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Who We Are

Landscape at Doeskin

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge are people just like you. We love nature, love being outdoors, and want to help protect and preserve our wildlife heritage that is the Canyonlands.

Our vision is of a wildlife refuge that is a dynamic habitat with widespread community support, built on a strong sense of stewardship, and empowered by a thriving Friends group which leverages its financial and resource capacity as a force for growth and on-going restoration and conservation

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge partners with the refuge to support, enhance, and share this extraordinary place. We are passionate about this unique habitat and its wildlife, about the people who visit, and about protecting the refuge for future generations. The Friends host special public outreach events, develop and maintain trails, and supporting various habitat restoration activities. The organization also raises funds to expand the refuge, protecting additional land in this fast-growing area. We invite people from our local region and from across the globe to join us as visitors, volunteers, members, and guardians of this endangered and essential ecosystem.

We are working hard to ensure the Friends become a dynamic force for growth in support of the mission of the refuge. We want to help educate and nurture the next generation who will carry forward the legacy of stewardship and conservation in our little slice of the Texas Hill Country.

Future Goals

Already home to hundreds of species of wildlife and migratory birds as well as a premier environmental education field trip destination, Friends will continue to play an active role in helping Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge grow in capacity and capability to include:
    • Visitor center with amenities for the public and for hosting programs
    • Expand resources and facilities for environmental education and community programming
    • Continue habitat restoration and expanding land stewardship projects
    • Develop programs that reflect the nature of an urban wildlife refuge with deep connections to the community and that promote a greater sense of environmental responsibility, nurturing the next generation of conservation champions.
    • Become a dynamic force for growth, both in membership and diversity, and in resource capacity.

We will help educate and nurture the next generation who will carry forward the legacy of stewardship and conservation in our little slice of the Texas Hill Country. And, we want to have fun doing it!

Golden cheeked warbler

Our Mission

Our Mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation at the Balcones Canyonlands NWR, and in cooperation with the Refuge, help broaden public awareness, education, and advocacy. 


We’d love to hear from you. Send any questions or suggestions you might have. Maybe you have a favorite topic or activity you’d like to see at the Refuge. Email us at

Members and volunteers

Our members and volunteers make things happen. They are an essential element in helping the refuge accomplish otherwise unreachable goals. Our members come from all walks of life, primarily from the three counties next to the refuge, and share a love of nature with a common commitment to preserving this unique habitat and its inhabitants. For those who want to take it to the next level, they volunteer and raise funds for specific projects and programs, sharing their interests and love of nature with others. In fact, we suspect that our members and volunteers are a lot like you!

In 2019, pre-COVID, the Friends volunteer hours equated to the Refuge having 7 additional rangers! We also completed the pavilion at Doeskin Ranch. In 2021, the Friends created 2 new nature hiking trails, enhanced the Junior Ranger program, held the 1st virtual SparrowFest, and even started a Hike Leader training program specifically to guide hikes on closed portions of the refuge. More projects are in the works!

You don’t have to be a member to volunteer. In fact, many of our members start by volunteering and fall in love with the refuge and want to become a member. And, many of our members are members first and then find a really fun project and dive into volunteering.

Either way, your contribution will make a difference, enabling us to tackle more, sooner! No matter what your interests or skills, we can find a role for you.

Board of Directors



Dave Bell

Vice President

Russell Zientek


Chloe Crumley


Bini Coleman


Elizabeth Gardner

Alex Ortiz

Nhat Ho

Suzanne Hershey

Staff leadership

Executive Director


Our Partners




About Us

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR is a 501(c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the Refuge in restoring and protecting the habitat. The Friends are committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way.

Become a Member

Join the Friends in protecting the wildlife and habitat, and supporting the mission of the Refuge. Start by taking a hike or  attending an event, by watching the seasons change through what’s blooming, or by just watching a hawk soar, or even just sitting still and listening to the songbirds sing. You can have a positive impact. Come find your refuge at the Refuge and join the fun!

Find Us

Mailing Address:

PO Box 4678

Lago Vista, TX 78645

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