Bringing Conservation to Urban Areas

Why is environmental conservation important to Detroit?

WDET’s Amy Miller talks with John Hartig, author of the new book Bringing Conservation to Cities: Lessons from Building the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, about the importance on nature and conservation in Detroit.

  • Urban population: Hartig says that since 80% of the North American population now lives in urban areas, we must shift conservation emphasis to cities, and make nature a part of day-to-day life in urban areas.
  • New generation of conservationists: Hartig says that most conservationists would rather move and work somewhere “pristine”, such as Yellowstone, than work in a city.  He believes that we need a new generation of conservationists who are invested in cities.  He says Detroit has a negative image, but points to large public-private conservation and nature projects such as Detroit Riverwalk.
  • Michigan conservation history: Hartig talks about Detroit and Michigan’s historical role in environmental conservation. He says duck hunters from Detroit are credited with beginning the Industrial Pollution Control Program of Michigan, and that the UAW and CAW participated in the first official earth day. 
  • Stewardship: Hartig says people must adopt an attitude of stewardship towards the environment, instead of viewing pollution and environmental destruction as an inevitable cost of industry and urban life. 

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation