National Forest Foundation

U.S. Forest Service Reaches Urban Audience with ‘Urban Connections’

The National Forest System


In 2000, the Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service began laying the groundwork for Urban Connections (UC), an outreach effort that fosters mutual relationships to connect urban residents and the Forest Service through the conservation and enjoyment of forests and green spaces in the country’s largest metropolitan areas. It also a unique conduit for the three branches of the agency (State & Private Forestry, Research and National Forest System) to work together with urban leaders and other state and federal agencies to connect citizens to the land.

What is Urban Connections?

UC connects major metropolitan area residents to the outdoors. It is an approach centered on the energy, commitment, networks and proven programs of urban community leaders.

Who Oversees Urban Connections?

UC is an outreach program designed and carried out by staff of the Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service. UC is based on the idea that reaching urban communities help the mission: “Caring for the Land and Serving People."

Where Does Urban Connections Work?

The Forest Service has a long history of working with people who live close to National Forests. UC aims to expand the Agency’s engagement to those who may not live near a National Forest. The Eastern Region has nine of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, making it uniquely positioned to connect with diverse and underserved citizens.

UC works in Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit. A priority in all these cities is to increase awareness of Forest Service activities through partnerships, formal and informal networks and established relationships, while teaching urban residents about green spaces where they live.

What Does Urban Connections Do?

In Boston, UC worked with a local PBS Station to develop two videos for the program Plum Landing; the segments ‘A Forest in the City’ and ‘A City in the Forest’ introduce kids to urban forestry and natural ecosystems. Over in Detroit, thousands of volunteers have planted thousands of trees. One might find the Twin Cities UC coordinator planning a partner paddling trip one day, while over in Milwaukee, the UC team is leading fun, hands-on conservation education with kids of all ages.

Who Does Urban Connections Work With?

UC strives to be a touchstone for public involvement, information sharing and partnerships. This work engages interagency partners, interested citizens, nonprofit organizations and non-government organizations. UC also builds on existing urban outreach efforts of Eastern National Forests all while helping lead the nation’s urban education and research.

Click here to learn more and become involved.

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