Valle de Oro Refuge Receives $1 Million Annually to Expand Community Engagement

Providing outdoor experiences for residents
The refuge is partnering with the neighboring Mountain View community to develop the refuge and provide outdoor experiences for residents.
Photo Credit: Ian Shive
March 22, 2016 - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and U.S. Senator for New Mexico Martin Heinrich announced that Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge will receive $1 million in additional annual funding to engage urban communities and youth in conservation and outdoor recreation. 

Valle de Oro Refuge is only five miles from downtown Albuquerque and has been working extensively with partners and community members to connect the refuge with families and youth.

"Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge has the potential to become an essential ecological, educational and recreational resource for families and kids in the Albuquerque area and across the region. Our goal is to accelerate this process by giving the refuge's outstanding staff additional resources to build and strengthen relationships with community partners and residents," said Service Director Dan Ashe.

The Service created the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program to support new opportunities for people in urban areas to learn about and take part in wildlife habitat conservation.  

“There is so much opportunity at Valle de Oro to help New Mexico kids discover the incredible natural heritage of our state right in their backyard, while supporting vital river and habitat conservation,” said Senator Martin Heinrich. “I am proud to stand with the community in Albuquerque’s South Valley and secure resources to turn this 570-acre oasis into a place filled with educational and recreational opportunities.” 

Valle de Oro refuge working hard to be an asset to the community
Valle de Oro Refuge, a former dairy farm that is also near the site of chemical storage and sewage facilities, is working hard to be an asset to the community.
Photo Credit: Marisa Rodriguez-McGill/2013 Photo Contest Grand Prize Winner

The refuge was established in 2012 and is already engaging the local community through conservation, environmental education, special events, environmental justice projects and partnerships embracing the importance of this cultural landscape to both people and wildlife. 

“Valle de Oro Refuge is bringing a sense of pride into our neighborhood. We have a great community here that has sometimes been overlooked because of all the industry surrounding us,” stated Sara Carrillo, principal at Mountain View Elementary School near the refuge. “We have very few opportunities for safe play and exploration outside.  Mountain View used to be a farming community, and Valle de Oro is helping us get reconnected with the land and our heritage.  It is giving our families a safe place to connect with nature, spend time together, be healthy, and reconnect with our history.”

More about current projects among refuge, Friends of Valle de Oro and the Mountain View neighborhood here.