Founded in 1993, the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (the Friends) is a community-based nonprofit organization. Unlike most refuges, Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge was established due to the vision and hard work of a group of local citizens who saw the value of having a National Wildlife Refuge in the midst of a rapidly growing urban area. These founders worked with local political leaders to gain approval for and the establishment of the Refuge.
The founding members of Friends of the Refuge were: Drs. Geoffrey E. Beasley & James H. Samson, Sherwood citizens; Lavern M. & Kathy Cary, Sherwood citizens; Walter Hitchock, Sherwood Mayor; Rick A. Hohnbaum, former Sherwood Mayor; Spencer M. Krueger & Mary C. Lefevre, Sherwood citizens; Clyde List, Former Sherwood Mayor; John McGinity, science teacher; Norma J. Oyler, former Sherwood Mayor; Mike Leichner, owner, Pride Disposal Company; James H. Rapp, Sherwood City Manager; and Marjorie J. Stewart, former Sherwood Mayor.
Since its inception, highlights of the Friends’ accomplishments include:
- Successfully advocating for and supporting land conservation planning resulting in an approved Refuge boundary of 7,370 acres of the Refuge’s two units, Sherwood and Wapato Lake.
- Successfully advocating for federal funding for land acquisition within the Refuge acquisition boundary.
- Successfully advocating for federal funding for construction of a Visitor Center and other public use facilities now totaling a $10 million investment.
- Developing robust educational and restoration programs run by a small staff of Friends-funded educators and highly-committed volunteers.
- Developing a retail outlet, Nature’s Overlook, in the Visitor Center that not only brings in significant earned income which is invested toward the Friends’ mission in support of the Refuge but also offers for sale items that further the message of the refuge and the Friends. Nature's Overlook is operated entirely by Friends Members and all profits from this store benefit Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
- Becoming a highly respected and recognized nonprofit organization led by “professional” volunteers. As a result, community leaders are proud to have the Friends working within their community and are committed to work together to help the Friends achieve mutual goals.
- Building an active, committed and growing membership.
- Providing funds to hire key public use staff for the Refuge as well as contributing funds to conduct numerous restoration, maintenance, and education projects on the Refuge.
- Successfully advocating on behalf of the Refuge and the habitat of Washington County by participating as the plaintiff in the Grabhorn Landfill lawsuit and as a supporter of the Poole Quarry lawsuit.
- Naturalist training to prepare volunteers to lead Environmental Education programs.
- Engaging volunteers in years of work on habitat restoration.
Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is a 501(C)(3) tax exempt organization