Public Lands Transportation Fellows Projects 2019-2020

Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge – Naomi Fireman, July 2019-June 2020

This transportation Fellow position will have the incumbent stationed at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex in Woodbridge, Virginia. The complex, established in 1998, includes the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck NWR, the Occoquan Bay NWR, and the Featherstone NWR. The majority of the work for this position will directly pertain to the Occoquan Bay NWR, however, there are opportunities to enhance transportation opportunities and tie in to the other two complex refuges.

Occoquan Bay NWR is a 642-acre refuge, twenty miles south of Washington D.C. This unit is a mix of grasslands, shrublands, wetlands, and wooded areas. This habitat is home to migrating songbirds, raptors and waterfowl.  Occoquan Bay has 4 miles of gravel roads for foot traffic, a 2-mile wildlife loop, an audio tour, two outdoor pavilions, a 2.7-acre pond with a dock and ramp, and a floating boardwalk in a freshwater marsh. In spring 2019, construction is expected to begin on a visitor center.

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

This transportation Fellow position will have the incumbent stationed at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Valle de Oro NWR was established in 2012 and is the Southwest’s first urban wildlife refuge.

Valle de Oro NWR is a 570-acre refuge, a few miles south of Albuquerque. This unit is a former dairy farm along the east bank of the Rio Grande River. It is being “built from the ground up through a grassroots community effort.” Due to this, it is currently transitioning from farm land to wetlands, bosque, grasslands and upland habitats. Valle de Oro has educational apps, self-guided tours, and hiking/walking trails.

Over the past seven years, along with the habitat restoration, Valle de Oro has also done a significant amount of transportation planning and implementation. A Fellow was previously stationed here from 2013-2015 (https://westerntransportationinstitute.org/professional-development/public-lands-transportation-fellows/federal-lands-fellows-projects-20132015/). Corridor improvements on Second Street SW, funded through Federal Land Access Program (FLAP) funding, were also just completed.