Place:  Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

Location:  Albuquerque, New Mexico  

Person interviewed:  Aryn LaBrake, Executive Director, Friends of Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

Land and Water Conservation Fund

How this site benefits you and your community: Thanks to community engagement, cooperative efforts, and funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and others, the establishment of the 570-acre Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge was completed in 2014. Valle de Oro serves as the Southwest’s first Urban national wildlife refuge. This incredible space along the Rio Grande now serves to restore and preserve the biodiversity of the area and creating a green open space for city dwellers. The property previously was home to a dairy operation.

“The creation of this site really was community driven so establishing it really impacted the community,” said LaBrake. “People were able to advocate for this property to become a green space and then see their own vision emerge.”

Because the land came with senior water rights, the $18 million price tag was prohibitive for any one organization to pay. But the nearly $6 million contribution of LWCF funding, matched with other public land private dollars, helped make the price affordable and the vision a reality.

LaBrake spends time throughout the Four Corners region and in parks in Arizona that have been neglected and are in need of attention. With those losses in mind, the Valle de Oro stands as an opportunity to learn about community-engaged conservation and establishing something impactful for the benefit of local communities.

“Valle de Oro a model for the rest of the country on how to match community goals with community needs, which is so important,” said LaBrake.

Land and Water Conservation Fund