Masonville Cove Designated as Nation’s First Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership

Baltimore, MD –  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe designated Masonville Cove in Baltimore as the nation’s first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership.

In a press release announcing the new refuge, the USFWS noted 80 percent of Americans live in cities, and the Service’s new Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative will forge connections between the National Wildlife Refuge System, natural resource conservation, and urban residents.

“National wildlife refuges are the best of America’s wild places, but many are not near major metropolitan areas,” Ashe said, adding, “Most Americans have grown up without a real connection to the outdoors and wildlife, and the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative gives us a chance to change that.”

Joel Dunn, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Conservancy, which advocated for the refuge, said “Opening a door to nature for city residents and opening our cities to wildlife, is a powerful way to get more of us to tune into the joys of being outdoors. These places help us understand our rivers and the bay. From Masonville Cove people will be able to fish, bird watch, and set out on expeditions to explore the harbor and connect to bigger adventures on the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail , which flows right past the refuge.”

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Chesapeake Bay Trust will dedicate a total of $55,000 in support of the Masonville Cove partnership.

In 2007, the Maryland Port Administration selected Masonville Cove as a future site to store material dredged from the harbor to maintain shipping channels and began the massive clean up of the site. During restoration, 27 abandoned vessels and 61,000 tons of trash have been removed, including debris believed to date back to the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

Masonville Cove Nature Area was opened in 2012 on a site owned by the Maryland Port Administration on the Patapsco River and allowed public access to the cove for the first time in more than 70 years. The nature area offers opportunities within the city limits for walking, fishing, bird watching and other recreational activities. The nature area is 11 acres in size. It will expand to 52 acres after more of the site is restored.

An energy-efficient, “green” environmental education center opened in 2009 at Masonville Cove. Living Classrooms Foundation, the National Aquarium, and the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition run programs at the center that have reached thousands of community members, local schoolchildren and their teachers.

The Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative grows out of the Service’s Conserving the Future vision, which sets a strategic path for the National Wildlife Refuge System for the next decade and beyond. For more information, visit

The Service manages more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 150 million acres across America. Many of the wildlife refuges are in urban areas, including Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Detroit and Boston, among other cities. More than 47 million people annually visit national wildlife refuges.