Elm City

Angled shot of the front stoops of the historic Brownstone buildings in New Haven.
Historic Brownstones in New Haven. Photo credit: Bart Everson (Flickr)

New Haven, Connecticut

A bull dog sits on the ground of a stone building, looking up with his mouth open and tongue out.
A bull dog sits on the ground of a stone building, looking up with his mouth open and tongue out.
Handsome Dan XVIII. Photo credit: handsomedanxviii Instagram

New Haven has a long tradition of innovations from creating the first telephone exchange to its own style of pizza. Founded in 1638 — as a colony, the city was laid out in squares that surround a public space known as the New Haven Green. The elm trees surrounding the Green were planted as part of the first public tree-planting program in 1686 and gave the city its nickname, Elm City.

A fall day in a park with benches, leaves on the ground, trees lining the paved walking path.
A fall day in a park with benches, leaves on the ground, trees lining the paved walking path.
New Haven Green. Photo credit: Klaus Wagensonner (Flickr)

Today, New Haven is a stellar model of community-led, urban habitat conservation. Organizations like the New Haven Land Trust are working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) to conserve natural places for people and native wildlife.

New Haven Land Trust

A skyline of the city of New Haven, lots of sky scrapers and a body of water divides the city. Clear blue skies.
A skyline of the city of New Haven, lots of sky scrapers and a body of water divides the city. Clear blue skies.
The City of New Haven. Photo credit: Thomas Bunton (Flickr)

The New Haven Land Trust — Connecticut’s first urban land trust — worked to preserve open land in New Haven and give city residents opportunities to access and learn about the environment. In 2020, after years of collaboration, the Land Trust merged with New Haven Farms to form Gather New Haven: Neighbors and Nature Thriving Together.

Gather New Haven’s mission is to promote health, equity, and justice for people and the environment by cultivating connections with each other and our local lands and waters, and by inspiring us to care for ourselves, our community, and the natural world.

Gather New Haven continues to manage the six urban, nature preserves acquired by the New Haven Land Trust, including Long Wharf Nature Preserve. The organization also manages nearly 50 community gardens throughout the city.

Long Wharf Nature Preserve

Adults and kids standing on the banks of a marsh and wading in the water, exploring the nature preserve.
Adults and kids standing on the banks of a marsh and wading in the water, exploring the nature preserve.
Visitors at Long Wharf Nature Preserve. Photo credit: USFWS

The Land Trust, Audubon Connecticut, Coastal Program, and others worked together as part of the New Haven Harbor Watershed Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership to restore migratory bird habitat in this community’s backyard — and today, over 100 species of coastal birds can call Long Wharf Nature Preserve home.

The Coastal Program, Land Trust Alliance, New Haven Land Trust, and Firefly Imageworks, Inc. collaborated on this video that highlights the the importance of Long Wharf Nature Preserve to the local community and the partnerships that made it possible.

Solar Youth

A young black woman wearing glasses, hair half up, jean jacket, blue shirt standing outside among trees. She’s speaking.
A young black woman wearing glasses, hair half up, jean jacket, blue shirt standing outside among trees. She’s speaking.
Jaleesa Freeman at Long Wharf Nature Preserve. Photo credit: USFWS

“A lot of the members of the community don’t see how they are connected to nature or how important it is for the ecosystems in these areas to thrive.”

— Jaleesa Freeman, Development Officer for Solar Youth

Solar Youth carry out programs for local kids in their own neighborhoods — promoting exploration of nature and inspiring leadership. Organizations like Solar Youth need access to natural places like Long Wharf Nature Preserve to provide youth with a place where they can experience nature first hand — instilling in them a sense of wanting to protect their city’s oasis.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program (Urban Program) empowers local organizations, cities, and towns across the country to seek innovative community-based solutions for wildlife conservation. Working to understand the conservation issues as they affect local communities, the Urban Program directs Service resources to address these needs to help fish, wildlife and people.

Young blonde woman, with her hair up in a ponytail. Wearing a blue button up shirt, standing outside speaking.
Young blonde woman, with her hair up in a ponytail. Wearing a blue button up shirt, standing outside speaking.
Cindy Corsair, Coastal Program Biologist. Photo credit: USFWS

“Our partners give us the opportunity to really connect with local communities, while reaching our conservation objectives as the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.”

— Cindy Corsair, Coastal Program Biologist

The Coastal Program provides technical and financial assistance to local communities and partners to restore and protect habitats that benefit fish, wildlife, and people. We also develop resources that help land managers and practitioners to better deliver conservation. By working together, we can sustain the people and wildlife that rely on coastal and marine ecosystems.

Epicenter for Local Engagement

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program is a voluntary conservation initiative that works with communities to restore and protect land and water resources important to them. The Coastal Program provides technical and financial assistance for habitat conservation on public and private lands along the coast, including the Great Lakes, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at Coastal Program.

By Amanda Lawrence, Coastal & Marine Resource Specialist and Christopher Eng, Coastal Program Biologist

We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

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