Gifts from nature: Urban green spaces
Living in a concrete jungle doesn’t mean you don’t get a gift from nature. With 80 percent of Americans living in cities, it’s no surprise that sometimes there’s a need to escape from it all. Some might think that in order to get a little solitude and to experience nature, you need to venture to far, remote places. But Mother Nature has given the gift of outdoor green spaces right in the backyard of many cities.
During this season of holiday giving, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to take time and reflect on the gifts we receive throughout the year from Mother Nature. Gifts of Nature are treasures to behold and wonders to be thankful for.
Outside places in cities such as local parks provide areas to escape the commotion, get active and simply enjoy nature. National wildlife refuges are also places where you can do just that. Here is a glimpse of some refuges that provide opportunities to find inspiration all around Northeast cities:
• John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is located just one mile from the Philadelphia International Airport. Established in 1972 to protect the last 200 acres of freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania, the refuge provides a visitor center, fishing, a wildlife observation platform and 10 miles of trails, all within access of public transportation.
• A few miles south of the busy Virginia Beach boardwalk, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge conserves land along the Atlantic coast for the approximately 10,000 snow geese and large variety of ducks that visit the refuge during fall migration. The refuge also provides nesting habitat for other species, including loggerhead sea turtles, osprey, and bald eagles.
• Within an hour’s drive of New York City, you’ll find the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Once you’ve explored the recently constructed visitor center and its interactive exhibits, the refuge offers canoeing and kayaking, environmental education programs, wildlife viewing and hunting.
In order to continue to enjoy the wildlife and recreation opportunities these urban escapes provide, be sure to take care of them when you visit. Take trash with you, respect trail signs, and leave animals and plants as you find them; you don’t want to spread an invasive species!
So don’t let turkey be the only bird you’ve seen this holiday season. Go for a hike or a walk in the park, or view wildlife at your local national wildlife refuge. Enjoy the gift of green spaces right in your backyard!
Learn more about the Service’s vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System: Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation.