Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

June 30, 2009 

Contact:  Jackie Jacobson

               701-442-5474, ext. 17


               Sharon Rose

                sharon r


Secretary Salazar Announces $6.1 million for New Visitors Center at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge

COLEHARBOR, ND – Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced $6.1 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Audubon National Wildlife Refuge near Coleharbor, North Dakota.  The funding supports the construction of an energy efficient administrative office and visitor facility, with an emphasis on renewable energy.


The new facility will be designed and built by Keplin/Gracon JV from Rolette, North Dakota. Design will begin in June 2009 and construction will conclude in November 2010. This facility will be a prime example of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and will strive for the gold certification level, which incorporates many environmentally sustainable construction methods including the use of solar energy, vertical axis wind generation, geothermal heating and cooling system, and the use of many recycled materials. "Construction of this renewable-energy-powered visitors center provides one more example of how the Recovery Act is helping stand up America's economy.  We are making a bold investment in 21st century jobs and technologies on our public lands to meet our energy needs, rebuild our economy and protect our environment for future generations," said Secretary Salazar.   


Audubon National Wildlife Refuge is a showcase for wildlife, hosting over 300 species of wildlife. Annually 29,000 visitors venture onto the refuge to enjoy a multitude of wildlife observation and photography opportunities and environmental education and interpretive programs and to participate in hunting and ice fishing opportunities. The newly constructed visitor center will allow staff to build a stronger and more expansive environmental education and visitation program for the public. An exhibit hall will house dioramas, murals, and hands-on features that focus on the importance of wetlands and grasslands for migratory birds and other wildlife. An educational classroom will provide a means for gathering youth and adults to increase their knowledge about the functions and values of these important habitats, prior to visiting the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site, which is connected to the building via a trail system. “A primary objective of the visitor center at Audubon will be focusing on these important wetlands and grasslands and the tremendous benefits they offer to wildlife,” said Lloyd Jones, refuge manager at Audubon.


The administrative office will house fifteen permanent employees and up to 25 seasonal employees. The additional space will allow for expansion of youth employment through the Youth Conservation Corp program and Student Temporary Education Program which provide opportunities for young adults to gain experience in environmental stewardship and explore careers with the Service.


The office and visitor center to be constructed on Audubon Refuge is located in the midst of the Prairie Pothole Region, which is 300,000 square miles of wetlands (potholes) and grasslands that contain some of the most important waterfowl and grassland bird species habitat on the continent. This glacially-created landscape stretches from eastern Alberta to north-central Iowa and is nicknamed the ‘duck factory of North America,’ producing over 50 percent of the nations waterfowl. The wetlands and native grasslands in this landscape are among the most endangered habitat in the country. This Region is also a major migration corridor during fall and spring for ducks, geese, and other migratory birds.


Funding for these projects and hundreds more across the nation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Of the $3 billion appropriated to the Department of the Interior, the Act provides $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which includes $115 million for construction, repair and energy efficiency retrofit projects at Service facilities, and $165 million for habitat restoration, deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects. The Service will benefit from an additional $10 million, which is administered by the Department of Transportation and is not included in the Service’s $280 million appropriation that will be used to rebuild and improve roads on several national wildlife refuges. Projects will immediately create local jobs in the communities where they are located, while stimulating long-term employment and economic opportunities for the American public.


Recovery Act projects address long-standing priority needs identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through its capital planning process. The Service worked through a rigorous merit-based process to identify and prioritize investments meeting the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that a project addresses the Department’s highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.


Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Department of the Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures – our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage – while helping middle class families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, employing youth and promoting community service.


For a full list of funded projects nationwide, go to the Department’s Recovery Web Site at For a list of Service projects, click on the Service’s logo at the bottom of the page.  Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site, which will include an interactive map that enables the public to track where and how the Department’s recovery dollars are being spent.  In addition, the public can submit questions, comments or concerns at


Secretary Salazar also has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General to ensure the Recovery Program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility and transparency that President Obama has set.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit