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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


 May 3, 2007

Contacts: Michael Blenden, Project Leader, (719)589-4021

San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges Support Group
Receives National Recognition

The Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges were named “Friends Group of the Year” by the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation at an award ceremony held on March 3, 2007 at the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s “Beyond the Boundaries” workshop in Washington, D.C.  Presented annually, the national award is considered one of the most prestigious honors in the National Wildlife Refuge System. 

The Friends Group is an independent, non-profit organization consisting of approximately 100 members.  In the seven years since inception and despite limited resources, the group has undertaken an impressive array of projects directly benefiting the Alamosa, Baca, and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) and the National Wildlife Refuge System as a whole. 

The Friends Group has been instrumental in securing funding and volunteer services for the San Luis Valley refuges.  They have donated money and volunteer hours, planning community activities and public programs including the Kid’s Crane Festival held in October as part of National Wildlife Refuge Week, construction of wildlife observation trails, organizing “clean-up” days, and staffing the visitor center at Alamosa NWR during periods of high use and regularly during the summer. 

The Knowledge of Learning Grant provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation allowed the Friends Group and a refuge outdoor recreation planner to develop a science curriculum tied to state standards for grades K thru 5.  The curriculum includes both classroom and field-based lessons. 

The Friends Group is a major partner in supporting and conducting the springtime Monte Vista Crane Festival.  This event has taken place for 24 years and is one of the largest wildlife festivals in Colorado attracting birders and wildlife enthusiasts from around the country. 

The Friends Group is an important partner working with an array or organizations including the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Division of Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce to organize events and sponsor forums to enhance a broader understanding and protection of our wildlife and environmental resources.

For more information about the Friends Group and their numerous activities, please visit their web site at

The Monte Vista NWR consists of 14,800 acres and lies on the west side of the San Luis Valley, about eight miles south of the town of Monte Vista.  The Alamosa NWR consists of 12,026 acres is located three miles east of the town of Alamosa.  The refuges were established under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act as sanctuaries supporting migratory birds.

In November 2000, Congress authorized the establishment of the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.  After acquisition is complete the refuge consists of approximately 92,500 acres of wetlands, desert shrub land, and riparian lands located in Saguache and Alamosa Counties, Colorado.

 “The Friends Group of the San Luis Valley NWRs strengthen the refuges’ environmental education and outreach programs, provide service to the public, and fortify ties to the community and the Congress,” said Mountain/Prairie Regional Director Mitch King.  “This group exemplifies the valuable role volunteer citizen-based organizations have in advocating for and supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System’s wildlife conservation and public use programs.”



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