ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham stood with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to announce that a diverse group of federal, state, and local partners and conservation groups have acquired the lands needed to complete the 570-acre Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, the Southwest’s first urban national wildlife refuge.
The refuge was made possible thanks to the federal Land and Water Conservation fund -- which helps purchase land for recreation and conservation at the local, state and federal level -- Bernalillo County, and numerous other local, state and federal partners and private organizations.
"Today is a shining example of what can be accomplished when partners share a vision and goal," Udall said. "Valle de Oro is a 570-acre urban oasis, and its creation will boost jobs and inspire generations to come. I'm thrilled to celebrate this special day for wildlife and watershed protection and for our ability to work together as a community."
“Making the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge a reality has truly been a community effort and is representative of New Mexico's tremendous role in preserving America's outdoor heritage," Heinrich said. "Our state is now home to the Southwest’s first urban national wildlife refuge--enriching not only the lives of our children and all who visit, but also strengthening the local economy. I commend Secretary Jewell for her unwavering support for full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which makes projects like the Valle de Oro possible."
“I’m very proud that the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge has been completed and will provide many long lasting benefits to our community,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “This project couldn’t have been accomplished without the partnership between local, state and federal partners. By working together, we were able to make this dream of an urban refuge a reality. The Valle de Oro Refuge will provide educational and recreational opportunities for students and families and I’m proud to join with my colleagues here today to celebrate it.”
Originally approved in September 2012, the Valle de Oro refuge will provide educational and recreational opportunities and conserve land and water quality for the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund contributed nearly $5.9 million of the $17 million total cost of the refuge, and Bernalillo County contributed $5 million. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, State of New Mexico, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Trust for Public Land, New Mexico Community Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Ducks Unlimited were partners in the effort.
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.