March 31, 2016
Southwest Philadelphia's John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge will soon receive a wave of new educational programs focused on conservation after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced $1 million in annual funding during a gathering in Tinicum Thursday afternoon.
The investment, planned through a collaboration with several local partners, aims to promote a more connected environment by closing the gap between Philadelphia's communities and green spaces.
“This federal investment is key to providing new experiences and an appreciation for young people about the natural wildlife and habitat in their own neighborhood,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “The city is grateful for these resources that will support a holistic and well-rounded educational experience for youth.”
Established in 1972, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge covers approximately 1,200 acres and remains the largest freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania. As a key piece of the Philadelphia Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, John Heinz engages local youth through environmental science explorations and programs that examine the importance of sustainability.
“We are here today to celebrate the result of a collaboration that has resulted in $1 million to be invested annually in the Heinz National Wildlife Refuge,” said U.S. Congressman Robert Brady. “This is hugely important to the city of Philadelphia and the First Congressional District. This investment means that we are connecting urban communities to green spaces and environmental conservation, employment opportunities and recreation activities. This is a win for our environment and our communities.”
Partners in the collaboration include Audubon Pennsylvania, Student Conservation Association, William Penn Foundation, the school district of Philadelphia, Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition, Philadelphia Water Department, and several other organizations.
In addition to educational opportunities, the annual investment will create jobs for local youth and community members while expanded recreational activities at the refuge. Some of this money will also work to support programming at nearby Cobbs Creek and Bartram's Garden.
“Protecting open space and the outdoors supports thousands of jobs and generates more than half a billion dollars in economic activity in Pennsylvania alone each year,” said U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan. “This investment into the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge will help more young people and families in our region benefit from all the refuge has to offer. It means more opportunities for our communities to benefit from the refuge and more opportunities to educate young people about the importance of conserving and preserving our natural heritage.”