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Improving Urban Biodiversity

March 1, 2015

Urban Biodiversity is increasingly recognized for its importance and its effect on health, mental wellbeing and academic performance. In April, the La Crosse Community Foundation, in cooperation with the Cities of La Crosse and Onalaska, Friends of the Marsh, Coulee Partners for Sustainability, UW-La Crosse, and Wisconsin DNR hosted a summit to look at environmental programs in the area as well as what needs exist to ensure the “Driftless region” is preserved, as well as to encourage people to enjoy outdoor activities.

Below, are some ideas so that we all may improve biodiversity in our own backyards, patios, or window boxes.

*The links provided below are potential resources you may find helpful.


  • Enhance your garden by planting showy native flowers – shop smart and ask about pesticide free plants (www.prairienursery.comwww.prairiemoon.com)
  • Plant a tree -trees native to Wisconsin, particularly oaks, are valuable for wildlife (www.ecosystemgardening.com)
  • Put out houses for cavity nesting birds like bluebirds, tree swallows and chickadees (www.braw.orgmdc.mo.govwww.purplemartin.org)
  • Join a conservation organization that actively protects habitat (www.abcbirds.orgwww.nature.org)
  • Keep pets indoors or on a leash
  • Build an organic garden, box garden, pot garden, or window box


  • Reduce your carbon footprint while maintaining your lawn with a push reel mower and a rake
  • Clean your hummingbird feeder and change the nectar (4 cups water, 1 cup sugar, no red dye) every 3 to four days – more frequently in hot weather
  • Go organic in your yard – eliminate use of pesticides
  • Help control invasive species in the urban environment’s wild places  (www.planetnatural.com)
  • Maintain an organic garden
  • Purchase local, organic, sustainable food at area farmer’s markets
  • Help control invasive species in the urban environment’s wild places  (dnr.wi.gov/topic/Invasives/)


  • Leave a corner (or more!) of your garden unraked – leaves provide important winter cover for plants and beneficial insects
  • Plant fruit-bearing shrubs like service berry, dogwood and viburnum (www.wildones.org)
  • Build a brush pile with prunings to provide winter cover for wildlife
  • Put a suet feeder out for woodpeckers (www.allaboutbirds.org)
  • Save seeds from plants for next year (www.seedsavers.org/learn)


  • Provide a heated bird bath for birds -change the water daily
  • Keep bird feeders clean and well-stocked
  • Buy shade grown coffee (good for migratory birds) as a gift for family and friends (www.caffeibis.com)
  • Build a nest for native bees (www.xerces.org)
  • Leave dead trees and braches where it is safe to do so -they provide important homes for wildlife
  • Develop a native landscaping plan for your yard (www.nwf.org)