Paul Kroegel Award Winner — The National Wildlife Refuge Association

WASHINGTON, D.C. – JUNE 5th, 2024 –  Under the exceptional stewardship of David Lucas, the Colorado Front Range National Wildlife Refuge Complex, encompassing the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Two Ponds, and Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuges, stands out for its conservation excellence and urban community engagement. David Lucas’s innovative leadership has earned him the prestigious 2024 Paul Kroegel Award – Refuge Manager of the Year.

Named after Paul Kroegel, the first manager of the inaugural refuge at Pelican Island, Florida, this award honors refuge managers who have made significant contributions to the protection and management of national wildlife refuges. The 2024 Wildlife Refuge Awards ceremony and celebration will be held on September 18th starting at 5:30 pm in Washington, D.C. at the esteemed Mayflower Hotel. Media coverage of this event is highly encouraged.

“David’s transformative vision and unwavering dedication have turned former Superfund sites into vibrant urban wildlife refuges, setting a new standard for conservation in urban settings,” said Katherine Kramer, Staff, Friends of the Front Range Wildlife Refuges. “His efforts have not only restored habitats but also connected diverse underserved urban communities to nature in their backyard.”

David’s notable accomplishments include:

  • Transformation of Superfund Sites: Under David’s leadership, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR and Rocky Flats NWR have been successfully rehabilitated from former Superfund sites to thriving national wildlife refuges, attracting over one million visitors annually.

  • Grassland & Habitat Restoration: David has overseen the restoration of 15,000 acres of short grass prairie, mixed grass prairie, and riparian habitats. This includes the reintroduction of the endangered black-footed ferret and managing a healthy bison herd, key to the Department of the Interior’s Bison Stewardship Program.

  • Community Engagement & Accessibility: David has expanded access to the refuges by installing ADA accessible trails and fishing piers, building nature-based recreational opportunities, and creating urban connections to underserved communities. His initiatives include hiring bilingual rangers to better serve diverse local populations.

  • Innovative Conservation Projects: David secured significant funding through the Inflation Reduction Act and other sources to implement large-scale grassland and riparian restoration projects, enhancing both wildlife habitats and community resilience to environmental challenges.

  • Youth and Career Development: By partnering with local youth organizations, David has created career paths from internships to full-time employment in conservation, mentoring the next generation of environmental stewards.

The Colorado Front Range NWR Complex, under David’s guidance, serves as a model for urban wildlife conservation, offering invaluable habitats for species like the black-footed ferret and bison while providing enriching nature experiences for urban residents. His work exemplifies the legacy of Paul Kroegel, combining effective habitat management with community outreach and education.

Join us in celebrating David Lucas’s extraordinary contributions to wildlife conservation at the 2024 Wildlife Refuge Awards. Visit to learn more.


The National Wildlife Refuge Association is a non-profit exclusively focused on protecting, promoting, and enhancing the 850-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, the world’s largest network of lands and waters set aside for wildlife conservation.

For all media inquiries and questions, please contact Eden Taylor, Communications Manager at

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