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Flora & Fauna

Balsamroot  by Jane Abel

Yellow Warbler on Willow by Larry Umthun

Hunt's Bumble Bee by Lisa Hill

Include flora native to the Columbia Basin to benefit and attract the region's native fauna and support the movement of others as they pass through the area on their annual migrations. If you are creating your garden specifically with wildlife and pollinators in mind, you may also qualify for certifications through additional programs.

Creating Habitat in Your Heritage Garden

While native plants are a great start to any wildlife friendly garden or landscape, several other elements work together to create a 'habitat.' For an area to meet the definition of habitat, it must provide food, water, shelter, and/or a place to raise young.

Food Sources

There are many plants that provide multiple food resources depending on the time of year and the animal that utilizes it. Consider how you might incorporate several types of food sources into your garden. Choose native plant species whenever possible. Non-native species can be of little to no value to our wildlife. 


Water Sources

Whether it is a drip-fed puddle on a rock, a large pond, natural stream, or large rain-fed trough, finding ways to add water resources to a dry landscape can support a wide variety of animals. 

Structure & Shelter

Places to hide during hot or cold weather, even to nest and raise babies--these could be anything from human-made structures to landscape maintenance with wildlife in mind.

Many of our solitary native bees are ground nesters. They need an area that is mostly free of plants and preferably of loamy soil. A thin topping of fine rock chip or small crushed gravel provides structure they can work around. This image shows a cluster of nest entrances in a Heritage Garden in Kennewick. These bees are harmless. Their nest entrances are small and easily overlooked. 

ground nesting native bees

The plants you put in your garden may provide materials that are utilized for shelter or nesting. This image shows a woolcarder bee scraping plant fiber from a common yarrow stem and rolling the fiber into a ball as she works her way down the stem. She will use these plant fibers to line her nest.

Why You Should Leave the Leaves | NWF

Ecosystems Shaping Habitat

Heritage Garden Service Area

The area served by the Heritage Garden Program lies within the EPA's East Cascades Slopes & Foothills and Columbia Plateau Level III ecoregions. These are regions 9 and 10 respectively on the map below. Click on the map for a pop-up view.

Level III ecoregions in the Pacific Northwest, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency

Columbia Plateau

The Heritage Garden Program is predominantly within the Columbia Plateau ecoregion (Region 10). This ecoregion lies within the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It is named for the Columbia Plateau basalt formation, formed by the Columbia River Basalt Group (see Basalt Flows & Rock Formations). The Columbia Plateau is home to arid sagebrush steppe and grasslands. It is surrounded by forested and mountainous ecoregions.

Eastern Cascades Slopes & Foothills

The west edge of the areas served by the Heritage Garden Program reaches into the East Cascades ecoregion (Region 9). This ecoregion is a narrow strip running through Washington, Oregon and northern California. This region, in the rain shadow of the Cascades Mountain range, is drier and subject to more extreme temperatures than the west side of the Cascades. The East Cascade's vegetation supports open forests of ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine.

This Land is Part of Us

"A short film produced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Northwest. Gold Winner in the 42nd Annual People's Telly Awards. 

The shrubsteppe of central Washington’s Columbia Basin is a land of rich biodiversity, vibrant communities, and poignant beauty. It is a place both iconic and increasingly at-risk. Here, at the northern extent of the great “Sagebrush Sea” that once sprawled across much of the American West, growing collaboration between agencies, Native American tribes, conservation organizations, local landowners, and other partners seeks to preserve and restore shrubsteppe ecosystems while supporting cultural and economic values. 


For wildlife lovers, hunters and anglers, Indigenous peoples, farmers and ranchers, outdoor recreationists and so many others, this land is no desert devoid of life, This Land is Part of Us." - Conservation Northwest, Protecting, Connecting and Restoring Wildlands and Wildlife

"Washington’s diverse geography and climate create a range of habitats for thousands of vascular plants native to our state. In addition to these plants, there are more species of mosses, lichens and liverworts. The native plants of Washington State have adapted to live in extreme places such as areas with less than five inches of rainfall to places with more than two-hundred inches of rain; from sea level to the alpine zones of our highest mountains." - Ecosystems by the Washington Native Plant Society

Recognize and Understand
the Flora & Fauna in Your Garden

The flora in your garden provide an everchaging display of color and texture. But there is so much more going on for you to approeciate if you take time to patiently watch and listen. The interactions of insects and birds with the plants and each other can be delightful, entertaining and occasionally a bit disturbing. 


We've discovered an interesting assortment of fauna in a public Heritage Garden in Kennewick where we are conducting a biodiversity study to investigate the importance to fauna of urban gardens that consist mostly of native plants. Learn more: Biodiversity Study at Hansen Park.

The resources below will help you identify and better understand the flora and fauna in your garden. 

Curious about the critical areas and wildlife habitat nearby that you may be able to support with your Heritage Garden? Discover the wildlife of Washington and those that require protections. Learn more about the Shrub-Steppe and Riparian Ecosystems of Washington State and utilize the interactive mapping tool to reveal the priority resources near you.

Threatened Species & Priority Habitats

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