About Us

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge humbly acknowledges that it occupies over 570 acres of ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Tiwa People. The Tiwa people have stewarded these lands for generations and, in the case of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, continue to play a vital role in its protection, restoration, and prosperity.  

Additionally, we acknowledge that this refuge is built from the grassroots community movements led by the passionate people of Mountain View. We give gratitude to our community who continues to engage in diverse ways to bring our collective vision of a safe place for wildlife and people to reality.  

On a former dairy farm just a few miles south of New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area, the refuge works to create a conservation stewardship legacy by working with community partners to establish a 21st century conservation ethic and reconnect people, especially young people, to the natural world. The new refuge was established due to the partnership efforts of many in the community that recognized the importance of having a wildlife refuge in this urban setting. 

Valle de Oro offers a unique environmental education and recreation opportunity in a highly populated area while promoting a wildlife conservation message. It is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters managed for the benefit of wildlife, habitat and you.  

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge is a designated Urban National Wildlife Refuge. Valle de Oro was a former dairy farm and is still currently in agricultural fields on a majority of the property. Long-term Refuge plans are to make the refuge into a mosaic of native Middle Rio Grande Valley habitats and an oasis to both wildlife and people. At this refuge, staff, partners, and the community are collaboratively building a refuge from scratch, keeping in mind wildlife, people, environmental justice, and more.  

Our Mission

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. 

Our Purpose

Every national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded. 

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge is the first refuge in the country built from the ground up under the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program’s Standard of Excellence for Urban National Wildlife Refuges. These eight standards are the foundation of our work here:  

  • Know and Relate to the Community  

  • Deepen Connections with Nature via Stepping Stones of Engagement  

  • Build Partnerships 

  • Be a Community Asset  

  • Ensure Adequate Long-Term Resources  

  • Provide Equitable Access  

  • Ensure Visitors Feel Safe and Welcome  

  • Model Sustainability  

Our Vision

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge uses an innovative and collaborative approach to connect people with wildlife, plants and the land by providing equitable and just ways to deepen personal relationships with nature. The refuge balances healthy natural habitat management with opportunities for education, visitor engagement, youth employment, community involvement and stewardship. 

Our Values

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge staff, interns and volunteers are committed to the following values as fundamental and foundational principles of the refuge. These values guide how we work and interact with one another, our partners and our greater community.

Intentional and Adaptable

Consciously working toward a shared vision and goals and continuously reflecting and sharing successes, mistakes and lessons learned.      

Innovative and Continually Learning

Taking risks to broaden the breadth and depth of work accomplished in the field of conservation to include: community engagement, art, culture, technology, social and environmental justice. Committing to continuously learn from each other, community members, partners and stakeholders to keep approaches fresh and relevant.     

Respectful and Kind

Honoring the knowledge of our mission, staff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stakeholders, community and surrounding cultures. Refuge staff are approachable, respectful and kind, and actively listen to the needs and concerns of others (colleagues, volunteers, partners, and community members) and respond appropriately in thoughtful ways.   


Building and maintaining trust in the community, working to be transparent, realistic and patient with staff, partners and community members as the refuge grows and changes.  

Accessible and Just

Providing equitable and inclusive opportunities and meaningful connection to nature for people of diverse backgrounds, economic standings, abilities, and ages.  


Intentionally and collaboratively working with colleagues, partners, volunteers and community members to make decisions and take action. We believe that our combined effect is greater when we work together and have many voices at the table. 

Our History

September 27, 2012

Establishment of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge  

August 8, 2014

Completion of land acquisition  


Completion of first Environmental and Economic Justice Strategic Plan  

August 2017

Completion of the environmental assessment and compatibility determinations  


Grand opening of Valle de Oro NWR visitor center. Date to be determined.