'Oasis in the desert': Kenai Community Library to host gardening program

Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009

As the Kenai Peninsula moves further into the warm weather months, many greenthumbs are starting to plan out what to plant in their gardens or around their homes, and the Kenai Community Library will host a program this weekend to encourage people to think about fauna as well as flora.

Photo By Joseph Robertia
Photo By Joseph Robertia
A redpoll perches on a branch in a Kenai back yard. For anyone interested in learning how to draw in these birds or other animal species, a "Promoting Wildlife in Your Own Backyard" program will held at the Kenai Community Library, on Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m.

"It's a program we're hoping the whole family can enjoy," said Julie Niederhauser, assistant library director.

The program will be a three-part presentation, each focusing on how back yards can be made into homes for a variety of birds, butterflies, beneficial insects and other wildlife.

"Storyteller Robert Peterson will begin the program by sharing his favorite Raven Tales," Niederhauser said.

Peterson, a member of the Kenai Performers drama troupe, has presented stories at the library for a number of years, and he doesn't just read them, rather he performs them using voice annotations.

"He's very good," Niederhauser said.

As to the story's he'll be reading, Raven Tales are Native Alaskan stories, many of which revolve around people's interaction with the natural world. In these stories the raven is sometimes helpful, but sometimes a trickster as well, so the stories are always intriguing to follow.

The second part of the program will be a Powerpoint presentation on how to create backyard wildlife habitats, given by Toby Burke, a wildlife technician with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

"I'll be talking about the ways people can improve their yard or landscaping for wildlife, whether they have an eighth of an acre in town, or three to four or more acres outside of town," he said.

Burke said he would discuss methods and types of plantings to draw in butterflies and other beneficial insects, using small ponds to draw in amphibians such as wood frogs, putting up bird houses to encourage avian wildlife to nest, and utilizing bat houses and piles of brush to attract hares, for those that wish to draw in mammals.

"Sometimes just leaving one little patch undeveloped can be wonderful for wildlife. It's like an oasis in the desert," he said.

The last activity of the day will be a hands-on one. A limited number of bird nesting boxes have been provided from Home Depot and will be available for participants to assemble and take home.

"They are pre-cut so they are not very difficult to put together, but we'll have BoyScouts volunteering to help anyone out that needs it. We wanted something that people would put together and take with them that day," Niederhauser said.

After the program, participants can learn more about promoting wildlife in their back yards, by checking out any one of the numerous books available at the library on this subject.

"We'll have books available on every topic covered," Niederhauser said.

The "Promoting Wildlife in Your Own Back Yard" program will be at the Kenai Community Library, on Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information on the program, contact Niederhauser at 283-4378 or visit the library's Web site at http://www.kenailibrary.org.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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