Major Frederick R. Burnham, a frontiersman turned conservationist, observed that populations of bighorn sheep were sharply declining and appealed to the Boy Scouts to take up the cause. For two years, more than 10,000 boy Scouts and their leaders campaigned to protect bighorn sheep through a “save the bighorns” poster contest, talks, and dramatizations on the radio and at school assemblies. As a result of the campaign, land was set aside for the establishment of Kofa Game Range (as the refuge was originally known) and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.
Kofa Game Range was managed jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management until 1976 when it was awarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and renamed Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s name was derived from an acronym for one of the area’s most notable mines, the King of Arizona gold mine.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters managed for the benefit of wildlife and you. The refuge offers excellent opportunities to enjoy wildlife-dependent activities, including wildlife watching and photography, hiking, camping, and limited hunting. With more than 80 percent of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge designated as wilderness in 1990 under the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act, it offers vast lands to explore and appreciate.