Columbia is now officially South Carolina’s largest Certified Community Wildlife Habitat.

The honor was bestowed on the city by leaders of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and National Wildlife Federation at a ceremony Friday at the Robert Mills House in Columbia.

"Today, October 11, won't be just known as being a beautiful fall day in Columbia,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “We've also decided to make this a very special day."

Benjamin read a proclamation approved by the city council recognizing the occasion of the city’s certification. 

Columbia became a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat through a series of steps enacted in partnership with the South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF).

● Individuals and businesses certified their homes and grounds as wildlife habitats

with SCWF.

● SCWF staff led an invasive species removal.

● SCWF completed countless presentations with City of Columbia schools, garden

clubs, local businesses, parks and individuals.

● SCWF will continue to monitor the status of Columbia’s wildlife habitat. They are

also working with new businesses to certify more gardens and creating more

educational opportunities within the city limits.

There are already 797 certified habitats within the city of Columbia, and the number continues to grow. Some of the most visible existing ones are the University of South Carolina, Harbison State Forest, Riverbanks Zoo, Mast General Store, Stormwater Studios, Palmetto Experience, Rosewood Market and Forest Lake Presbyterian Church.

"We are working with partners all across the state to help our wildlife to offset some of the threats our wildlife face every day, said SCWF Executive Director Sara Green. “Threats including habitat loss from development, climate change, pollution, all these things our wildlife have to navigate every day."

Green spoke at the ceremony along with Benjamin and National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara, who traveled to Columbia for the occasion. Green added that the SCWF’s mission is one everyone can embrace.

"We can all do things like planting native plants and other things to encourage wildlife in our own back yards and throughout our community. If we all take small steps like have been done here, we can all make a huge difference for wildlife."

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