Backyard Habitat Certification Program

Portland Audubon and Columbia Land Trust teamed up to design a unique program that supports urban gardeners in their efforts to create natural backyard habitats. The intent of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP) is simple: it provides technical assistance, financial incentives, encouragement and recognition to people that want to create natural, low-maintenance gardens that support people, wildlife, and the planet.

Plant roots, create habitat, and transform the world – one yard at a time.

Program participant standing next to the native plant flowering red currant, a favorite for hummingbirds.

What You Need to Know

Since launching in Portland in 2009, more than 5,250 properties have joined, spanning over 1,400 acres of our metro area. It is through collective efforts to revitalize urban landscapes that positive change happens. Together we make our region a better place for ourselves and for wildlife.

Our service area: The program currently serves properties smaller than 1 acre within most urban and suburban areas of Multnomah and Clackamas counties. Most yards are in private properties, but we also support schools, religious institutions, community gardens, businesses and more – and will waive the 1 acre rule for these community sites.

Program expansion: We are growing fast and plan to cover most of the 4 county Metro area by 2020. If you live in Clark or Washington counties, enroll now to be added to our waitlist so you’ll be the first people to hear about our expansions, currently planned for spring 2019.   

Black-capped Chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee, photo by Scott Carpenter

How does the Program Work?

  1. Get started by filling out the enrollment form. Enrollment is offered on a sliding scale to help increase financial accessibility and to remove barriers to participation.
  2. After submitting your enrollment form, you will receive an automatic response with more information and your expected site assessment wait time (usually about 4 weeks). At this time, there is unprecedented interest in the program. Thank you for your patience.
  3. During the site assessment, the Habitat Technician will walk the yard with you, discussing the current conditions and your goals for the future. They will also help identify noxious weeds and give pro tips on creating habitat for wildlife, managing rainwater, decreasing pesticides and gardening naturally. The Habitat Technician will leave you with lots of excellent educational materials and coupons for native plants.
  4. Following the site assessment, the Habitat Technician will send you a personalized site report, which outlines the steps to certification discussed during your visit, and pertinent online resources.
  5. En route to certification, you will receive ample support, including discounts on native plants, invitations to exclusive yard and garden tours, and an e-newsletter chock-full of tips and information about special events, plant sales, and special workshops.
  6. When you complete your habitat enhancements and meet the “certification criteria”, we will send a volunteer certifier back to check your progress and award you the Certified Backyard Habitat sign! On average, it takes participants 6 months to 1 year to become certified but that depends on each participant
  7. Your certification expires every 3 years. You will be prompted to fill out a short questionnaire to renew your certification and continue to receive exclusive program perks.