Though the Balcones Refuge was created to protect the nesting habitat of two endangered birds, the Golden-cheeked warbler and the Black-capped vireo, it has become so much more.
In 2017 over 3200 students participated in nature-based Environmental Education events.
Recreation is important too. The trails at the Refuge have been called "the best in the Hill Country". The dove and deer hunting programs bring hunters out to enjoy a day in the Hill Country and keep wildlife populations in check. The Firearms Safety Program introduces new and experienced hunters to best practices.
Keeping the Hill Country wild is paramount. Balcones has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Working with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Balcones Refuge collected tens of thousands of milkweed seeds to help save the declining Monarch population. In 2017 Balcones, along with its partners, outfitted 100 Golden-cheeked warblers with geolocators in order to study their migration patterns. Currently the Refuge is partnering with others to insure the water quality of the Cow Creek watershed.