In May 2013 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined with many partner groups to form the New Haven Harbor Watershed Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. This initiative seeks to reconnect urban citizens to the nature that surrounds them and to engage them in improving wildlife habitat in their neighborhoods. The “Urban Oases” created by the partnership can then be enjoyed by both wildlife and people.
Audubon Connecticut, Common Ground High School, New Haven Urban Resources Initiative, New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, New Haven Department of Education, Yale Peabody Museum, Yale School of Forestry and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge are all collaborators in the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, as are many citizens within the city. These partners have engaged the community by developing “schoolyard habitats” of native plants to attract birds and pollinators. They’ve also lead curriculum-based environmental education lessons in public schools and in parks and wildlife refuges.
The latest undertaking of this group is the development of a forgotten section of Beaver Ponds Park, off Cherry Ann Street in New Haven. The partners have worked with the community to build an eco-friendly park featuring playground equipment, nature-themed walking trails, a fishing platform, a native plant meadow for pollinators, and a community garden. The partners are also planning to install wayside exhibits to interpret trees and animals that can be found in the park.
From the very beginning, the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership has worked relentlessly to bring about a hope that these oases will engage community members in appreciating the natural world around them, while creating a safe haven for urban wildlife and urban youth. There can be a bridge between the needs of wildlife and the needs of urban citizens, and it has started right here.
Check out the links below to learn more about the partnership.
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Did you know that there is a native cactus in Connecticut? Yes, Opuntia humifusa or the prickly-pear grows in all eastern states except Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Although it is rare and listed as a species of special concern in the state, you can find it on several units of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR.