Photo of downtown Denver taken from Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

Working with Urban Communities

With 80% 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 complex. To ensure that we nurture a new conservation constituency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service must promote strategies to engage these audiences in meaningful, collaborative ways that build sustainable, broad-based support for the their mission.

The Challenge:

With 80% of Americans living in cities, how do we connect urban America with our wild places, such as national wildlife refuges? How do we teach a new generation to love the land – when pavement is what they usually see? How do we help children find inspiration in nature all around them – when they spend so much time indoors and plugged in? America will have much of their direct contact with nature while in an urban setting, thereby shaping the nation’s conservation values, ethics andpriorities, and requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to reach beyond our boundaries.


The Answer:

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System, entitled Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation, proposes the Service to increase relevancy to urban citizens. This initiative will establish measures to help define and achieve standards of excellence for urban refuges, create a framework for creating new urban partnerships, and establish a refuge presence in ten demographically and geographically varied cities in the U.S.


Standards of Excellence for Urban Refuges

Excellence may be achieved through seven standards that serve as a framework for collaboration between the Service and urban communities on and off Service lands.


Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships

Establish a refuge presence in ten demographically and geographically varied cities in the U.S. by 2014.


Know Your Community - An Urban Audience Analysis

An underlying need for working with communities is a better understanding of the factors that facilitate or inhibit connecting urban audiences with wildlife and nature.

Standards of Excellence

Photo of Nekton sampling during SMI training. Photo Credit: Katrina Papanastassiou/USFWS

Where We Are

Children holding Get Your Goose On! flags at Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska.

Know Your Community

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. Credit: USFWS
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.
Last modified: June 14, 2016
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
Twitter icon flickr icon Tumblr icon Pinterest Icon