Press Releases

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
No. 114

New York City Becomes Ninth City To Join Bird Treaty

New York City became the ninth city in the nation this week to sign an Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. The Treaty, a partnership among The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), New York City Parks and Recreation, Audubon New York and New York City Audubon, is a commitment to restore, conserve and protect valuable bird habitat within New York City’s urban environment and to develop an informed public through education and training programs.

Backed by a $65,000 challenge grant from the Service, the Urban Conservation Treaty will support initiatives throughout New York City. Partnering organizations will match the grant money with funding and “in-kind” contributions of goods and services, with a total contribution of more than $450,000.

For the vast majority of urban and suburban residents, birds represent their most frequent contact with wildlife,” said Lynn Scarlett, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, who took part in the signing ceremony. “New York City, which lies along the Atlantic Flyway, is an essential urban sanctuary for migrating birds. We are pleased to work with New York City and other partners to support bird habitat conservation.”

“This partnership is not only good for birds – it is also good for the citizens of New York City,” said Marvin Moriarty, Northeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Wildlife watching contributes significantly to people's enjoyment of the outdoors, and is a major contributor to state and national economies. In fact, in 2006, nearly 71 million Americans spent more than $45 billion observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife.”

Ponds, lakes, native trees, and other plant life in city parks can provide important resting and breeding grounds for thousands of migrating birds that fly through New York and other cities every spring and fall. With nearly 53,000 acres of open space and parkland, New York City has much to offer to migrating birds on the Atlantic coast.

As part of the Treaty commitment, partners will work together to improve New York City’s bird habitat by increasing stewardship, providing restoration of key areas and ensuring proper monitoring in all New York City natural areas, including the City’s Important Bird Areas, Forever Wild sites, and other critical habitats.

Birds are an aesthetic, cultural, scientific and economic resource to the Nation. Through this agreement, partners will work with New York City to heighten public awareness of birds and the importance of open space to bird conservation through public programs and events, including education programs for school children and citizen scientists. The City will also increase and improve protected natural areas, restore and protect existing nesting areas such as North Brother Island and the Rockaway Beach Endangered Species Nesting Area, and develop a green-collar workforce through the GreenApple Corps program.

"I am honored to join with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to aid in its efforts to protect migratory birds," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "New York City's parks are a crucial stopover for migratory birds and that is why it is critical that our parks provide a hospitable environment to these important members of our ecosystem. Today's agreement is a testament to the high quality of natural areas in New York City parks, thanks to ongoing support from scientists, activists, local elected officials, community members, and public-private partnerships."

The Urban Conservation Treaty Program started in 1999, when New Orleans became the first Urban Conservation Treaty. Other Treaty cities are Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., St. Louis, Nashville and Anchorage.

About NYC Parks & Recreation

Parks & Recreation is the steward of more than 29,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City — including more than 4,000 individual properties ranging from Yankee Stadium and Central Park to community gardens and Greenstreets. We operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds; we manage five major stadia, 550 tennis courts, 54 public pools, 51 recreational facilities, 15 nature centers, 13 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches; we care for 1,200 monuments and 22 historic house museums; we look after 600,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. We are New York City’s principal provider of athletic facilities. We are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.

About U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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