The times, they are a-changin’. In fact, the times have already changed in the U.S.
Today, 80 percent of residents live in big and little cities, far removed from the rural communities that brought close connections to wildlife. Caucasian Americans are projected to be 47 percent of the population in 2050, compared to 85 percent in 1960. Hispanic Americans will make up nearly 30 percent of the population in 2050, up from just 3.5 percent in 1960.
The Conserving the Future Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative is one way the Refuge System is working within the context of change. The initiative is assembling strategies to help the Refuge System build sustainable support among a new conservation constituency.
“How do we teach a new generation to love the land when pavement is what they usually meet?” asked Marcia Pradines, co-chair of the Urban Initiative implementation team. “How do we help children find inspiration in nature when they spend so much time indoors and plugged in? Those are just the questions the Urban Initiative is designed to answer.”
Urban Academy: Measuring Up to Standards of Excellence
The Urban Academy, Sept. 23-25 at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia, is one element of the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative. There, more than 20 Friends will join about 150 participants to learn not only how to understand cultural diversity, but also how to overcome barriers, create partnerships and to understand and engage new audiences.
Central to the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative are the Standards of Excellence to help refuges better serve urbanized communities. The Standards will be open for public comment through most of September on http://americaswildlife.org/.
Equally central to the Wildlife Refuge Urban Initiative is establishment of seven Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships this year and three more by 2015. The partnerships enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with key community organizations to expand the nation’s conservation constituency. The seven partnerships are:
- Creating Urban Oasis in New Haven (CT) Harbor Watershed
- Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Chicago
- Houston Wilderness
- Providence Diversity of Wildlife, Lands and Communities Project
- Masonville Cove Urban Wildlife Refuge, Baltimore, MD
- Lake Sammamish Kokanee Salmon Partnership, Seattle. WA
- Los Angeles River Rover
One of seven new Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships will bring a conservation message to Masonville Cove, a poor neighborhood in Baltimore. Here, children fish at the cove, an inlet of Chesapeake Bay. (Courtesy of National Aquarium)
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