The Wilderness Center (TWC) has a threefold mission: Conservation, Education, and Community. In service to our mission TWC serves as a community based, conservation focused land trust, nature center, sustainable forestry service, green cemetery, and an environmental education center offering both active and passive learning opportunities.
The Wilderness Center understands the importance of all of us making small changes that collectively have big impacts for the benefit of our imperiled habitats and those that are dependent on them. Protecting the habitats and resources our native pollinators, birds, butterflies, and their wild cohorts need throughout their full life cycles is imperative, and we are ready to help.
The Wilderness Center's Community Conservation Program
The Wilderness Center's Community Conservation Program is comprised of two components, the Backyard Habitat Partnership Program and the Dark Skies Initiative. The goal for these initiatives is to help our neighbors, schools, and businesses work together to help protect and increase the needed resources for our vastly important populations of native pollinators, bees, moths, birds, and other wildlife while enhancing enjoyment of and learning from our shared natural communities. Prairies, meadows, and grasslands are some of the most imperiled habitat types on both a global and local scale. These habitats support a wide array of wildlife including birds, moths, butterflies, bees, bats, and others that not only add to the wondrousness of our world, but also offer free ecological services such as crop pollination, mosquito control, economic growth opportunities, and educational engagement. With the loss or weakening of these habitats comes the loss of those pollinators and bird species that rely on them, and the loss of the beautiful night sky. But, there are small actions we can each take that will help. The Wilderness Center is partnering with international, national, and local organizations to help spark and support those small changes and big impacts in our communities.
TWC's Community Conservation Partnership Program couples our involvement in the International Dark Sky Initiative with our local, community-focused Backyard Habitat Program. Together these programs focus on how our local families, schools, and even businesses can pitch in and make a difference. There are small steps each of us can do, and this program will inform and engage on what those steps can be.
Many of us have become more aware of the negative impacts habitat loss and over use of pesticides has on our native pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and even bird populations as well as on other wildlife too. But how many of us think about the night shift? How many of us realize there are night time pollinators, nocturnal wildlife, and those that rely on them that are also being negatively impacted? Animals such as migratory birds and sea turtles can lose their way with deadly consequences as a result of light pollution. Up to 80% of migratory birds fly at night. While most of us are sleeping, millions of birds are making their way over thousands of miles, crossing oceans and continents. But each year millions of birds are lost or killed by the negative impacts of habitat loss and light pollution. Light pollution interrupts the flight trajectory of migratory birds, resulting in whole flocks losing their way or colliding with buildings and roads. Moths too suffer great losses as a result of light pollution. It has been estimated that up to 50% of the moths we see circling under our street lamps each night die as a result of exhaustion or increased predation. The math of the impact is staggering. That is up to 50% of those moths under all of the street lights in our towns, our counties, our country, the world. Research is increasingly illustrating how important moths are to pollination, as well as adding to the resources needed for the next generation of birds, bats, and other wildlife. Moths and butterflies not only help pollinate our crops and flowers, their offspring are also the most important food source for nestlings. Each clutch of chickadees, as an example, need 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars in order to grow up, leave the nest, and eventually start families of their own. Fewer butterflies and moths result in fewer caterpillars, which will result in fewer baby birds growing up, which will result in furthering the decreases in the wildlife we see today, and those that our children will see in the future.
TWC's Community Conservation Program will offer educational programming, community engagement, and property certification options for families, schools, and other property owners. TWC will also be joining a growing list of organizations working together to educate the public and engage the next generation on the importance of protecting habitat for pollinators, increasing the use of native plants, and decreasing the negative impacts of light pollution. Join us.