Nature Alert: Drive carefully to help save lives

By Anne Blackburn
Chair, Riderwood Wildlife Habitat Management Project (WHMP)

In 2000 the Erickson Corporation purchased the land that would become Riderwood. Formerly called Great Oaks, the property had housed a state-run facility for persons with disabilities. The land included three ponds, considerable open space and some mature woodlands. As part of the sale Erickson was required to maintain about 30% of the 120 acres as habitat for wildlife.

To fulfill this requirement, Riderwood staff keeps the woods along the property boundaries, the lands around the ponds, the woodlot behind Victoria Place and the courtyard behind Village Square in as natural a state as possible. The result? Residents share the property with more than 100 bird species, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums, turtles, feral cats, raccoons, deer and an occasional fox.

Interested residents cooperate with staff to maintain the wildlife habitat. Volunteers tend to butterfly gardens and birdhouses, while others remove invasive plants, vines and small trees that crowd out and smother more desirable native vegetation. Unfortunately, not everyone has the mobility, time or energy to take part in activities like these. But everyone who drives can help protect our wild friends. Jenny Brunt, horticulture technician in the Grounds Department, has to dispose of creatures killed on our roadways. Jenny reports that recently she has only had to collect two raccoons, two squirrels, one baby rabbit, one cat and several birds.

Be sure to help protect these “other” Riderwood residents by being alert, watchful and careful drivers when navigating the roadways of our campus.


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