Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Expands Urban Wildlife Conservation Program
$2.35 million for innovative partnerships to engage local communities, advance wildlife conservation, reach the next generation of conservation leaders

July 23, 2015

Contact(s):

Vanessa Kauffman
703-358-2138
vanessa_kauffman@fws.gov

 



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is launching new partnerships in cities across the nation to boost opportunities for city residents to connect with nature and engage thousands of volunteers in restoring local environments.

Three cities – Anchorage, AK; Atlanta, GA; and Springfield, MA – now join 14 others with Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships. These partnerships are collaborative efforts to provide residents of demographically diverse cities with fresh opportunities to get outdoors and experience nature within the urban environment. The partnerships encourage and nurture an appreciation of wildlife conservation among new audiences.

Five cities – Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; New Haven, CT; and McAllen, TX – are now designated Urban Bird Treaty cities, joining 21 other such partnerships nationwide. The Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds – known as the Urban Bird Treaty – works with cities and partners to conserve migratory birds through education, citizen science and conservation action in urban and suburban areas.

The new partnerships, which are all part of the Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, were made possible by the 2015 Five Star grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which generated $2.35 million in direct contributions and matching funds from local partners.

“The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program was created because we believe the future of conservation depends on engaging people in natural resource stewardship. That is especially true of the millions who live in America’s biggest cities,” said Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “These grants will make a huge difference in reaching new communities by creating local partnerships with the Service in neighborhoods across the country. The benefits will be felt for generations.”

With 80 percent of Americans living in urban communities, the challenge to ensure that natural resources are conserved and valued by the American people has become more complex. The Service is committed to serving this growing diverse, urban audience. The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, launched in 2013, provides new opportunities for residents of America’s cities to learn about and take part in wildlife habitat conservation.

The NFWF Five Star grants fund community-led habitat restoration and engage thousands of volunteers.

The three new Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships’ focus areas are:

  • Anchorage, AK: Empowering Anchorage’s Youth through Outdoor Leadership Development to Bring a Diversity of Perspectives and Citizen Engagement to Conservation of Alaska’s Migratory Birds, Wetlands and National Wildlife Refuges: The project will help restore 30 miles of Anchorage streams, provide opportunities for urban youth and families to engage in wildlife conservation, mentor urban and rural youth ambassadors to promote shared perspectives and leadership, and engage nontraditional partners to achieve shared conservation and urban community development objectives. The project will connect Anchorage’s diverse urban neighborhoods to their wild backyards, and foster unity among future urban/rural conservation leaders.
     
  • Atlanta, GA: Who’s Home on the Confluence?: The South Fork Conservancy and scientific partners will collect and analyze data on plant and animal populations and water quality at the degraded confluence of the south and north forks of Peachtree Creek. The partners, including the Service, will build creek access and engage underserved communities in monitoring and sustaining current restoration and green infrastructure efforts.
     
  • Springfield, MA: A Coalition of Action: Youth, Community and Partners Engaged in Environmental Education and Restoration: Students and community members will engage in environmental education and urban restoration projects to create a network of conserved habitats in the Connecticut River watershed.

The five new Urban Bird Treaty cities’ focus areas are:

  • New Haven, CT: The Urban Oases for Migrating Songbirds in the New Haven Harbor Watershed project, a designated Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership Project, employs an innovative model of community-based land stewardship. The model engages multiple stakeholders in restoring urban green spaces to provide quality stop-over habitat for migratory songbirds. It also addresses critical community needs in underserved neighborhoods of New Haven. Nine project partners, with input and support from the local community, will identify migratory songbird hotspots where community residents, particularly children and youth, would benefit from increased access to natural areas. Outreach events will celebrate the centennial of the first Migratory Bird Treaty, with Canada, in 2016.
     
  • Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Audubon Society will bring national and local forces together to create bird-friendly communities in two areas along tributaries of the Chattahoochee River. Participants will restore and enhance habitat for birds and begin regular inventory of birds. They will also provide citizen science opportunities for local communities and educational programs that heighten awareness about bird conservation and the need for quality habitat.
     
  • Baltimore, MD: Outward Bound Baltimore and partners will restore forest and shrub habitat, reduce collision hazards for birds, and create awareness for migratory birds in the city of Baltimore.
     
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Volunteers and partners will improve backyard habitat at 100 homes and restore mixed-hardwood forests at Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area in McKeesport, PA. Citizen scientists will track bird collisions with buildings throughout Pittsburgh and help apply collision-reducing window treatments at 200 homes.
     
  • McAllen, TX: The City of McAllen Urban Bird Conservation Project focuses on restoring land at the McAllen Nature Center, a 20-acre urban site. It also aims to raise awareness of nature spaces and conservation throughout the city of McAllen and surrounding Rio Grande Valley area.

Funding will also support existing urban partnerships in Anchorage, AK; Denver, CO; New Haven, CT; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; Baltimore, MD; Minneapolis, MN; Albuquerque, NM; Yonkers, NY; Portland, OR; Philadelphia, PA; Houston, TX; and Washington, DC. Learn more online at: http://www.fws.gov/urban.

Since it began in 1999, the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program has supported more than 750 projects in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than $8.5 million in federal funds and $7 million in private and corporate contributions have been leveraged with $60 million in matching funds at the local level. The program is administered by the NFWF, National Association of Counties, Wildlife Habitat Council and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Service contributed $540,000 to this year’s projects. Other funding partners in the 2015 Five Star grant program include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, FedEx, Southern Company, Bank of America, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. http://www.nfwf.org/fivestar


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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