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Information iconJeannette Guess, president of the Friends of John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, and her fellow Friends members and Philadelphia neighbors celebrate their successes in 2016. (Photo: Greg Thompson/USFWS)

Making Conservation Efforts Go Farther

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

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.

Information iconBetty Siegel, left, and a fellow member of the Friends of Alaska Refuges pose with visitor services manager Kara Zwickey at a Battle of Attu anniversary event at Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo: Lisa Hupp/USFWS)