Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
|Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge|
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Mule deer in Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge; downtown Denver is visible in the background.
|Location||Adams County, Colorado, USA|
|Nearest city||Commerce City|
|Area||12,500 acres (5,100 ha)|
|Governing body||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service|
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge located adjacent to Commerce City, Colorado, approximately 8 miles (13 km) northeast of downtown Denver. The facility is on the grounds of the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal (a United States Army chemical weapons manufacturing facility) and more than 330 species of wildlife inhabit the Arsenal including deer, coyotes, white pelicans, owls and American bison. It is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and was designated in 1992 by the United States Congress. The refuge will be 17,000 acres (6,900 ha) when remediation of Rocky Mountain Arsenal is complete and the land is transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Development of the National Wildlife Refuge
A winter communal roost of bald eagles, then an endangered species, was discovered on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in 1986. The Fish and Wildlife Service soon realized that it contained more than 330 species of wildlife. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act was passed in October 1992 and signed by then President George H. W. Bush. It stipulated that the majority of the site would become a National Wildlife Refuge under the jurisdiction of the Fish and Wildlife Service when the environmental restoration is completed. The Act also provides that to the extent possible, parts of the Arsenal are to be managed as a Refuge in the interim.
Developments Since 2004
Although the arsenal comprised 17,056 acres (6,902 ha) at the beginning of remediation in 1997, 5,976 acres (2,418 ha) of the Arsenal have been determined to meet cleanup requirements and are no longer part of the National Priorities List. Of that, approximately 4,927 acres (1,994 ha) were transferred by the Army to the USFWS in April 2004. An additional 7,200 acres (2,900 ha) were transferred to the USFWS in October 2006, making the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge one of the largest urban refuges in the United States. At that time the refuge comprised 12,500 acres (51 km2) and is home to more than 330 species of animals. Implementation of the remedy for the estimated 11,080 acres (44.84 km²) remaining is ongoing and is scheduled for completion in 2011. As of September 2010 clean-up was considered as complete and the remaining portions of land were transferred over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bring the total to 15,000 acres. As of May 21, 2011 the official Visitor Center was opened with an excellent exhibit about the site's history ranging from the homesteading era to its current use as a National Wildlife Refuge (http://www.fws.gov/rockymountainarsenal/).
Congruent with the outline of the June 1996 USFWS Comprehensive Management Plan, RMA will be available for public use through both community outreach and educational programs (as provided by the Visitor Access Plan and the USFWS). This public availability will be implemented while simultaneously supporting the remediation effort and the USFWS activities. Bus tours provide visitors the opportunity to view wildlife in their natural habitat, and is the best way to watch the American bison herd which is currently kept in a restricted range within the refuge.
A small herd of 16 bison was introduced to an enclosed 1,400 acres (570 ha) section of the refuge in March 2007 as part of the USFWS Pilot Bison Project. The animals were transferred from the National Bison Range in Montana  The Refuge is now home to 69 bison.
- "Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved August 13, 2012.