Friends of Wertheim

National Wildlife Refuge



The Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge (FOW) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the enduring protection, management and appreciation of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and its environs. 


Holiday Closings


Bridges to Birding

Karen Leggett

Writer/Editor - Visitor Services & Communications

National Wildlife Refuge System


With the help of two grants, one library, the daughter of a local artist and numerous volunteers, the Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge built bridges to birding on Long Island in

New York.  

Find out how they did it here


Reaching Into Cities Will Help Kids, Wildlife

By Dan Ashe - Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of 10 refuges of which Wertheim NWR is the Headquarters. Many of the Long Island Refuges are considered Urban Refuges, which is why we feel it is important to share this article with you our members.


I was at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in September. I know for most, New Jersey isn’t the first state that comes to mind when wilderness is discussed.  But Great Swamp, 26 miles as the crow flies from Times Square, was the first Department of the Interior designated wilderness. Today, you can hike eight miles of trails across 3,660 acres of wilderness and experience nature in solitude.


Places like Great Swamp Refuge are more than just escapes from the modern world. From John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum near Philadelphia to Bayou Sauvage Refuge in New Orleans, urban refuges are a key part of our conservation strategy: working with partners to engage urban populations in building an inclusive conservation movement.


More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban environments – a shift that has profound implications for the health and well-being of millions of people, especially youth. We’re learning that kids who spend more time in nature are physically healthier, cognitively more advanced and suffer fewer emotional problems.  Today’s children soon will be our nation’s elected officials, business leaders, parents, activists and public servants. What happens when a generation disconnected from the outdoors is in charge of taking care of nature? We must bridge the growing divide between young people and nature.


We can do that by helping kids make personal connections to the outdoors, especially through nature-based recreation and education and, yes, through better use of technology and social media. Childhood memories and experiences shape the values and priorities we apply as citizens and leaders.  We’re looking to use our Urban Wildlife Refuge Program to engage new audiences in metropolitan areas across the country. And we must use technology to keep them engaged.


We are building our newest urban refuge – Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, NM – from the ground up. In August, Secretary Jewell announced the acquisition of the remaining acreage needed to complete the 570-acre refuge, which gives us an unparalleled opportunity to help families engage nature firsthand.


In urban areas where we don’t have a land base, we’ve created 14 Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships to bring us together with community leaders, educators and conservationists. We are working to change how people perceive the outdoors by helping them connect with nature in a fun and culturally relevant way.  By building community support and rethinking where and how we reach families and youth, we can enrich and transform lives. We can nurture the next generation of citizen-conservationists.

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