By M. Catherine McCabe
What could have been foreseen as a long and winding road to habitat certification turned out to be a short and direct shot. Recently, Patrick Fitzgerald, from the National Wildlife Federation's headquarters, announced that Druid Hills has reached its certification goal and is now officially a certified wildlife habitat community. By gaining this national certification, Druid Hills joins Chamblee, Johns Creek, Milton, and Roswell as NWF certified habitat communities in the Atlanta metropolitan area and also some 88 certified habitat communities nation-wide.
It was just last year that the Druid Hills Civic Association announced its efforts towards gaining this certification for the neighborhood, and through the efforts of its NWF Habitat Certification Steering Committee and many volunteers from among Druid Hills homeowners, this goal has come to a successful conclusion.
Fernbank School, along with several Druid Hills parks and many a Druid Hills household, were already enjoying certification when this effort began. Upon the launch of the campaign, several more parks were added to the roster. Some of the original parks and schools updated their certifications, and currently more than 135 Druid Hills homeowners are enjoying the benefits of their certified backyard habitats.
During this process, seven (yes, that's 7!) pocket parks came to the attention of the Steering Committee, one being Heaton Park, a bird sanctuary located square in the middle of the Druid Hills neighborhood. Some DH neighbors, along with the tree company ArborGuard, are generously giving of their time, expertise, and manual labor to restore this park. Once this work has been completed, its quiet stream and abundant flora will enjoy the benefits of new life and offer respite to both fauna and the many DH homeowners who live within the park's vicinity.
The excitement over the discovery of these unheralded pocket parks brought together even more DH neighbors who have been busy developing a walking tour. This tour, presented on the DHCA website, will offer both new and long-standing DH residents the opportunity to learn about the parks and their surrounding areas. With the NWF Community Habitat Certification and its designation as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, Druid Hills continues with its original vision and tradition of providing habitat for wildlife in a lively urban setting and also with honoring Frederick Law Olmstead's vision of Druid Hills as an area "well shaded by handsome, umbrageous, permanently thrifty trees" in a neighborhood with a "pleasing rural, or, at least, semi-rural, character of scenery..."