Making Conservation Efforts Go Farther
- 185 Refuge Friends organizations support 280 wildlife refuges and wetland management districts.
- Some 40,000 people belong to refuge Friends groups nationwide.
- An estimated $15 million raised for conservation.
Refuge Friends are dedicated community members who magnify the power of conservation efforts and help national wildlife refuges meet conservation goals that would otherwise be out of reach.
They do this by donating tens of thousands of volunteer hours and raising millions of dollars for local refuges. In the process, Friends help engage the American public in wildlife conservation, improve access to outdoor recreation and strengthen relationships between refuges and neighboring communities.
At many wildlife refuges across the country, Friends members
- lead tours
- staff refuge visitor centers
- organize bird festivals
- sponsor photo contests
- operate nature shops
- drive habitat restoration and trail maintenance projects
Sources of Pride
Some highly visible Friends groups achievements include:
Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Michigan/Ontario
The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance, the refuge’s Friends organization, helped raise $3.5 million to build a 740-foot-long fishing pier and boat dock for the Michigan Sea Grant School. The pier is free to the public and can accommodate up to 100 anglers.
Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex, Georgia/South Carolina
With the help of a generous grant from a local foundation, the Friends of Savannah Coastal Wildlife Refuges purchased a 15-seat electric shuttle to increase accessibility to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. The shuttle expands the refuge’s interpretive programming and provides access to the elderly, very young and mobility-impaired.
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
The Friends of the Bosque del Apache Refuge sponsor the celebrated Festival of the Cranes, which draws thousands of visitors a year to the city of Socorro.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington
The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge oversaw the building of the refuge’s much-visited Cathlapotle Plankhouse, based on archaeological evidence of the Chinookan settlement. The Friends manage Plankhouse programming.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
With a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, the Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge helped fund construction of an environmental education building on the refuge.
Since its completion in 2007, the building has served more than 8,000 Dorchester County Public School fourth and sixth-grade students studying science through interactive, hands-on activities such as marsh walks, tree plants and geolocation work. The Friends provide supplies and bus transportation.