Dakota College campus certified as a wildlife habitat

Sandy Hageness
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

BOTTINEAU -  The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has certified Dakota College at Bottineau Campus as a New Wildlife Habitat Garden! “Every Certified Wildlife Habitat garden provides natural sources of food, water, cover, places to raise young, and is maintained in a sustainable way that incorporates native plants, conserves water and doesn’t rely on pesticides” (Ordonez-Lancet).

The mature trees in the arboretum are not only a beautiful place to take a walk on campus, but also provides a great habitat for deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other small creatures.

The horticulture team at Dakota College is mindful of how the plants used for campus landscaping may also be used by wildlife. The flowers grown during the warm months provide nectar and pollen to native bees, butterflies, and other pollinator insects. There’s even a certified pollinator garden, planted primarily with native prairie plants, on the west side of the Knudson Center that is buzzing with life during the growing season. The pollinator garden contains the sole habitat and food source of monarch caterpillars, milkweed. Campus flower beds are mulched using wood chips from trees that needed to be removed. This mulch decays in place and provides rich ecosystems that help plant and insect life thrive. The insects provide a food source to birds. Even into the cold months, vegetative material is left intact until as late into the fall or following spring as possible. This enables insects to overwinter in the hollow stems of plants and leaf debris which provide rabbits, squirrels, and birds the opportunity to forage for seed heads and dried foliage through the cold months.

The mature trees in the arboretum are not only a beautiful place to take a walk on campus, but also provides a great habitat for deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other small creatures. Foliage, twigs, berries, pinecones, and acorns are great food sources for these animals. Dense areas of brush and downed trees not only provide cover, but also provide protected areas for wildlife to raise their young.

Dakota College is lucky enough to have Oak Creek running along the east side of campus. Northern Pike and other species of fish inhabit the creek. Though the creek is not always flowing with water during times of drought, pools provide drinking water for wildlife and habitat for frogs and minnows.

“Every Certified Wildlife Habitat garden is also part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to create a million gardens that provide habitat for declining pollinator insects such as butterflies and bees” (Ordonez-Lancet). For more information on this program, please visit https://www.nwf.org/certify