Fall is an amazing time of change along the Pacific Flyway as birds begin their great movement toward warmer wintering places, including your Portland-Vancouver Urban Wildlife Refuges. Some move in large groups, while others take more of an individual journey. It is at places like Tualatin River and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuges where I am reminded that, no matter how and why they got here, these birds have found common ground.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Urban Wildlife Conservation Program - of which I am a part, and in many ways we are all a part - has been a journey of its own. It, too, has found common ground with many community partners after its hectic beginnings as a competition among Urban Refuges across the country. Chosen as the second metro area to receive the resources to launch an Urban Refuge Program, we succeeded on the premise that the partners of The Intertwine Alliance and the Portland-Vancouver community was the most ready to make best use of the resources.
This claim was substantiated by the tremendous work already underway by so many individuals and organizations working toward sustainable natural resource conservation, environmental and social justice, and our collective physical health. We also felt confident with our role in this work due to the rich history the USFWS already had with many community partners.
As a big sci-fi/fantasy nerd, I enjoy a good epic adventure. I guess this makes me well-suited for this new Urban Refuge Program whose quest, while containing a few initial steps, seems to reveal itself - and a bigger picture - along the way. Among our initial steps have been projects such as joining a neighborhood park creation effort at Cully Park, working with Intertwine staff to bring anti-racism training to our partners, supporting youth fishing events like Celebration of Wild Steelhead and I'm Hooked, and co-developing the Daycation mobile app. Even this website was part of our first steps.
But a fair question from those we have asked to join this epic adventure is "Why?" Why these projects? And why on earth is helping to build a website part of advancing conservation?
But a fair question from those we have asked to join in fellowship on this epic adventure is "Why?" Why these projects? And why on earth is helping to build a website part of advancing conservation? As someone who was not only been part of selecting these projects, but is also part of an Urban Refuge team working cooperatively with partners on them, I feel I can sum it up in one word: collaboration.
Whether we knew it or not less than two years ago when we launched the Portland-Vancouver Urban Refuge Program, our quest has revealed that collaboration is inherent to the success of our work. It's how a new pedestrian bridge finally replaced a long-standing access barrier at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. How youth can build a conservation ethic through hunting at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. It's at the heart of how the Oregon Zoo has welcomed the USFWS and other partners to share the story of nature at the new Education Center. And it's why we are drawn to support the collective efforts of our Intertwine Alliance partners.
Since I have the honor of writing the first "Partner Spotlight" for the new and improved Intertwine website, let me return to this example for a moment. My impression over two years of engaging with the Intertwine Alliance is that it thrives on its ability to convene and collaborate among groups working on commons goals. This is exemplified in real life through summits, forums, trainings, and projects.
The new website - with its improved parks and trails map, Intertwine Project portal, and more comprehensive partner profiles - is a great step forward in supporting this collaborative spirit online.
The new website - with its improved parks and trails map, Intertwine Project portal, and more comprehensive partner profiles - is a great step forward in supporting this collaborative spirit online. While perhaps not yet perfected, it is a tool that stands to benefit all of us, and was thus an easy choice for the Urban Refuge Program to get behind. It is my sincere hope that you find value in this new website, use it frequently, share it with your networks, and suggest improvements.
Like the birds who are now moving southward, we come to this space we call The Intertwine Alliance in groups and as individuals. We come for our own reasons, but what we hope to find is common ground. I know that's why I and my Urban Refuge Program teammates are there, waiting for the next part of our quest to reveal itself, perhaps merging our epic journey with yours.