Aug 13

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex Awarded $1 Million in Urban Wildlife Refuge Challenge

This morning, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Screenshot 2014-08-19 19.54.35Complex is the winner of a nationwide competition among urban wildlife refuges to receive an addition $1 million this year-  and in subsequent years-  to expand its urban refuge partnership program. Way to go San Diego!

The refuge’s winning proposal, the SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project, includes outdoor learning, service and stewardship of natural habitats, and conservation-based projects for youth and young adults from diverse communities.  It encompasses activities not only at the San Diego NWR Complex but also to the north at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a new Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership for this year, and in Los Angeles under the auspices of the Los Angeles Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership and Friends of the Los Angeles River.  Ten exceptional programs have been incorporated into the SoCal Project that will complement and expand current outreach and education programs on the refuges.

Refuge visitors on a hike at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS

Refuge visitors on a hike at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge | USFWS

It is estimated that over 80 percent of the U.S. population live in urban areas. National Wildlife Refuges provide an excellent opportunity to make the connection between the outdoors, and city life. This means partnering with local communities and organizations to support programs on refuges, or to bring the outdoors to the city. The Urban Wildlife Refuge Program and the Youth Initiative are the answers to these needs.

With 17 million people, San Diego is the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and can set an example for the rest of the country on how to help city residents connect more efficiently with a world of trees, water, fish, and wildlife.

President Obama strongly supported the initiative by proposing $50.6 million for Interior youth programs in his 2015 budget, representing a $13.6 million (or 37 percent) increase from 2014.  Included in the budget is an increase of $2.5 million for the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative, $8 million to expand opportunities for youth education and employment across the National Park Service and an additional $1 million in the Bureau of Indian Affairs for youth programs.

For more information, view the full press release here.

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