Pajarito Environmental Education Center Leads Efforts To Certify Los Alamos As A Community Wildlife Habitat

PEEC Board members celebrating the certification of the nature center as a Wildlife Habitat, from left, Jeremy Campbell, Bob Walker, Jennifer Macke, Selvi Viswanathan, Esta Lee Albright, Michele Altherr, Nancy Arendt, Felicia Orth, Ann Shafer, Sue Watts, Mary Carol Williams, Becky Shankland, Talia Dreicer, Karla Sartor and Rebecca Oertel. Courtesy/PEEC

PEEC News:

A team of Pajarito Environmental Education Center volunteers is working to make Los Alamos the first certified Community Wildlife Habitat in New Mexico.

To date, our community consists of 126 backyards, four common areas, and three educational organizations certified as Wildlife Habitats by the National Wildlife Federation. Los Alamos’ Community Wildlife Habitat certification is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The certification process began Dec. 19, 2013 thanks to the team of volunteers:

  • Selvi Viswanathan;
  • Michele Altherr;
  • Hedy Dunn;
  • Hari Viswanathan;
  • Bob Walker;
  • Yvonne Keller;
  • Laura Loy; and
  • Linda Boncella.

Since then, the team helped certify the Los Alamos Nature Center, encourage more residents and businesses to obtain a wildlife habitat certification, and worked to inform the community about the benefits of the certification for residents and the community.

“We are hoping to have Los Alamos recognized as the first Community Wildlife Habitat in New Mexico, which reflects our commitment on the county level to rehabilitate and protect our natural scenic resources,” said Bob Walker, a member of the team.

Certifying a business or residential yard involves providing four things:

  • water source;
  • food;
  • shelter/cover; and
  • place to raise young.

To certify a backyard, visit and search for “Garden for Wildlife.” Selvi Viswanathan, who was the third person to certify a yard in the county and had the first certified yard in Los Alamos proper, would love to have more than 200 backyard Wildlife Habitats, and she has been an inspiration for many of the 126 certified yards.

The Los Alamos Nature Center, which was certified as a Wildlife Habitat in July of this year, is now a hub for a wide variety of wildlife, who are seen by visitors in-person and made visible digitally thanks to their wildlife camera. For water, the nature center has a pond, visible from the wildlife observation room.

The bird feeders, native grasses, and native plant gardens serve as food for visiting critters. Both live and dead plants serve as cover for animals. The standing dead Ponderosa at the nature center serves as a bird perch and potential roosting tree. The pond and the dense grasses and shrubs also serve as good places to raise young.

For more information about wildlife habitat certification or PEEC programs, visit, email or call 505.662.0460.

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) was founded in 2000 to serve the community of Los Alamos. It offers people of all ages a way to enrich their lives by strengthening their connections to our canyons, mesas, mountains, and skies. PEEC operates the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road, holds regular programs and events, and hosts a number of interest groups from birding to hiking to butterfly watching. PEEC activities are open to everyone; however members receive exclusive benefits such as discounts on programs and merchandise. Annual memberships start at $35. To learn more, visit






For more information:

Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC)

Erin Middleton, Marketing Manager

Office: 505.662.0460



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