Having a certified wildlife habitat on campus serves as an educational tool for community
Hechenbleikner Lake on campus has been designated as a Certified Wilidlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). When Lindsay Klingenschmidt was working towards her Bachelors in Human Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Food and Nutrition, she was encouraged to pick a project on campus that reinforced the underlying sustainability platform that Chartwells has. She decided to work towards designating the lake as a wildlife habitat. The requirements for a Certified Wildlife Habitat have five main categories applicants must meet with more specific requirements in each category according to the NWF website. The categories include food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices.
University Sustainability Coordinator Tyler Sytsma said that the designation of the lake is a good educational tool for the campus community.
“Biodiversity, protecting habitats, natural resources, making sure we’re being stewards of the land are all increasingly important concepts right now and being able to demonstrate that we’re taking this seriously, taking the steps we need in order to protect what we have goes a long way with how everyone perceives the university,” said Sytsma.
Sytsma said that the most difficult part of the process was getting the sign to meet the standards that the university requires. He also touched on the importance of the certification for the campus.
“It’s wanting to maintain the natural beauty of UNC Charlotte because if you went with aggressive expansion of everything around here we’d be in a concrete jungle that would feel really restrictive to go to school. By making sure we have the fine balance of nature and education and development, it maintains that attractiveness to perspective new students and alumni who want to come back and see the campus,” said Sytsma.
The National Wildlife Federation certifies habitats in suburban yards, corporate properties, farms, schools, parks and more according to their website.
The certification will not limit student’s access to the area.