Volunteers gathered Saturday to help with the first phase of a bird, bat, bee and butterfly garden being built near the Sportsmen’s Center.

The Fort Hood Natural Resources Management Branch is able to build the garden thanks to a Defense Department Legacy Land Grant.

The first phase included building and painting bat and bird houses and benches to put in the garden. The next phase will involve planting native plants into the designated space.

“It’s an ecosystem approach for all the requirements for wildlife habitats,” said Virginia Sanders, wildlife biologist for the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division. This approach includes providing food, shelter and water for animals — which means different plants for the birds, bees and butterflies, and insects for bats.

“It will provide a benefit to humans because it will reduce the amount of insects we consider a nuisance,” she said.

The garden will also provide a space to showcase native plants. Fort Hood only allows native plants to be planted on post.

“It will demonstrate native plants and provide an education tool for the community,” said Marion Noble, geographer with the Natural Resources Management Branch.

She said a lot of people prefer to plant “showy” plants and the garden will be able to show them their options.

“There is this misconception that native plants look drab, or have no color,” Noble said. “We want to show there are native, showy plants.”

Native plants are better for environment because they require less water and attract the wildlife in the area. Two native birds they hope to attract are wrens and bluebirds, Noble said.

Several volunteers showed up to help Saturday, including 11-year-old Freya Wood, who painted bat houses.

“We get to help the animals,” she said. “We get to have fun doing it, too.”

The next opportunity to volunteer is helping plant on Oct. 13 and the garden is expected to open by the end of the year.

For more information on the project, contact Christine Luciano at (254) 291-3257 or Christine.a.luciano.civ@mail.mil.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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