National Wildlife Refuge System

First Urban Refuge in Southwest Officially Complete


August 11, 2014 - Standing with members of the New Mexico congressional delegation, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that a diverse group of federal, state and local partners and conservation groups supported by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, have made it possible to acquire the lands needed to complete the 570-acre Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, the Southwest’s first urban national wildlife refuge.

“This new urban refuge is a wonderful example of how Land and Water Conservation Funds can be used to leverage strong community partnerships and serve as a foundation for on-the-ground conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country,” said Jewell.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to conserve our land, water and wildlife heritage for the benefit of all Americans. The primary source of revenue for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.  

Sunrise at Valle de Oro Refuge: the refuge is located five miles from downtown Albuquerque on the Rio Grande River.
Credit: USFWS
Without using taxpayer dollars, the Land and Water Conservation Fund enables state and local governments to establish everything from baseball fields to community green spaces; to provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; to expand the interpretation of historic and cultural sites; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

Jewell called on Congress to fully and permanently fund this landmark program, something that has happened only once in its history, as a portion of the revenue intended for it has been used for other purposes. President Obama’s budget request includes a legislative proposal to establish dedicated mandatory funding for Land and Water Conservation Fund programs, with full funding at $900 million beginning in 2015.  A recent study found that for every $1 invested in federal land acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, there is a return of $4 to state and local communities. 

Cattle egret, grassland species, geese, cranes (in the winter) and various wading birds are expected to thrive at Valle de Oro Refuge.
Credit: Steve Valasek
Valle de Oro Refuge:  30-minute drive for half the people in New Mexico
Valle de Oro is one of eight refuges in New Mexico. Originally approved in September 2012, the refuge will provide educational and recreational opportunities as well as environmental benefits for the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area, which is within a 30-minute drive of half of New Mexico’s population. 

Valle De Oro National Wildlife Refuge – established on land that was a dairy farm for more than half a century - offers spectacular vistas of the Sandia Mountains, Vulcan volcano tubes and the lush Rio Grande Bosque.  Bosque, from the Spanish word for woodlands, refers to the forested ecosystem along the Rio Grande River. This oasis near Albuquerque will begin restoring habitats by expanding the Bosque habitat into the refuge, creating wetlands and allowing for the regrowth of natural grasses and brush.  The refuge and its Friends group have also partnered with nearby Mountain View Community Center to plant a community garden.

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Last updated: August 11, 2014