ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local wildlife center is celebrating a birthday. The grand opening for the Valle de Oro Wildlife Refuge visitor center launched the celebration of 10 years worth of conservancy work.

Director of Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Amy Lueders said she’s feeling proud as it was the first urban wildlife refuge established in the Southwest.

During the event, leaders from across the state, city, county, and Isleta Pueblo gathered with organizers to celebrate the refuge, which sits on more than 570 acres of ancestral land of the Tiwa people. The refuge works to restore native habitats and give equitable access to nature to the community.

Speakers thanked all the different groups involved who fought for the refuge and those who helped design the visitor center.

“When this property came up for sale, and the community saw who was lining up to develop the property, a small group of neighbors came together to save this property from becoming just another development,” said Mountain View Neighborhood Association Board Member David Barber.

The visitor center will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekly.