Friends of Tryon Creek launches Backyard Habitat Certification Program in LO
by: VERN UYETAKE Although they have lived in their home since the mid-1980s, Helen and Paul Lyons said they’re enjoying their backyard on a different level now that it has been certified through the Backyard Habitat Certification Program made possible by Friends of Tryon Creek.

Looking out for native wildlife in the region's state park as well as in the backyards of their neighbors, the Friends of Tryon Creek have expanded the Backyard Habitat Certification Program into Lake Oswego.

Originally launched in Portland by the Audobon Society of Portland and Columbia Land Trust, the Backyard Habitat Certfication Program was established to slow the growing loss of wildlife habitat by encouraging landowners to reconsider their approach to backyard landscaping.

The program focuses on the removal of aggressive weeds, naturescaping with native plants, addressing stormwater management and wildlife stewardship. Its Portland participants have seen reduced stormwater runoff and a decrease in the use of natural resources while using its recommendations to provide a habitat for native species and plants.

The Friends of Tryon Creek received support from the city of Lake Oswego to partner with the program's founding organizations and expand its borders Southwest, launching the expanded program Aug. 1.

'We have been doing site visits for over a month and the response has been very encouraging,' Friends of Tryon Creek Habitat Specialist Heidi Brill said. 'Lake Oswego residents demonstrate a passion for the conservation of land and resources, and the Backyard Habitat program helps translate that passion into reality.'

For homeowners hoping to participate in the program, the Backyard Habitat Certification process involves a site visit from a trained habitat technician. Once the technician has completed his or her survey, they pass along written recommendations about site-specitic habitat enhancements that could be made.

'The Audubon/city of Lake Oswego certification process was extremely informative and easy,' Lake Oswego resident Lynn Peterson said. 'While touring the yard to see if we met the criteria, the staff pointed out additional things we could do to help with potential soil erosion and invasive species removal that would improve the habitat even more.

'I look forward to learning and working in my yard toward a green and healthy Lake Oswego for all of us.'

Participation in the Backyard Habitat Certification Program is voluntary, and homeowners who do receive continuing technical support as they restore their property as well as access to a variety of incentives to assist with their efforts and a sign identifying that their property has been certified.

Paul and Helen Lyons' property was one of the first to receive certification in Lake Oswego once the program was launched.

'We are enjoying our yard at a different level,' Paul said. 'Now we just sit looking at the birds feeding, the plants swaying in the breeze and the textures and colors of the plants and trees. We have lived here since the mid-1980s and now the yard is our partner in thought and spirit.'

Residents interested in conserving natural wildlife habitats in their own backyards can also attend on of the Friends of Tryon Creek's 'Landscaping for Conservation' workshops, which provide a basic introduction to ecological gardening and watershed health, soil development and habitat enhancement.

The Friends of Tryon Creek is a private nonprofit organization that works to conserve and restore the 675-acre state park nestled between Southwest Portland and Lake Oswego.

For more information about and to register for the organization's Landscaping for Conservation workshops, visit the website www.tryon


For more information about the Backyard Habitat Certification Program, visit

To sign up for certification in Lake Oswego, visit

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