The Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds program is designed to help municipal governments conserve migratory birds that nest or fly through their cities. Launched in 1999, the first treaty was signed with New Orleans, and the second with Chicago. We have enjoyed remarkable success with both Treaties and are expanding the network of participating cities. We hope that your city will join this growing network and help us save birds and improve the quality of life for your citizens.

Why do we need a program dedicated to conserving birds in our cities? The short answer is that we are all wildlife managers. Each of us makes decisions in our daily lives that have the potential to either help or harm wildlife. In the case of birds, it can be something as simple as keeping pet cats inside, turning off the lights of a high-rise office building at night, buying shade-grown coffee, and being sure to choose bird-friendly native plants, fertilizers, and pesticides for a backyard garden. Unfortunately, people living in urban areas often are unaware of these and many other things they can do to help conserve migratorybirds.

The Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds program is designed to increase citizen awareness through partnerships between the USFWS and municipal governments to increase public understanding of the importance of migratory bird conservation. In addition to education and outreach projects, Urban Conservation Treaties also help finance the creation and restoration of city parks and greenways. This is not only good for the birds, but also for the quality of life of people living in and visiting our cities.

This is a very exciting time in the world of bird conservation. An increasing number of coalitions - the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners In Flight, the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and the North American Waterbird Plan - are all gathering partners and momentum for bird conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere. Indeed, the latest partnership - the North American Bird Conservation Initiative - is organizing these forces into an even more effective front. Urban Conservation Treaties further increment our abilities, helping to blanket the U.S. with wall-to-wall bird conservation action.

As more and more people live in increasingly urbanized settings, I am reminded of a passage from Aldo Leopold's classic book, A Sand County Almanac, in which he writes, "There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace." Those of us who've made it our jobs to conserve wildlife should be concerned about the public's growing detachment from nature, and work to inform people that they too can be wildlife managers. Because wildlife is everywhere, threats like habitat loss and exotic species invasions demand a comprehensive, wide-scale response. Our best hope of reconnecting people with nature lies with birds. Urban Conservation Treaties for Migratory Birds can deliver that message to people living in cities from coast to coast. If we all do our part, we can make a substantial difference for the birds . . . and for all wildlife.

Thomas O. Melius
Assistant Director - Migratory Birds and State Programs