and Wildlife Service Announces Urban Treaty for Bird
When most Americans think of wildlife, we tend to conjure up images of grizzly bears in the backcountry of Yellowstone, or some similarly wild animal in a remote and pristine setting. But many of us forget that the birds we see outside our windows every day are wildlife also in need of conservation.
In an increasingly urbanized America, birds represent the sole everyday contact many of us have with wildlife. In addition, habitat that attracts birds in our communities - greenways, parks and tree-lined streets and neighborhoods - also enriches our lives.
It is this connection that draws an estimated 63 million Americans to bird-related activities, and generates more than $20 billion annually for the U.S. economy. In fact, birdwatching is one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the U.S., outpacing golf and rivaling gardening in terms of the number of participants. Birdwatchers spend an average of $100 million in each state, directly supporting approximately 200,000 jobs and generating more than $1 billion in state and federal taxes.
For these and many other reasons, birds should be considered a critical component of the "livability" and economic health of any community.
Recognizing the pivotal role that cities can play in bird conservation, the Department of the Interiors U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) is announcing its innovative and exciting "Urban Treaty for Bird Conservation" pilot program. The Urban Treaty will represent an agreement between a U.S. city and the Service for the purpose of conserving migratory birds through education and habitat improvement strategies.
"We view this as a partnership based on the specific needs of each treaty city. Were open to creative ideas from cities for ways to conserve and enhance urban bird populations," said Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.
The Urban Treaty for Bird Conservation pilot program will be unveiled at the Conferences convention in New Orleans on Sunday June 13 at 2 p.m. in an event on the citys waterfront. The program will compliment the Conferences own urban livability initiatives.
The ceremony will be at the dock on Sunday when the Mayors return from the Jazz Brunch Cruise. Immediately after the event, there will be transportation available to nearby Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge for up to 60 people to take a complimentary swamp tour cruise of the refuge. Bayou Sauvage, which encompasses 23,000 acres, is the largest urban refuge in the U.S., and participants should see plenty of alligators and birds within the city limits of New Orleans.
The Service has 516 refuges throughout all 50 states, many of which are near urban areas and offer cities excellent partnership opportunities.
The Urban Treaty grants will provide a framework to support education programs, habitat restoration and enhancement, and other initiatives mutually agreed upon by the Urban Treaty city and the Service. The Service is also prepared to provide Urban Treaty cities with technical assistance and educational materials, and to help organize habitat improvement projects.