Backyard Habitat Certification Program

Bird Alliance of Oregon and Columbia Land Trust teamed up to design a unique program that supports urban and suburban gardeners in their efforts to create habitat within their residential or community greenspaces. The intent of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP) is simple: it provides technical assistance, financial incentives, encouragement, and recognition to people who want to create climate-resilient habitat that support people, wildlife, and the planet.

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

What You Need to Know

Since launching in Portland in 2009, more than 12,000 properties have joined, spanning over 3,000 acres of our 4-county service area. It is through collective efforts to revitalize urban and suburban 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 residential properties smaller than 1 acre in most of Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah, and Washington counties. We also support community sites such as schools, places of worship, multi-family housing complexes, community gardens, businesses, and more, regardless of the property size. 

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. Wait times may vary based on your location and seasonal demand.  
  3. During the initial site visit, the Habitat Technician will walk through the entire site with you, discussing the current conditions and your goals for the property. They will also help identify non-native plants that are recommended to be removed for ecosystem health (e.g. English Ivy) and provide site-specific recommendations for creating habitat for wildlife, managing rainwater, decreasing pesticide use, and eco-friendly maintenance practices. The Habitat Technician will leave you with a “Restoration in Progress” sign and lots of excellent resources and coupons for local native plant nurseries to help get you started.
  4. Following the initial site visit, the Habitat Technician will send you a personalized site report, which outlines the steps to achieving the goals for your space, and pertinent online resources.
  5. As you work on your habitat space, you will receive ample support, including a follow-up phone call with your Habitat Technician, an annual Native Plant Discount Fliers, invitations to programmatic yard and garden tours, and a quarterly e-newsletter full of tips and information about special events, plant sales, and special workshops.
  6. If reaching certification is your goal, once you’ve implemented the recommendations for one of the certification levels from your site report, let us know, and a trained volunteer will schedule a certification visit with you. Once you’re certified, you’ll receive our lovely metal yard sign! Reaching certification can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, but regardless of your pace, the habitat being restored along the way is the goal! 
  7. Renewing your certification every three years is simple, free, and virtual. Renewals help us maintain a robust program by documenting ongoing positive changes in our program area. It also indicates that you’re still committed to nurturing your habitat. In return, we’ll keep providing you with benefits, resources, and discounts.