About the Refuge

Neighboring Ranch 512x219

Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge includes 1,166 acres and was established in 1932 for the purpose of providing resting and breeding habitat for migratory birds and other native wildlife. Bamforth NWR is closed to public access with the exception of  hunting during the designated hunting season.


More About the Refuge

Bamforth National Wildlife Refuge, located within a 4000 acre natural depression known as the Big Basin, is one of over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. It is situated 6 miles northwest of Laramie, Wyoming in the Laramie plain; a high elevation, dry grassland surrounded by mountains. The shallow depressions of the basin, within the relatively flat topography of the region, support wetland complexes, including marsh and lakes, that are unique to the semiarid area. This Refuge is comprised of three separate sections arranged in an L-shaped pattern within one-half mile of each other.  It is located in a closed basin hydrologic system that contains Bamforth Lake, although most of the lake falls outside the Refuge boundary.  Due to the fragmented locations of the parcels, the closed basin hydrology, and the Refuge's minimal water rights; this refuge has not ever been aggressively managed.

Part of a Refuge Complex 

Bamforth NWR is part of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location. Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, law enforcement, refuge manager, biological, fire, visitor services, and maintenance professionals, are centrally located and support all refuges within the complex. 

Other refuges in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge Complex include: Arapaho NWR in Walden, Colorado; Mortenson Lake NWR and Hutton Lake NWR in the Laramie Plains of Wyoming; and Pathfinder NWR near Casper, Wyoming. The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at 953 Jackson County Road #32 in Walden, Colorado 80480. 

Refuge History

In the early 1930's, J. Clark Salyer III was charged with identifying areas to protect as national wildlife refuges for migratory birds. Bamforth NWR was one of two locations he chose after surveying the land surrounding Laramie, Wyoming and as a result the Refuge was established by Executive Order 9321 on January 28,1932. Originally, 201 acres were withdrawn from the public domain for the establishment of this Refuge. An additional 965 acres were purchased with Migratory Bird funds in 1933.

During the 1960's, the Headquarters for the Laramie Plains refuges was located in the Wyoming Farm Bureau office in Laramie, Wyoming. Upon the 1967 establishment of the Arapaho NWR in Walden, Colorado; it was moved to there and the Laramie Plains refuges have been managed as part of the Arapaho NWR Complex.