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National Conservation Effort Focuses on Backyards

News Release on Backyard Conservation   United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
P.O. Box 2890
Washington, DC 20013

WASHINGTON, April 1--Much of the 92 million acres of developed land in the U.S. is in the care of homeowners-land that some conservationists see as fertile ground for conservation and wildlife habitat improvement.

Through a cooperative project called "Backyard Conservation," the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) are asking homeowners and urban and suburban residents from coast to coast to help make one million backyards a "friendlier place for nature."

The centerpiece of the project is a free, 28-page booklet that outlines 10 conservation practices backyard conservationists can put to work on their own property or in their neighborhoods. The booklet also explains how those conservation practices are used on a larger scale in the countryside.

The project uses smaller-scale conservation practices that have been used on American farms for decades- such as terracing, tree planting, composting, mulching, wildlife habitat, wetlands, ponds, water conservation, nutrient management, and pest management. By using these practices, backyard conservationists can provide important wildlife habitat while saving natural resources.

"This project seeks the common ground of conservation for people everywhere," NRCS Chief Pearlie Reed said, "whether your backyard is a 500-acre farm or a flower box on your apartment balcony. All citizens can enjoy a healthier nation because of the successful conservation efforts of America's farmers and ranchers."

"You don't have to do a lot, or spend a lot to make your yard a more inviting place for beneficial birds and insects," said WHC President William W. Howard. "It's amazing what a few of the right plants or trees will do for nesting birds and other wildlife," he said.

In addition to providing important habitat, the project's sponsors want to let non-farm audiences know about conservation progress in an effort to strengthen the link between agricultural and non-agricultural communities.

"There's a lot of conservation going on in the countryside," said NACD President Rudy Rice, "but most people don't recognize the practices. The Backyard Conservation project will help non-farm conservationists recognize and use a handful of the practices that are used by their country counterparts."

Single copies of the 28-page Backyard Conservation booklet are available free by calling (toll free) 1-888-LANDCARE.

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