About this Collection

Workshops with community leaders near seven urban refuges revealed how outdoor recreation opportunities benefit urban residents; the barriers to participate in the outdoors; and strategies for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to better connect and engage urban residents.

Read the report on workshops with urban community representatives to understand barriers, motivations, and strategies for connecting urban audiences with refuges, wildlife, and the outdoors: Barriers and Strategies to Connecting Urban Audiences to Wildlife and Nature

Below are some of the findings from community workshops around urban wildlife refuges:

What barriers prevent greater access or enjoyment of outdoor recreation opportunities by urban communities?

  • Feelings of otherness for minorities: uncomfortable being the only minority in the outdoors and not being represented in the cultural and historical dialogue about America’s natural landscapes and conservation
  • Fear for safety, health, and discomfort in the outdoors
  • Negative cultural stigmas about working outdoors

“I told my grandmother I was going to be a wildlife biologist and work outdoors. She said, ‘No, no, we worked too hard for you to be outdoors.’ People equate working in an office with upper-level positions. There is still thinking like that among Latinos. It’s a very real barrier... My husband’s dad didn’t think he had a real career because he was outside teaching kids to fish.” (statement from a community workshop participant)

What can be done to promote greater participation in outdoor recreation and use of refuges by urban communities?

  • We can’t just say “come visit the refuge.” Residents that fear the outdoors need more support when being introduced to nature and partnering with trusted community organizations is a good way to provide that support.
  • Urban protected areas are themselves a great strategy for introducing people to nature because they are less removed from the city and therefore less intimidating for some people – we should promote them and make them more accessible!
  • Enhance youth volunteer recruitment so youth can learn about career opportunities in natural resources management and gain valuable work experience. By focusing on career opportunities, refuges can play a role in developing “conservation leaders” for the next generation.