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Director's Corner

Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.

We Are Bringing Nature to the City

Last spring, I had the good fortune to go on a turkey hunt and bag my first wild turkey. Making the day even better; Wayne Hubbard, the host of Urban American Outdoors TV, was one of my hunting partners. 

Urban America Outdoors TV is the nation’s only African-American/diverse/urban television program devoted to outdoors recreational sports including, hunting and fishing.  

fishing derbyIn May, I got to take part in Urban America Outdoors's seventh annual Urban Kids Fishing Derby in Kansas City. Credit: UAO

I was thinking about that hunt, and the urban fishing derby later that weekend, recently as we mark Black History Month.

Last year, I recalled the strong legacy many African-Americans have left the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and it is worth remembering people like Holt Collier and Col. Charles Young. Certainly, the legacy continues growing. African-Americans Hannibal Bolton, Keenan Adams, Inez Uhl and many others graciously share their talents with the Service.  

Wayne Hubbard is also adding to the legacy. 

Every kid deserves the chance to experience nature – it’s a key part of our national heritage. And one of my most important priorities as Director is to work with our partners to help more Americans personally experience the natural world. 

But as more people grow up and live in cities, they are losing out on the benefits of the outdoors.

Studies show that strong relationships with nature are tied to healthy lives, but many lives these days are filled with fear, apathy, disregard for and discomfort with nature.

That’s why the work Wayne is doing is so needed. Wayne's enthusiasm, and his tireless efforts to get more urban Americans outside hunting and fishing, was infectious. I left Kansas City more determined than ever to bring the outdoors to everyone.

It is not just for benefit of urban America, either.

If people do not see the real benefits that nature provides – benefits like jobs, food, clean water, clean air, building materials, storm protection and recreation –  then they will not support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  And we need all Americans’ support to conserve the nature of America.

So we are hard at work to reach people in cities and all underserved populations.

We are adding urban refuges throughout the country like Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the first urban refuge in the Southwest. It joins refuges like Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia.

These urban refuges give young people – no, all city dwellers – a place to experience the outdoors. And if people aren’t at home in the outdoors, we’ve got all kinds of programs to introduce them to nature and hopefully spark a lifelong interest. 

We should all be able to take advantage of our country’s awesome nature. It’s fun, it’s healthy, and I promise you won’t regret it.

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