Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
About Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge was established 30 years ago to protect and manage a 28,000-acre area of the Texas Hill Country, spanning across Burnet, Travis, and Williamson counties. Known for its diverse plants and wildlife, this refuge aims to support wildlife and habitat conservation while broadening public awareness, education, and advocacy. Projects at Balcones Canyonlands are centered around benefiting both wildlife and people through land management and conservation efforts, implementing conservation easement programs with local landowners, and implementing stewardship through a variety of education programs. The refuge is considered federal land and is managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Project Description and History
Over the years, the organization has evolved in many ways but remains committed to continuing the legacy of habitat and wildlife conservation for the benefit of all. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge was initially established to protect the nesting grounds for two endangered songbirds: the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. The vireo has since been delisted as an endangered species, but the warbler remains endangered, and nests only in Central Texas.
The primary mission of FBC is to support wildlife and habitat restoration and conservation at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. In cooperation with the refuge, FBC helps to broaden public awareness, education, and advocacy. Friends of Balcones Canyonlands is committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way. FBC accomplishes this by providing volunteer opportunities, outdoor recreational opportunities, educational opportunities, and hosting and participating in annual events and festivals – both locally and nationwide. All funds raised go directly to supporting the refuge in a variety of ways, including assistance with land acquisition and infrastructure enhancements. The refuge includes more than 10 miles of hiking trails, which are free and open to the public.
Access to the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is free and open to the public 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. The landscape is critical for the health of wildlife, and native habitat and is located within the primary watershed for Central Texas. In addition, FBC volunteers work all year long to help maintain the trail system and pollinator gardens and lead guided hikes throughout the refuge to educate the public about the impact and value of the green space.
The existence of the refuge is very beneficial to the community, as it serves as a place for urban dwellers to get outside and connect with nature, and serves as a hub for ecotourism. FBC hosts 2-4 festivals each year, which draw visitors from across the country. In April of 2024, the refuge will be a prime location to view the coming Solar Eclipse.