NFWF Announces More Than $81,000 in Grants to National Wildlife Refuge Friends Organizations

11 Grants Made Possible with Funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Enbridge

August 07, 2015, Washington, D.C. – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has announced more than $81,000 in grants to 11 National Wildlife Refuge Friends (Friends) organizations. The grants will support an array of on-the-ground projects within the National Wildlife Refuge System, ranging from pollinator gardens to boardwalks, and increase the capacity and effectiveness of Friends organizations. 

Administered through NFWF, the grants were awarded through the National Wildlife Refuge Friends Grant Program, a collaborative effort between NFWF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the National Audubon Society, and Enbridge. The program provides competitive grants that enable Friends organizations to develop and implement conservation projects, strengthen organizational capacity and skills, meet local refuge challenges, and build community recognition and support.

“National Wildlife Refuge Friends organizations are an important element of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants announced will support the efforts of these organizations to build capacity and develop conservation projects throughout the Refuge System.”

Friends organizations are an important component to the collective mission of the Refuge System. They support National Wildlife Refuges with more than 36,000 volunteers a year. Since 1998, the National Wildlife Refuge Friends Grant Program has provided more than 440 awards totaling more than $1.8 million in federal and newly added private funds to support Friends organizations throughout the entire Refuge System.

This year, the Friends program welcomed Enbridge as the program’s first private partner. Enbridge contributed an additional $100,000 for the 2015 spring and fall grant cycles to be used for new organization start-ups and on-the-ground projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Texas.

“Enbridge is proud to partner with National Wildlife Refuge Friends to further our conservation and environmental initiatives in specific communities throughout the U.S.,” said Brad Shamla, vice president of U.S. Operations at Enbridge. “Natural resources and green spaces are precious to every community, and we recognize the way we help steward these is important to everyone.”

The Spring 2015 grantees include:

  • Friends of Rice Lake Refuge, Inc. in Minnesota will install three project components: a nature discovery area for children, an interpretive pollinator garden, and a photo blind. This project will provide families with opportunities to connect with nature and enhance learning in an outdoor setting.
  • Friends of the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama will restore native habitat at two locations on the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers will plant shade trees, shrubs and wildflowers to compliment the longleaf pine restoration on the interior of the park.
  • Friends of Outer Island, Inc. in Connecticut will manage WAVE, a diverse series of events, and publish an instructional guide for future use. Events will include an art day, a natural history day, an urban refuge initiative, a research day, and yoga at the refuge.
  • Friends of Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota will construct a wetlands education dock at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge consisting of a floating dock, gangway and trail. The project will provide wetland access for education, wildlife observation, and sample collection and study.
  • Friends of Noxubee Refuge in Mississippi will install a “rookery cam” over Bluff Lake and a waterfowl rookery. The camera will allow viewers to see numerous species and will serve as a tool for increasing education, research, partnerships and membership recruitment at the Refuge.
  • Upper Mississippi River Interpretive Association in Wisconsin is in the process of changing into a new Friends group. This project will allow the Friends group to lay the foundation for their organization's future of creating opportunities, increasing capacity and developing partnerships.
  • Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center, Inc. in Kansas will develop a Media Relations and Special Event Management Plan to increase visitation to the Great Plains Nature Center. The project will increase the urban audience's awareness of the Refuge System's mission as well as conservation and education.
  • Friends of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas will plant a small pollinator garden, designed to attract monarch butterflies and other native pollinators. A large interpretive sign will be installed to educate the public on the importance of pollinators and the relationship between native plants and pollinators.
  • Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas will implement a Media Blitz designed to inform the community about the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge to increase interest in the Refuge, inform the community of volunteer opportunities, and increase the capacity of the Friends organization.
  • Friends of the 500th in West Virginia will construct a boardwalk to protect the endangered Cheat Mountain salamander by allowing them to safely pass under the boardwalk. The boardwalk also will be used for educational and outreach activities, as well as for monitoring the boardwalk for Cheat Mountain salamander activity.
  • Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin will enhance visitor experiences for children and families with the installation of innovative exploration areas along a new visitor center trail. This project will provide children with hands-on experiences and help them develop an awareness and passion for the natural world.
  • Friends of Trempealeau Refuge, Inc. in Wisconsin will construct a natural playscape to extend and compliment the outdoor learning experience. Project will increase imagination and learning by stimulating curiosity, creativity, and discovery of visitors to the Refuge.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife and habitats. Working with federal agencies, corporations, foundations and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at