The Friends of the 500th was established in 1996 as a nonprofit corporation that supports the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. We work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and our local community to meet wildlife and biological management objectives, recreational and educational goals, and to support diverse programs related to the Refuge. We are part of a network of over 250 Friends groups committed to supporting, protecting and improving National Wildlife Refuge resources. Members are our most important resource and are critical to the success of our organization and to our continued support of projects and educational programs at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Our members contribute in a variety of ways—from providing financial support through membership dues and donations, to actively volunteering. Every member is important in helping our organization continue to grow.
In 1974, Canaan Valley was designated as a National Natural Landmark because of its extraordinary wetland attributes.
In 1994 Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge was dedicated as the Nation’s 500th National Wildlife Refuge with the purchase of an 86 acre wetland tract. Today, the Refuge hosts more than 17,000 acres of special habitat and contains an estimated 580 species of plants and 280 species of animals.
Canaan Valley is the largest high elevation valley east of the Mississippi River. The high altitude and cool moist climate sustain a unique northern ecosystem unusual this far south. The valley includes a wetland habitat complex that is regionally significant because of its size and diversity. The American Woodcock is a trust resource (a species of significant importance) of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and its upland environments are home to two federally threatened or endangered species: WV Northern Flying Squirrel and Cheat Mountain Salamander.