Ashland class covers creating backyard habitats

ASHLAND — The city is trying to teach residents how to encourage birds and bees to frequent their backyards — but discourage deer, cougars and bears.

On Wednesday, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department will hold a class on "Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat." The workshop is part of the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District's new Urban Living program, a free service that helps people create landscaping plans that protect natural resources.

"We're going to talk about ecosystems, and about how you can bring them into your yard," said Lori Tella, the conservation district's urban and community conservationist, who is teaching the class. "And then we'll talk about what are the benefits of wildlife in the environment and what are the threats."

The class costs $5 and will be from 7 to 8 p.m. at North Mountain Park, 620 N. Mountain Ave.

Participants will learn about which plants encourage bees, butterflies and birds — and which plants discourage deer and other large animals. Tella will discuss how to arrange landscaping to better suit beneficial wildlife, as well as conserve water and soil.

"I think the most important thing for urban dwellers is to provide habitat for pollinators using plants that can attract butterflies and bees and birds," she said. "After that, some folks like to attract larger animals and species, but I don't think anybody wants bears or cougars in their yard."

Ashland's deer population has become more aggressive in recent years, as the animals begin to lose their fear of humans, creating conflicts. The deer also attract larger animals, such as cougars, Tella said.

"There's no magic bullet for keeping deer out of your yard, but you can try strategic fencing and deer-resistant plants," she said.

The conservation district plans to hold another meeting in the summer and one in the fall to cover other landscaping topics, Tella said.

"We'd like to help with landscape planning and teach people to be wildlife stewards," she said.

Free copies of the conservation district's Urban Living Handbook, released last month, are available electronically at or at the conservation district's office, 573 Parsons Drive, Suite 102, Medford.

For more information on creating a landscaping plan, call the conservation district at 541-776-4270, ext. 120.

There is still space available in Wednesday's class. For more information or to sign up, call the North Mountain Park Nature Center at 541-488-6606.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-708-1158 or

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