National Wildlife Refuge System

Northwest Refuges Receive $1 Million for Community Outreach

Angela Vogel won a Friends of Ridgefield photo contest award with this image of mergansers from Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA, one of the refuges participating in the new urban partnership.

April 22, 2015  – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced that national wildlife refuges in Oregon and Washington will receive $1 million in funding to reach new audiences and engage urban communities and youth in conservation and outdoor recreation.


“This dedicated funding leverages the innovative conservation partnerships already in place and amplifies our ability to provide opportunities for youth and diverse communities to connect with the great outdoors in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan areas, said Ashe. “As we tackle the conservation challenges in the 21st century, it is vital we engage the next generation of conservationists and connect communities with their public lands.”


The Portland-Vancouver Urban Wildlife Conservation Program focuses on four main areas of public benefit – equitable access to nature, the connection between nature and health, conservation education, and public engagement – aligning closely with the work underway by The Intertwine Alliance. The Intertwine Alliance, of which the Service is a founding member, brings together more than 140 government, NGO, community and corporate partners to ensure a system-wide approach to conservation, restoration and education.


Innovative projects that will be funded through the program include a trailer with fishing gear to bring fishing opportunities to at-risk youth; an outdoor skills-building workshop in conjunction with the Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife; and construction of a 40,000-square-foot Inter-Tribal Gathering Garden at Cully Park, Portland’s most diverse, park-deprived neighborhood, to provide a place that will honor and educate about indigenous cultural values and ethics.


Puddle Stomper preschoolers meet a rough-skinned newt at Tualatin River Refuge, OR.

“The Intertwine Alliance is demonstrating that a collective approach to public and youth engagement, community health, and equity and inclusion yields a much deeper and more sustained impact, said Executive Director Michael Wetter. “In making this investment, the Service is both challenging us to take this work to the next level, and supporting us in doing so. Our job now is to partner with our national wildlife refuges to demonstrate to the nation the power of collaboration and collective action. We are up to this challenge.”


The Portland-Vancouver Urban Wildlife Conservation Program includes the Tualatin River, Ridgefield, Steigerwald Lake, and Wapato Lake national wildlife refuges. These refuges provide a unique set of opportunities from the family friendly Tualatin River Bird Festival to guided nature walks to the Cathlapotle Plank House at Ridgefield. The new program will allow the refuges to connect new audiences and expand existing opportunities.


The Service’s 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 Service is committed to serving a growing diverse and urban audience, and has risen to that challenge by creating the million dollar initiative. This funding demonstrates the Service’s strong commitment to better serving people in cities across the country and the need to engage them more in efforts to conserve the nation’s wildlife heritage.

Last updated: April 22, 2015