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Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is a 5,237-acre United States National Wildlife Refuge. Broomfield, Boulder, and Jefferson counties all border the Refuge. Urban development surrounds the property o the northeast and southeast, but to the north, east, and west, it is surrounded by a large open area, offering a protected corridor for migrating species.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service manages the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), formed in 2007. It was created in part to protect and preserve over 630 plant species, including the exotic xeric tallgrass prairie, which provides habitat for a variety of wildlife and is a valuable natural and conservation resource.

Deer, coyotes, elk, songbirds,  Prairie falcons, and the federally endangered Preble’s meadow jumping mouse are among the 239 migratory and resident wildlife species that call it home. Migrating ducks, raptors, and various mammals are attracted to the Refuge’s forests, wetland habitats, and rolling prairie grasslands. For the last 30 to 50 years, large parts of the Refuge have largely remained undisturbed, resulting in a broad range of environment and fauna. 

The Refuge’s various habitats and linkages to adjacent open areas support a wide range of mammals. Hundreds of invertebrates live on the Refuge, many of which are vital pollinators of native grasses and flowers. The Refuge has been home to around 185 species of migratory birds, with about 75 of them thought to breed there. In the prairie, shrubland, forest, and wetland environments, there are about 630 plant species.

Before the 1800s, Native Americans inhabited the region on a sporadic basis, and natives discovered a few relics from this period. The Scott family constructed a farm here in 1868 and used the area to breed cattle. In the 1940s, the Lindsay family kept cattle and built a house and barn.

Later on, the Rocky Flats (RF) Plant, including the Lindsay site, was created by the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1951 to develop nuclear and nonnuclear weaponry, including plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons.

In 1974, the plant development received a boost of an additional 4,027 acres.

In the era of the Cold War, the Department of Energy was in charge of 13 nuclear weapons development facilities across the Country (DOE). The plant was operational from 1952 to 1994, with manufacturing activities in the center of the site, surrounded by a vast buffer zone.

The National Priorities List (Superfund List) expanded after the site’s inclusion to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1989. The Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site was renamed after the facility’s mission changed from production to cleanup and closure. While restoration was proceeding, the Rocky Flats Act of 2001 designated the area as a national wildlife refuge.

Presently, the Refuge is home to various animals, both native and migratory. The National Wildlife Refuge System, which includes approximately 560 shelters, is a network of grounds set aside and managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service exclusively for wildlife. 

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