About the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (FLANWR)

Awarded 2013 Southwest Region
Friends of the Year Award 

The mission of the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge shall be to educate the public regarding the flora, fauna, and natural environment of the Refuge, through functions and educational events, promote public support for the Refuge by encouraging and organizing volunteer services, and solicit public donations for use in supporting, assisting, and enhancing ongoing conservation projects on the Refuge.


No wonder so many concerned people like you (nature lovers, conservationists, wildlife watchers, volunteers, birders, photographers, outdoor enthusiasts, ranchers, educators, anglers, hunters, business people and more) have come together to support Friends of LANWR.


  • We organize and host the annual Ocelot Conservation Festival in South Texas since 1997. In 2019, we also brought ocelot awareness to the Longhorn Cattle Company at our 'Afternoon with an Ocelot.'  In the past we've hosted an annual ocelot Soiree, a fundraising event for Ocelot Conservation, and a 5K run through the Gladys Porter Zoo.  

  • Funded the purchase of live traps, trail cameras, and radio & GPS tracking collars for ocelot research.

  • We partnered with USFWS to restore 153 acres of coastal prairie along Holly Beach, removed 8,500 lb of trash from the area, and and installed nearly 5,000 feet of fencing to prevent illegal dumping and offroading!

  • Have donated approximately $7,000 since 2004 to help monitor and protect Kemp's ridley sea turtles.

  • Sponsor Save Texas Ocelots.org specialty license plate.  Friends of Laguna Atascosa receives $22.00 from the sale or renewal of each plate from the TxDMV, 100% of which goes to ocelot conservation.

  • Operate the Visitor Center's nature store, which offers educational, interpretive and promotional materials benefiting the refuge.

  • Successfully write and manage grants, including funding for the Ocelot Translocation Project, Bahia Grande Wetland Restoration, boardwalk overlooks along Laguna Madre at  Plover Point and Redhead Ridge, and  Aplomado Falcon Habitat Restoration at Bahia Grande.

  • Conduct outreach through special events, the web site, brochures and other promotional materials.

  • Lobby on a local and national level for land acquisition funding and other issues that affect wildlife conservation in South Texas.

Our Board of Directors


Nicole Ekstrom


Vice President

Robert Severson 



Joyce Hamilton


Dr. Thomas deMaar 

Board Members

Patrick Anderson

Dr. Christopher Gabler

Dr. Greg Garcia

Dr. David Hicks

David Lohse

Pete Moore

Richard Moore

Dr. Sharon Wilcox

Shane Wilson



click to learn more.

  • Refuge open daily, sunrise to sunset. Entry fees are currently waived.

  • Steve Thompson Wildlife Drive (formerly, Bayside Drive), the refuge's 14 mile auto tour loop, is CLOSED to private vehicle traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians to protect endangered ocelots.  

  • Buena Vista Road is open. THE SPEED LIMIT IS 25 MPH!

  • Please do not drive or park on the dedicated bicycle lane.

  • Refuge walking and biking trails are open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset.

  • Visitor Center is closed. Call 956-244-2019 for information.

©2020 by Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.