Whitney and Paradise area man saves his neighborhood by having it certified as a backyard wildlife habitat

The little gated community of Brookline Springs near Pecos Road and Russell Road holds around 75 homes clustered around a central network of ponds, streams and waterfalls. Everyone’s backyard opens to what is essentially a communal backyard park.

The water features are a rarity in the desert, and although they were original built as an amenity for the people living there, they now officially belong to the waterfowl. Thanks to Brookline Springs resident Rick Mills, the neighborhood’s common area has been officially named by the National Wildlife Federation as a certified backyard habitat.

To say that Mills is an animal lover is an understatement. He hosts an annual birthday party with a dozen or so guests for Kia, his beloved 23-year-old cat. When he realized she was having trouble jumping to her favorite napping spot, Mills built a bridge across the cabinets in the kitchen.

When he heard a story on TV about a cat that had been shot in the mouth with a pellet gun, he rushed to see to the vet who was caring for it.

“Some jerk shot a piece of its tongue out,” Mills said. “The owner was a single mom with two kids and no money. I just left my credit card there and said do what you need to. That cat was supposed to be on a feeding tube the rest of its life, but it got so well that it was eating on its own. That was worth every penny spent.”

Mills moved into his Brookline Springs home 18 years ago, when it was only three years old. The ducks were already well established in the ponds and streams. That was part of what drew him to the place. He used to buy 50-pound bags of chicken feed for them, but he had to stop.

“There were times when there were 200 ducks out there,” Mills said. “I don’t feed everybody now, I just take care of the guys that need taking care of.”

The “guys that need taking care of” vary from month to month. Mills is a regular visitor to Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital at 1325 Vegas Valley Drive, where he helps out rehabbing injured wildlife by bringing a select few to his backyard to recuperate before they spread their wings and fly away.

It was only a few years ago that the tranquil flow of water in Mills’ neighborhood was nearly stopped.

“A few years ago they started shutting down the water features around town,” Mills said. “I thought if they shut down this place it would all go to hell and the ducks would be out of luck.”

Until that point, his habit of treating the backyard as his own personal wildlife sanctuary had been looked down on by some of his neighbors, but Mills had had some dealings with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department and he had a plan that he took to his home owners association.

“I told them that someone from the board had to apply to have this certified as a registered backyard wildlife habitat,” Mills said “That way the water couldn’t be shut off. They didn’t think it would work, but they tried, and it did.”

Margie Klein, an independent environmental educator, teaches a class in the spring and fall at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which instructs people on how to do just that. The course, which Klein teaches with Paula Garrett, a research scientist with the UNLV arboretum, is called “Creating Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat.” The most recent session was May 14. Course dates for the fall session have not been set yet.

“We teach people to choose the right plants and provide a habitat that will attract birds, lizards and beneficial insects,” Klein said. “We try not to encourage rodents because they attract predators like coyotes and bobcats, and we don’t want to encourage them further into the valley.”

Klein added that May is Backyard Wildlife Habitat Month, making it the perfect time for people to make a difference in their own backyard.

“You pay $20 to certify your backyard,” Klein said. “You get a membership, they’ll plant native trees for you and you get a sign for your yard.”

Mills and his wife, Bonnie, have dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, so they were particularly excited in the fall of 2007 to wake up one morning and find a pair of Canada geese in their backyard.

“I went out and fed them some bread, and they’ve come back every year,” Mills said. “They have nests here and raise their babies here. They aren’t afraid of me. They’ll walk right into the house like they own it.”

Mills said the geese have been so accustomed to his home that they will often tap on his sliding glass door demanding food. They aren’t the only animals that demand his attention.

“One day, I was out there feeding the ducks, and I felt something scratching on my leg,” Mills said. “It was a turtle looking up and me like he was saying, ‘Feed me, too.’ The animals and I get along famously.”

Bonnie makes sure that Mills doesn’t get too full of himself in his backyard refuge.

“Why’d you kill those bears then?” she asked him playfully.

Mills shook his head with a smile and explained.

“When I was 14 years old I shot two bears up in British Columbia,” Mills said. “I didn’t shoot them for food, I shot them to be a big shot, rotten kid, and to this day I regret it. Every time Bonnie wants to take the wind out of my sails, she brings it up.”

These days, the bears seem far from his mind. Kia dozes happily on a cabinet in the kitchen, and her vet predicts that she’ll easily celebrate her 25th birthday. A pair of rescued Chinese walking ducks are settling in the shrubs behind the bedroom, and baby ducks and geese paddle contentedly in the water.

“We get hundreds of hummingbirds here in the summer,” Mills said. “At night there are four or five families of baby ducks and the geese and their babies and the turtles swimming out there. It’s like you died and went to heaven. I don’t care how bad a mood you come home in, you go sit out there and all is well.”

For more information about the National Wildlife Federation and its backyard wildlife habitat certification program, visit nwf.org.

Contact Sunrise and Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 380-4532.

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like