Friends of Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge

What's happening at the Refuge?

The Refuge and the Friends are always busy, managing wildlife and introducing the public to the wildlife and nature. The blog "What's happening at the refuge" will keep you up to date with what's going on.
  • 07 Feb 2014 4:03 PM | Anonymous
    The Rotary Club of Las Vegas donated $1000 toward signage for the newly extended Gallinas Canyon Trail leading from the new parking area, across short grass prairie, and down into the Canyon. Friends President Ted Winston attended a Rotary meeting and described current activities and the new trail and accepted the generous check. We thank the Rotarians for their support!
  • 07 Feb 2014 3:43 PM | Anonymous

    Patty Hoban, Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) Manager from 2003 to 2008, passed away on December 20, 2013.


    Patty was an important part of the early life of the Friends of LVNWR.

    She had developed a relationship with Randall Davey Audubon in Santa Fe, enlisting with their help, Educator Eileen Everett, to teach the "Through the Eyes of the Bird" program for local elementary school classes at Maxwell NWR.


    Kristin Byrd Kuyuk, LVNWR Outdoor Recreation Planner from 2002-2005, took members of the Friends to observe the school program at Maxwell. This visit inspired and motivated us with guidance from Kristin to apply for our own grant, partner with NM Audubon for grant support and start a similar elementary school program at LVNWR with Eileen Everett as educator from 2005 through spring of 2012.  


    Kuyuk writes, "I would always look forward to my visits to Maxwell NWR.  Not only did it mean a nice drive where I might get to see some great wildlife - but also it meant a nice visit with my friend, then refuge manager, Patty Hoban.  Patty was a quiet type, much like myself, but her love for the land and wildlife - particularly the birds -energized her. She was a wealth of knowledge, which she willingly shared. At the time, visitation at Maxwell was minimal, yet she created a special place for children and adults alike to get up close and personal with wildlife.... skulls, scat, and pelts... magnifying glasses, binoculars and spotting scopes.... coloring pages and posters... all available in a small room with expansive views.  On my first visit, she walked me across the street to show me the observation area, and then took me for a drive along the earthen dam to look at waterfowl -- as we would come to do every time that I visited in the years to follow."


    To the Friends, Patty was a respected "jack-of-all-trades". With a small staff during a time of plentiful rainfall, she did field work, irrigation and maintenance on top of administrative tasks, biological surveys and educational programs. We remember Patty for her bird feeders at Maxwell Refuge, her talks at LVNWR, and her gift of wildlife photography. She gifted us with a file of her photos; some of them were used in the design of our Friend's merchandise.


    Photo: Friends of Las Vegas NWR visits with Patty at Maxwell NWR in May of 2008

    L to R: Seated: Sonya Berg, Lou Myers, Sarah Reiss, Emily Olson

    Standing: Jan Arrott, Patty Hoban, Jo Rita Jordan, Steve Reichert, Glenn Yokum, Linda Kelly




  • 16 Jan 2014 10:35 AM | Anonymous
    There are two excellent opportunities to volunteer and to see the two additions to the northeastern New Mexico NWR system. One, working with United World College Students, is a restoration effort at the Rio Mora NWR. Another is to assist in a visit by Santa Fe patrons of the arts interested in preserving murals at the Pritzlaff Ranch in the Sapello River valley. Check the Calendar listings for January 18 and 20 or contact Joe Zebrowski for more information.
  • 21 Nov 2013 1:48 PM | Anonymous
    Because of government budget cuts, we will replace our usual schedule of Sunday lectures during the winter and spring with a Friday evening event on March 7, at the visitor center. It will feature two popular speaker, Erv Nichols and Sandra Noll, talking on Outstanding Photos using Simple Equipment and Why Wilderness? Friends members will provide a posole supper afterwards.

    Erv is a professional photographer with experience spanning techniques from the dark room development era to the current digital age. Erv will point out his current tricks of the trade in using simple devices such as smart phones and iPads.


    Sandra,prompted by the fact that 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, developed an interactive exploration of wilderness and its significance, considering questions such as - is wilderness important even if one never steps foot into it; if so, why?

  • 17 Oct 2013 8:26 AM | Anonymous
    The government shutdown is over, for now; however, please be patient and respectful as the Refuge staff returns to duty and brings operations back on line.
  • 27 Jun 2013 12:15 PM | Anonymous
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2013

    Contact: Desiree Sorenson-Groves, 202-290-5593 or

    Soldiers, Cowboys, and Pilots: Report Finds that National Wildlife Refuges Deliver Surprising Benefits to People

    Coalition Warns that Slashing Funds Will Be Rude Awakening for Americans

    Washington, DC – As Congress wrestles with next year’s budget, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) warns that proposed funding cuts to the nation’s federal conservation lands will have big impacts for more than just wildlife. While the National Wildlife Refuge System is charged with conserving wildlife and providing recreational opportunities to the public, a report released by CARE today describes some of the unlikely benefits that the nation’s 561 wildlife refuges add to the health, safety, and economic well-being of the American people. The broad coalition is urging Congress to provide the Refuge System with sufficient funds to allow these benefits to continue.  

    Among the most surprising benefits described in America’s Wildlife Refuges 2013:

    Delivering the Unexpected:

    Eighty percent of the nation’s 561 wildlife refuges provide natural buffers against urbanization and other development pressures, thereby preserving undeveloped lands and airspace that enable military units to execute their vital training missions.

    Conservation easements on nearly 3.5 million acres of refuge lands allow many private landowners to keep their ranches and farms in production.

    Henderson Airfield on the remote Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, one of only a handful of emergency landing sites available for transpacific flights, has been estimated to save commercial airlines at least $28 million annually and, in 2012 alone, was used by nearly 50 private and military flights for emergency or refueling purposes.

