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On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Mayor Toni Harp, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Pam Toschik, Chief of Migratory Birds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a treaty to protect international travelers—an Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds—along with Audubon Connecticut and 20 other community partner signatories. The treaty between the City of New Haven and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges the importance of local efforts and partnerships to achieve migratory bird conservation throughout the greater New Haven metropolitan area.
The treaty signing was part of a ceremony that took place at East Rock Park, where the Elm City was designated as an “Urban Bird Treaty City” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—making it one of 26 Urban Bird Treaty Cities across the country and the second in Connecticut (Hartford was designated in 2012). The Urban Bird Treaty program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and participating U.S. cities that brings together private citizens, Federal, State, and municipal agencies, and non-governmental organizations to conserve migratory birds.
Being an Urban Bird Treaty City Has Far-Reaching Benefits
"Beyond wildlife conservation, it's important that we create a lasting connection between young people, our urban residents and the great outdoors," said Wendi Weber, Northeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "That is why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started an urban conservation program. It's about making sustainable connections, and providing opportunities for people to experience nature in their cities. The Urban Oases initiative in New Haven works with local communities and neighborhoods to make a difference for the environment and foster natural resource stewardship."
This designation is a result of efforts to create “Urban Oases”—patches of healthy habitats that benefit both wildlife and people—in schools, parks, and yards across New Haven. Audubon Connecticut was awarded an Urban Bird Treaty grant of $49,993 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support these efforts carried out in partnership with Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Center, Yale Urban Resources Initiative, the City of New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New England Coastal Program, Yale Peabody Museum, Menunkatuck Audubon Society, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven Land Trust, New Haven Public Schools, and local neighborhood groups.
“This designation recognizes that New Haven is a leader in demonstrating how cities can provide important habitat for birds and other wildlife, while also making our neighborhoods healthier and more beautiful places for people to live” said Stewart Hudson, Executive Director of Audubon Connecticut and Vice President of the National Audubon Society. “Through our Urban Oases program in New Haven and other cities in Connecticut, we are proving that what’s good for birds is good for people.”
With Partnerships We Can Do Great Things
Together, the partnership is connecting people and habitats, restoring open spaces, improving water quality in Long Island Sound and inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders. This powerful partnership was recognized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe in 2013 when New Haven was designated as the “New Haven Harbor Watershed Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership”—one of the first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships in the country. Additional support for these efforts comes from the Disney Conservation Fund and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.
“We are delighted New Haven is receiving this designation, especially as it highlights the commitment of so many people across federal and local government to non-profits and local volunteers to create valuable habitat in our city,” said Colleen Murphy-Dunning, Executive Director of Yale Urban Resources Initiative.
As part of the ceremony, community members and students talked about the value of these urban oases to the local community. Three students from Common Ground High School, Nate Wilson, Kathiana Torres, and Malik Joyner, spoke of their experiences restoring habitat at the Urban Oases sites and at schoolyards across New Haven as part of their work with Common Ground’s Green Job Corps and the Urban Resources Initiative summer crew. Nate and Malik also serve on the Advisory Council of the New Haven Harbor Watershed Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. "I enjoyed working at the greenspaces because we connected with neighborhood leaders and with community members who would come by and tell us we were making a difference in the community,” said Malik.
"For me, the partnership represented here—between the City of New Haven, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Audubon, the Urban Resources Initiative, Common Ground, and many others—is one of the most exciting things going on in New Haven,” said Joel Tolman, Common Ground’s Director of Impact and Engagement. “The vision of a city that’s a refuge—for people, for birds, for all living things—is a really powerful one. The idea that we would be growing a network of urban oases—again, for people, for birds, and for all living things—is such a practical, scalable, meaningful way to grow toward this vision."
Recognizing Great Strides Brings Everyone Together
The ceremony was part of a larger celebration that began at 8 a.m. with bird walks, live music with the bluegrass band Bait & Switch, a native plant sale, and a live birds-of-prey educational show. The celebration was not only for the Urban Bird Treaty designation, but also other important events that matter to birds: the Centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty—the first of several treaties founded to protect birds that migrate across international borders; and International Migratory Bird Day—an annual event that celebrates the migration of hundreds of species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
“The New Haven Parks Department is excited by this designation and the recognition of the work of the numerous partners who are dedicated to stewardship of our Parks and connecting residents with nature,” said Rebecca Bombero, Director, New Haven Parks, Recreation, and Trees.
About Audubon: Audubon’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. For more information, visit AudubonCT.org.
About U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 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. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
Contact: Michelle Frankel, Audubon Connecticut, firstname.lastname@example.org, 203-930-1350