Nestled between buildings on Arthrex’s North Naples campus, a pedestrian bridge arches over water lilies floating in the still waters of a retention pond.
Live oaks, red maples and other native flora stand sentinel as bees collect pollen from the water lilies’ bright purple flowers just under the bridge. A toad, no bigger than a thumbnail, hops between retention ponds.
Arthrex’s campus, on the corner of Immokalee and Goodlette-Frank roads, features athletic fields and outdoor dining areas, but its landscape design is now certified wildlife habitat.
Meredith Budd of the Florida Wildlife Federation, an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, noticed the landscaping during a Leadership Collier campus tour earlier this year.
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“I took it upon myself to look at the campus and noticed all the native vegetation and how well it was done,” Budd said.
What she saw were littoral shelves filled with pickerelweed, arrowhead and various lilies lining retention ponds, native plants providing food and protection for wildlife and the oasis known as SpeedBridge.
The bridge is named after one of Arthrex’s medical devices, which is used for surgical repair of soft tissues such as rotator cuff and Achilles tendon tears.
Working with a landscape architect, the company was able to use the native plants on the property to create natural habitat for wildlife.
Trent Lewis, director of facilities and corporate infrastructure at Arthrex, said the company relocated 50 mature live oaks along walking paths during a reconstruction phase to create bird habitat and shade canopy.
In the campus’ main retention pond, to the north of SpeedBridge, a wildlife consultant helped Lewis and the company create underwater structures to enhance habitat for the largemouth bass population.
There are four criteria to meet before a garden or natural landscape can be certified wildlife habitat. There needs to be food, water, shelter and a place to raise young, Budd said.
“The SpeedBridge is one of the best examples of that on campus among the other sustainable practices (at Arthrex),” she said.
Edible seeds and nuts from various native trees as well as berries from wax myrtle and holly trees can be found on Arthrex’s campus.
Multiple retention ponds provide water while the wooded areas, arched culvert over a canal and various native grasses provide shelter.
The company has reused concrete from old buildings to lay a foundation for a new one, uses Low-E, or low-emissivity, glass to conserve energy and uses reclaimed water for irrigation, Lewis said.
David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation, said the certification is an element of the group’s Garden for Wildlife Program, which has been running since 1973.
“Essentially we’re trying to restore habitat for species to safely coexist right along humans by helping people to plant and maintain property,” Mizejewski said.
NWF has certified 17,622 wildlife habitat gardens in Florida with the majority of them in residential backyards.
“The majority of people who go through certification are probably doing it in a suburban setting, in their yard,” he said. “We encourage people everywhere to do it. There are plenty of spaces, even within urban centers, to make a big difference.”
Those interested in seeing if their gardens or campuses would qualify can go to nwf.org/garden for information and resources.
The full Garden for Wildlife checklist is listed here.
Karl Schneider is an environment reporter. Send tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @karlstartswithk