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What You Can Do
You can make a difference in your own backyard.
By Karen Fanning

Volunteers for the Pacific American Volunteer Association
You can easily get involved in helping preserve the natural areas in your community. Here a group of volunteers for the Pacific American Volunteer Association participate in a community cleanup activity, in Sepulveda Basin, San Fernando Valley, California.
(Photo: Felicia Martinez/Photo Edit Inc.)
You don't have to scale the mountains of Asia or prowl the forests of Africa to help save the world's endangered species. In fact, the animals roaming around your own neighborhood could use your help.

Things you do in your own community can help animal and plant species survive, says David Harrelson, a biologist with the Division of Endangered Species at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you are looking for ways to lend a helping hand, here are some ideas to get you started:

• Help preserve your local habitat by removing "invasive species" like English ivy, kudzu, and Japanese honeysuckle. These unwelcome species crowd out native plants that are critical to the survival of area wildlife.

• Plant bushes and trees with berries or nuts. They will serve as important food sources for birds and other animals, while also providing much needed shelter.

• Put birdhouses and birdbaths in your backyard. While birds can usually hunt down food, water can be hard to come by.

• Help rebuild threatened riverbanks. Replanting native trees along the riverbanks will help keep the soil from crumbling. Healthy rivers provide a hospitable habitat for birds and mammals.

• Plant a garden in your schoolyard that will invite butterflies, birds, and wildlife.

For more ideas, check out these online resources:

• Find out how you can help wildlife in your area by contacting your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

• Learn about volunteer opportunities at your local wildlife refuge.

• Look into your local community's wildlife preservation activities.

• Learn how you can make your yard a welcoming environment for wildlife.

• Learn how to monitor amphibian populations in your neighborhood.

• Learn more about birds and birdwatching by contacting your local Audubon Society.

• Learn how to identify butterflies and their habitats.