Thursday, April 20, 2023
- Urban Wildlife Conservation Program
- America the Beautiful Initiative
- Memorandum on Promoting Equitable Access to Nature in Nature-Deprived Communities
NAMPA, Idaho—Today during a visit to the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams announced a $1 million investment for conservation partnerships at the refuge. This funding is a part of the Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, which supports 101 urban refuges across the country that host more than 11.7 million people a year. The program facilitates long-term, place-based collaborative partnerships engaging communities in conservation on and off Service lands.
“For the 80 percent of Americans who live in or near cities, urban national wildlife refuges provide vital access to nature and outdoor recreation, while also boosting local economies. By fostering long-term partnerships with local communities, the urban wildlife refuge program is essential to ensuring that every community has a meaningful chance to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the surrounding wildlife and its habitats,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “This work underscores the importance of the America the Beautiful initiative, which puts people at the center of our national conservation goals and outlines an inclusive vision where places like urban wildlife refuges create more outdoor opportunities.”
“Working in partnership with local communities and stakeholders is critical to the successful conservation of wildlife and to creating more outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “With this investment, together we can continue to build on the great work that has already been done at the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge and help ensure a future for fish, wildlife, and plants for the continuing benefit of people.”
Through the President’s America the Beautiful initiative, the Administration is supporting locally led and voluntary efforts to protect, conserve, connect and restore land and waters across the nation that sustain the health of our communities, power local economies, and help combat climate change. The Administration’s focus areas include improving equitable access to nature and outdoor recreation. The Department is also a partner on the Interagency Memorandum of Understanding on Promoting Equitable Access to Nature in Nature-Deprived Communities, which seeks to reduce the number of people without access to nature in their communities.
The funding announced today will be added to the refuge’s yearly base budget to support ongoing efforts to provide more diverse and equitable opportunities for the community to engage with nature. It will help support the Treasure Valley Urban Wildlife Conservation Partnership, a coalition of local organizations that support equitable and welcoming opportunities to learn and engage with nature on public lands, including at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. The partnership will steward natural spaces and build resilience to the effects of climate change and other threats to wildlife. The partnership reflects ongoing work between refuge staff, Canyon County, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Nampa and Caldwell School Districts, Peques Nature Club, Bogus Basin, COMPASS – Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, Friends of Deer Flat, the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho and others.
Established in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Deer Flat is one of the oldest national wildlife refuges in the country. Over 200,000 people visited the refuge last year, which protects a wide range of wildlife habitats: the open waters and wetland edges of Lake Lowell, the sagebrush steppe uplands around the lake, and the grasslands and riparian forests on the Snake River islands. The variety of habitats makes the refuge an important breeding area for resident and migratory birds, including providing one of the few nesting areas for western and Clark’s grebes in Idaho. The refuge is also a significant resting and wintering area for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, including spectacular concentrations of mallards and Canada geese.
Today’s announcement comes as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) turns 50 years old in 2023. Throughout the year, the Department is celebrating the ESA’s importance in preventing imperiled species’ extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.
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