The federation ranked America’s largest cities based on three important criteria for wildlife: the percentage of parkland in each city, citizen action to create wildlife habitat and school adoption of outdoor learning in wildlife gardens. Indianapolis was recognized along with Albuquerque, N.M; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; New York, Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
“America’s most wildlife-friendly cities are located in every corner of our nation from sea to shining sea,” said Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive officer of the federation. “The common thread between these cities is that citizens are coming together for a common purpose – to create a community where people and wildlife can thrive.”
The Circle City boasts more than 900 certified wildlife habitats, the second most of any major U.S. city. The federation said Indianapolis has a robust rain garden and native planting area program to reduce runoff and provide urban habitat.
”The Indiana Wildlife Federation is excited to see that Indy has been named as one of the country’s top cities for wildlife,” said Steve Cecil, president of the agency. “Everyone’s back yard, school grounds or pocket park can become a safe haven for urban wildlife populations.”
Indianapolis is also an Urban Bird Treaty area and provides a habitat for migratory birds traveling the Mississippi Flyway. In 2013 the city launched the Indy Birding Trail, which is designed to guide people to 35 of the municipality’s best areas for bird watching.
Environmental education is a primary focus at the Eagle Creek Park Earth Discovery Center and Ornithology Center, Holliday Park Nature Center, Southeastway Park and the Garfield Park Conservatory. Nearly 40,000 students and citizens participate annually in hands-on nature programs.