About Us

Before we tell you about the refuge, we would like to start with a few acknowledgements. Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge humbly acknowledges that it occupies over 570 acres of ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Tiwa People. The Tiwa people have stewarded these lands for generations and, in the case of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, continue to play a vital role in its protection, restoration, and prosperity.   

Additionally, we acknowledge that this refuge is built from the grassroots community movements led by the passionate people of Mountain View. We give gratitude to our community who continues to engage in diverse ways to bring our collective vision of a safe place for wildlife and people to reality.  

What is Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge? 

Tucked behind the outskirts of Albuquerque’s rapidly industrialized South Valley, our community and partners are working collaboratively to turn 570 acres of former farmland into our shared vision for the Southwest’s first urban wildlife refuge.  

See how we’re building the refuge from the ground up in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOyBZK8WSZE

As one of the youngest and most ambitious national wildlife refuges, we are just getting started on our empowering journey to re-wild cities and connect urban residents to wildlife conservation. Over the coming years and decades, we will continue to transform this refuge by creating new habitats, expanding our trail network, and providing new opportunities for education and engagement. 

Through community, restoration, and environmental justice, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge strives to grow a safe place for both people and wildlife – not just on the refuge, but in South Valley’s communities too.  

We invite you to join us as we work on one of the most ambitious urban conservation projects in the nation.

Our Mission

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Our Purpose

Every national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded. 

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge is the first refuge in the country built from the ground up under the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program’s Standard of Excellence for Urban National Wildlife Refuges. These eight standards are the foundation of our work here:  

  • Know and Relate to the Community  
  • Deepen Connections with Nature via Stepping Stones of Engagement  
  • Build Partnerships 
  • Be a Community Asset  
  • Ensure Adequate Long-Term Resources  
  • Provide Equitable Access  
  • Ensure Visitors Feel Safe and Welcome  
  • Model Sustainability  

Our Vision

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge uses an innovative and collaborative approach to connect people with wildlife, plants and the land by providing equitable and just ways to deepen personal relationships with nature. The refuge balances healthy natural habitat management with opportunities for education, visitor engagement, youth employment, community involvement and stewardship. 

Our Values

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge staff, interns and volunteers are committed to the following values as fundamental and foundational principles of the refuge. These values guide how we work and interact with one another, our partners and our greater community.

Intentional and Adaptable

Consciously working toward a shared vision and goals and continuously reflecting and sharing successes, mistakes and lessons learned.      

Innovative and Continually Learning

Taking risks to broaden the breadth and depth of work accomplished in the field of conservation to include: community engagement, art, culture, technology, social and environmental justice. Committing to continuously learn from each other, community members, partners and stakeholders to keep approaches fresh and relevant.     

Respectful and Kind

Honoring the knowledge of our mission, staff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stakeholders, community and surrounding cultures. Refuge staff are approachable, respectful and kind, and actively listen to the needs and concerns of others (colleagues, volunteers, partners, and community members) and respond appropriately in thoughtful ways.   


Building and maintaining trust in the community, working to be transparent, realistic and patient with staff, partners and community members as the refuge grows and changes.  

Accessible and Just

Providing equitable and inclusive opportunities and meaningful connection to nature for people of diverse backgrounds, economic standings, abilities, and ages.  


Intentionally and collaboratively working with colleagues, partners, volunteers and community members to make decisions and take action. We believe that our combined effect is greater when we work together and have many voices at the table. 

Our History

Our History  

When Price’s ‘Valley Gold’ Dairy Farm was put up for sale, the patch of fields hidden behind miles of industrial development was more than just another property. It was one of the last remaining green spaces in a historic valley where generations have fought to preserve their right to clean air and water.  

Determined to protect this land, the community rallied together and raised over $9 million through grassroots movements. They formed Friends of Valle de Oro, a nonprofit organization that partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to purchase the land as part of the agency’s Urban Wildlife Refuge program. Together, they preserved the space as part of an empowering program to re-wild cities and connect urban residents to wildlife conservation. 

On August 8, 2012, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge was dedicated as the first urban wildlife refuge in the Southwest. Starting with one staff member, the refuge gradually grew as more community members, partners, and allies joined our efforts. Today, equipped with a dedicated team, a youth conservation employment center, and a comprehensive set of detailed plans developed with community input, we are actively growing our programs and undergoing transformation. 

September 27, 2012

Establishment of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge  

August 8, 2014

Completion of land acquisition  


Completion of first Environmental and Economic Justice Strategic Plan  

August 2017

Completion of the environmental assessment and compatibility determinations  


Grand opening of Valle de Oro NWR visitor center. Date to be determined.