Noxious weeds are the largest long term biological threat to Monte Vista and Alamosa National Wildlife Refuges. Tall whitetop (Lepidium latifolium) is the most problematic of several species. It thrives in saline, moist soils but has demonstrated incredible adaptability by infesting a wide variety of wetlands and upland sites, frequently out competing native vegetation favored by wildlife. Control measures in the San Luis Valley are limited to marginally effective herbicides, water management, use of livestock and other combinations of management treatments. This plant appears to flourish in wetlands that receive rest from regular removal of vegetation. Consequently the practice of extended rest that is beneficial to ground nesting birds in the short term can be a source of friction between refuge management, neighboring landowners and county weed boards.
Drought and Water Management
The San Luis Valley has recently experienced the driest period in recorded history, impacting all facets of refuge management. 2002 and 2003 provided the lowest duck production since establishment of Monte Vista NWR in 1952. Refuge water management during this drought has emphasized minimal use of groundwater while maintaining some nesting and migration habitat.
Colorado Wetlands Program
This program was established by the Colorado Division of Wildlife in 1996. At the state level this partnership is represented by Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, Great Outdoors Colorado, Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service=s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. This program established 11 wetland focus areas across the state. The San Luis Valley Wetlands Focus Area has been very successful bringing in over $5 million in grants from sources such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, Colorado State Duck Stamp Program, Ducks Unlimited and American Farmland Trust. Projects funded have included extensive wetland restoration, and habitat protection. The two national wildlife refuges and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in the San Luis Valley have benefited by receiving over $2 million through this program.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus has been identified on Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. We are working with the Alamosa Mosquito Control District to plan mosquito control measures to lessen threats to human health and safety, consistent with Fish and Wildlife Service policy.