WASHINGTON – This week, Congressmen Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced a bipartisan, bicameral resolution to designate September 29 at National Urban Wildlife Refuge Day.
These resolutions highlight the value added to our communities through Urban Wildlife Refuges – primarily promoting conservation, increasing access to wildlife-dependent recreation, and protecting local watersheds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that youth ages 8-18 spend on average 6-9 hours a day in front of screens. Wildlife refuges provide opportunities for children and people of all ages to discover the outdoors and gain a greater appreciation for the natural world.
As America continues to become more urbanized and our younger generations flock to metropolitan areas, it is more important than ever to emphasize the significance of our Urban Wildlife Refuges. The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program supports 101 National Urban Wildlife Refuges and 29 Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships that work to connect with Americans living in cities to deliver greater wildlife conservation and access to recreation, especially hunting and fishing.
"The American conservation ethic - best science, best practices, greatest good, longest term - should extend to wildlife refuges in urban spaces,"said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke."Growing up in Montana, I spent countless hours outdoors, hunting and fishing.All Americans should have the opportunity to appreciate our public lands. Outdoor recreation is a key part of our American heritage."
“National Urban Wildlife Refuges play an important role in conservation efforts, but also support local economies by promoting outdoor recreation,” said Congressman Wittman. “September 29th will be a day to celebrate all that these refuges bring to our communities, and signify the critical contributions they will provide for generations to come.”
“National Urban Wildlife Refuges give city residents a crucial opportunity to interact with nature, all while turning a profit for local economies” said Congressman Jeffries. “At a time when many spend all of their time in front of screens, it is critical we provide these types of opportunities for citizens to get out and explore the great outdoors. I am proud to have co-sponsored this bipartisan piece of legislation to commemorate all that National Urban Wildlife Refuges offer to our communities. Senators Bennet and Toomey, along with Representative Wittman should be thanked for their stalwart leadership in this regard.”
“Urban wildlife refuges, such as the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Pennsylvania, offer unique recreational and educational opportunities for city residents and outdoor enthusiasts alike,” said Senator Toomey. “I am happy to help designate September 29th as Urban Wildlife Refuge Day, to recognize the benefits these refuges provide to their local communities.”
“Coloradans understand the importance of accessing the outdoors,” said Senator Bennet. “The Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge was established not only to protect one of our nation’s most treasured species—the bald eagle—but also to provide opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing just outside of Denver. The celebration of National Urban Wildlife Refuge Day this Saturday will honor our nation’s foresight to conserve these places for future generations.”