Audubon Society’s New Strategy Targets Urbanites and Minorities

The National Audubon Society, long respected as a defender of birds and their habitat, is adopting a new strategy aimed at ensuring its own health and survival: The 98-year-old conservation group plans to build 1,000 urban nature centers in cities around the U.S. by 2020, an effort aimed at engaging city dwellers and minority populations. The group’s membership is now dominated by older white people, but its leadership wants to help a broader range of folks appreciate the nature that’s in their backyards. Audubon opened its first urban facility last year in Brooklyn; a Halloween crow-counting event at the center last week was expected to attract up to 5,000 visitors. The group’s second urban center will open its doors this week in Los Angeles, in a little-known park along the Pasadena Freeway that is home to 136 avian species. “We can’t succeed in protecting distant wild places if we do not have urban constituencies that care,” said Audubon President John Flicker.