Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), William Penn Foundation, National Audubon Society, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently dedicated Philadelphia as an Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership city.
The special designation is part of the USFWS Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, which has provided more than $1.1 million since 2013 to partnerships across the nation to connect city residents with nature.
With this designation, Audubon Pennsylvania will receive $49,000 this year to support the partnership through the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and supported by the Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Fed Ex and Bank of America. This builds upon a $30,000 grant to support the partnership in 2014, which was from the same program.
The funding will support efforts in Southwest Philadelphia to create neighborhood green spaces and parks, provide environmental education programs in schools, improve access and transportation to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, connect the refuge to the Circuit trail network and provide jobs to young people throughout the year.
Other partners are contributing technical and financial support, including the school district of Philadelphia, Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition, Friends of Heinz Refuge, City Lights, Student Conservation Association, TreePhilly, City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and many others.
The William Penn Foundation also awarded a $146,000 grant to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge to support their environmental education efforts, further bolstering the partnership. This funding will support low-cost and free kayak tours to residents living adjacent to the refuge in Eastwick and Kingsessing. The tours, which will be operating in cooperation with L.L. Bean, will educate residents about the Tinicum Marsh, one of the largest fresh-water tidal marshes in the Delaware River watershed.
Philadelphia is one of 17 urban wildlife refuge partnerships across the country.