The Fairfax Becomes First Senior Community Certified As A Wildlife Sanctuary

Sunrise Senior Living  |  July 22, 2015

Resident and retired Navy officer Captain James Harkin of The Fairfax, VA, began working with the Audubon at Home Program of the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia in 2012. The partnership’s purpose was to encourage more birds, butterflies and other wildlife to visit the community’s campus which includes a seven-acre lake and numerous green trails, perfect for thriving wildlife. Earlier this week The Fairfax was proudly named a Certified Wildlife Sanctuary by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.

“We have certified many residences, schools and other properties as wildlife sanctuaries, but The Fairfax is the first and only senior living community to be certified as a Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Betsy Martin, Audubon at Home Ambassador, who worked with Captain Harkin and coordinates the program in Fairfax County, VA.

Captain Harkin, fellow residents of The Fairfax community and Sunrise team members worked hard to earn this recognition. They planted native plants, reduced pesticide and fertilizer use, removed invasive species and observed 10 “Sanctuary Species” already using the property. These species have gone on to build nests, feed and forage while raising their young on the property, qualifying the community as a Certified Wildlife Sanctuary. Now over 40 species of birds and butterflies call The Fairfax home!

The Fairfax residents and team are especially interested in attracting more monarch butterflies whose population has drastically declined in recent decades. Poised to be on the federal endangered species list if this trend continues, monarch butterflies have suffered due to a loss of habitat. Captain Harkin’s goal is to bring back some of these beautiful and important butterflies with the continued help of his community.

“The entire project has inspired a spirit of camaraderie and fun among residents. You can find them repairing birdhouses and working on the grounds, alongside Captain Harkin,” says Carla Shipley, executive director of The Fairfax.

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