In our increasingly urban society, studies have repeatedly shown that access to nature and the outdoors makes us healthier and happier. This is particularly true for children and young adults. The opportunities for residents of major urban areas across the country to gain that all-important access just received a substantial boost thanks to new and expanded partnerships led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its Urban Wildlife Conservation Program. This initiative connects city residents with nature and engages thousands of volunteers in restoring local environments.
These programs were made possible by the 2016 Five Star grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which generated over $2 million in direct contributions and matching funds from local partners.
“It’s becoming more difficult for our children to grow up healthy amid the treeless concrete-scape of our burgeoning cities,” said Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “By creating natural oases in the form of urban refuges and urban bird partnerships we can bring nature back to our cities and provide kids a tremendous health boost, the benefits of which will last their entire lives. We will also provide ourselves a wonderful respite from our own hectic, indoor, metropolitan lives.”
Four cities – Twin Cities, MN; Cincinnati, OH; Elizabeth, NJ; and West Palm Beach, FL – now join 17 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.
One new city – Springfield, MA – is now designated an Urban Bird Treaty city, joining 26 other such partnerships nationwide. The Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds, as it is formally known, works with cities and partners to conserve migratory birds through education, citizen science and conservation action in urban and suburban areas.
Funding will also support existing urban partnerships in Baltimore, MD; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Jamaica Bay, NY; New Haven, CT; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Providence, RI; Seattle, WA; Yonkers, NY; and Washington, D.C. Learn more online at: http://www.fws.gov/urban.
“By committing additional funding through the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, we will make a huge difference for communities and neighborhoods in cities across the United States,” said Ashe. “We thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for its vision and dedication to improving the outlook for urban Americans, and for providing unique opportunities to nurture the next generation of wildlife stewards and conservationists.”
With 80 percent of Americans living in urban communities, the challenge to ensure natural resources are conserved and valued has become more complex. The Service is committed to serving this growing diverse, urban audience. The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, launched in 2013, is providing new opportunities for residents of America’s cities to learn about and take part in wildlife habitat conservation.
The four new Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships’ focus areas are:
The new Urban Bird Treaty city focus area is:
Since 1999, the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program has supported more than 820 projects in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. More than $9.8 million in federal funds and $7.9 million in private and corporate contributions have been leveraged with $67 million in matching funds at the local level.
The Service contributed $360,000 to this year’s projects. Other funding partners in the 2016 Five Star grant program include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, FedEx, Southern Company, Bank of America and Alcoa. For more information, visit: 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.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.