For the first time in Monroe County, a place of worship has a portion of its property certified as a National Wildlife Habitat.
St. George’s Episcopal Church now hosts bluebirds, deer, rodents and other many-legged friends on its 10 acres off Old Wilder Road — where just a few years ago senior housing was proposed.
The church, which ministers to many older members, didn’t realize how strongly the community felt about preserving green space until residents began to oppose the development. But the church listened.
“We wanted to communicate non-verbally, in a very visible and environmentally respectful way, that we were keeping with their wishes,” said the Rev. Rosemary Lillis, a master gardener and former pastor at the church.
Of the 142,000 certified habitats in the country, 427 are operated by places of worship, said Roxanne Nersesian Paul, senior coordinator of community and volunteer outreach at the National Wildlife Federation. The Hilton church joins just 21 others in the state of New York that have completed the certification process.