    Wildlife refuges generate more than $32.3 billion each year in natural goods and services, such as buffering coastal communities from storm surges, filtering pollutants from municipal water supplies, and pollinating food crops.

    Refuge employees often double as first responders to natural disasters and other emergencies in their local communities.

    The more than 47 million hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, and other recreationists who visit wildlife refuges generate between $2.1 and $4.2 billion in sales to local communities each year.

    According to the report, the National Wildlife Refuge System needs at least $900 million annually to carry out its conservation mission, but at its highest funding level in FY 2010, it received only $503 million. Since then, Congress has not only failed to provide the $8 million annual increase needed to cover rising costs, but has steadily cut the Refuge System’s budget. With Congress poised to slash federal spending, the System could see its funding drop to $389 million in FY 2014 – a 23% cut from FY 2010 that would leave an average of only $2.59 to manage each of its 150 million acres.

    “The National Wildlife Refuge System continues to remind us that conserving nature is essential to our own well-being,” said David Houghton, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and chair of the CARE coalition. “If we ignore those reminders and fail to invest in our national wildlife refuges, everyone loses.”

    The report calls on Congress to provide at least $499 million for the System’s operations and maintenance accounts to prevent wildlife refuges from reaching a tipping point that would not only eliminate many of the benefits they provide to the public, but also prevent them from carrying out even the most basic functions central to their conservation mission. CARE is also urging lawmakers to pass legislation authorizing the U.S. Postal Service to issue a special “semipostal” stamp, which would offer the public a voluntary way to support national wildlife refuges. Offered at a slightly higher rate than first-class stamps, proceeds from the semipostal stamp would be used to complete refuge projects that have been backlogged due to chronic funding shortfalls.

    For CARE’s full report and additional information, please visit

    Quotes from CARE’s member organizations are available at

    The Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) is a national coalition of 22 wildlife, sporting, conservation, and scientific organizations representing a constituency numbering more than 16 million Americans. CARE has been working since 1995 to educate Congress, the Administration, and the public about America’s magnificent National Wildlife Refuge.

    # # #

  • 10 Apr 2013 10:15 PM | Anonymous
    The changes in the Federal budget have caused rearrangements in the Refuge schedule of Sunday talks; there are no more weekend events, so talks have been rescheduled:

         Leann Wilkins will talk about wildlife displacement in Kenya on Tuesday, April 16, at 5:30 PM at the Refuge.

         The Mora Fish hatchery talk has been canceled.

         The wild flower talk and Gallinas Canyon hike will be held on Friday, May 10, at 5:30 PM, followed by a late afternoon hike in the golden light starting at 5:30 PM.

    You can always check the Calendar of Events for possible changes in date and time.

  • 07 Feb 2013 10:52 AM | Anonymous
    Where do birds go and when? Birdwatchers all over the country help answer those questions through participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). They spend a few minutes or all day looking for birds in their backyards or a favorite birding spot. They count numbers of birds and species and submit them to  the GBBC web site. The more people who participate, the better the picture of bird locations will be.

    Every year, birders around New Mexico participate in the GBBC. They learn more about the birds, their children develop a bond with local nature, and everyone discovers where the birds are. When you see one of those maps in a bird book showing where birds are at different times of the year, you see the results of bird counts like GBBC. Be part of the discovery and enjoy spotting an unusual species in your back yard.

    The GBBC for 2013 starts on February 15 and lasts through February 18. Put Las Vegas NWR on the map!
  • 06 Dec 2012 11:13 AM | Anonymous
    Las Vegas held its annual Electric Light Parade on December 1, and the Friends float won second prize overall. Thanks to creative directors Steve Reichert and Johanna Keenan, who populated the float and the pages of a giant book with wildlife ranging from a kangaroo to a howling coyote to a bookworm. Thanks to Debbie Pike, who was an animated and jolly Blue Goose with a gaggle of goslings. And thanks to the Friends who nailed and strung lights and walked beside the float, handing out wildlife rubber stamps to kids along the route. It was a magical evening.

    Go to the photo album to see construction and the parade.
  • 02 Oct 2012 5:02 PM | Anonymous
    Refuge Manager Rob Larrañaga and a team of Refuge officials from Las Vegas to Washington have been working for more than a year to create a new Wildlife Refuge in Mora County, not far from Fort Union National Historical Park. The former Wind River Ranch was donated by its owners, the Thaw Charitable Trust, who had built the ranch into an important center for environmental research and education. It will continue in that function as a wildlife refuge.

    The Refuge is the 560th to be created since President Teddy Roosevelt declared Pelican Island on the east coast of Florida a bird refuge in 1903.

    The gift includes 4,224 acres of canyon and grasslands along the Mora River, with views extending back to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It is easily one of the loveliest pieces of land in the state. It attracts much wildlife to its shelter, and it harbors a herd of bison managed in cooperation with the Native Americans of New Mexico.

    On September 27, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Southwest Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, along with many other dignitaries, came to the Wind River Ranch to sign the official documents creating the new Refuge. Go to the Photo Album: Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge for photos of the signing event. Go to the Dept. Interior for an official press release, also covering the 559th Refuge, also in New Mexico, the Valle de Oro NWR in Albuquerque.

    A short video on YouTube shows glimpses of the new Refuge and Dr. Tuggle's speech.

    Thanks to Leslie Larraãga for her photo of Secretary Salazar (green shirt and white hat) with Las Vegas and Maxwell NWR employees, staff of the Wind River Ranch, and Friends of Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge (white shirts).

    Secretary Ken Salazar with Refuge employees and Friends (white shirts)

Friends of Las Vegas (New Mexico) National Wildlife Refuge

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