National Wildlife Refuge System

8 Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships

Chicagoans learn about birding from Wild Indigo Nature Explorations at Cook County Forest Preserve.
Credit: Jennifer Johnson

In a major effort to connect city dwellers to nature, the National Wildlife Refuge System has established eight pilot urban wildlife refuge partnerships this year.
The pilot partnerships allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with key community organizations that have been active in wildlife conservation and can help set the stage for expanding the nation’s conservation constituency. The eight partnerships are:

The Rhode Island Refuge Complex and partners will bring conservation messages to parks, schools and a zoo to meet people where they are.
Credit: Mike Lusi/Nuetaconkanut Hill Conservancy
New Haven Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, Connecticut. This project will create a network of wildlife-friendly habitat oases and habitat improvements in municipal parks, schoolyards, vacant lots and units of Stewart B McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. Partners include Yale University, Urban Resources Initiative, National Audubon Society and more.

Forest Preserves of Cook County Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, Illinois. This project will create a ladder of nature learning and engagement opportunities that starts in urban neighborhoods and expands to the forest preserves, and ultimately, refuges. There will be birds and habitat-restoration presentations, guided nature walks, field trips and other outdoor activities. The goal is to hire young people to conduct outreach and restoration activities. Partners include Audubon Chicago Region, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Fuller Park Community Development, and Student Conservation Association.

Albuquerque Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, New Mexico. The Valle de Oro Refuge, Friends of Valle de Oro and Friends of Bosque del Apache Refuge will work on a community garden at the Mountain View Community Center, the closest community center to the new refuge.


Nature meets skyline near Houston's Buffalo Bayou, one of many sites where Texas refuges will work with Houston Wilderness to create shared conservation messages.
Credit: Marc Reid/Houston Wilderness
Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, Texas. The Texas Mid-Coast Refuge Complex will work with Houston Wilderness, an alliance of business, environmental and government interests, to create a coordinated conservation presence in the metro area.

Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Refuge Complex and the Service’s Southern New England/New York Bight Coastal Program will work with partners to take conservation messages to more than 100 parks, schools and a zoo. This partnership includes the City of Providence Park System, the Roger Williams Park Zoo and The Nature Conservancy.

Young people in Baltimore, MD, are involved in a replanting project along the Patapsco River.
Credit: USFWS

Masonville Cove Urban Wildlife Refuge, Maryland. This cooperative between the Chesapeake Bay Ecological Services office and Patuxent Research Refuge will bring a conservation message to a poor, high-crime neighborhood along the Patapsco River. Living Classroom Foundation will develop curriculum; BayBrook will help with internships, and the Maryland Community Naturalist Network will help develop mentors.

Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, Washington. This partnership will increase awareness, understanding, support of the Service and the Refuge System as well as conservation of aquatic ecosystems and native species at Lake Sammamish State Park and the Issaquah State Salmon Hatchery and elsewhere. 

L.A. River Rover Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, California. The San Diego Refuge Complex will create a River Rover, whose goal is to bring “people to the river” and “the river to the people.” The Rover will be a mobile exhibit with an interactive model of the Los Angeles River watershed.


“With 80 percent of the U.S. population currently residing in urban communities, the challenge to ensure our natural resources are conserved and valued by the American people has become even more complex,” the implementation team said in explaining the partnerships. “To ensure that we nurture a new conservation constituency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must promote strategies to engage these audiences in meaningful, collaborative ways that build sustainable, broad-based support for the their mission.”



Last updated: September 27, 2013