U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

In-Progress Plan Status

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Early 2011

Start planning
Notice of intent in Federal Register

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Spring 2011

Gather public input

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Summer 2011

Develop management alternatives

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Spring 2014

Prepare draft plan and environmental impact statement (EIS)

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Summer 2014

Release draft plan and EIS for public review
Notice of availability in Federal Register

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Winter 2014

Analyze public comments

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Winter 2015

Complete final EIS
Notice of availability in Federal Register

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Spring 2015

Issue record of decision
Notice of availability in Federal Register

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Fall 2015

Complete final plan


 

Information about the planning process is in Planning Overview. Terms are in the Glossary.

Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan


San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Colorado

Description

This plan is for the following units of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex:

  • Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge
  • Baca National Wildlife Refuge
  • Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge

On completion, the comprehensive conservation plan will set out the management and use of all units of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex for 15 years. The refuge complex covers about 106,000 acres on the valley floor of the San Luis Valley, a high mountain basin in south-central Colorado.

Migratory birds find an important stopover in a variety of refuge habitats: wet meadow, playa wetland, a diverse riparian system within the Rio Grande floodplain, desert shrubland, grassland, and cropland.

With 12,000 years of recorded human history, people have played a role in shaping these refuges.

Water is the lifeblood of the San Luis Valley and the refuges. While only 7 inches of precipitation falls each year in the valley, spring snowmelt from the Sangre de Cristo Range and the San Juan Mountains provides essential water to the valley.

We completed a comprehensive conservation plan for the Alamosa and Monte Vista Refuges in 2003 and a conceptual management plan for the newly established Baca Refuge in 2005. Current planning will build on these plans with new information. The new plan will address these refuges as part of landscape conservation in the San Luis Valley, which includes the proposed Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area and the proposed San Luis Valley Conservation Area.

Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge

The purpose of the refuge is to protect migratory birds and other wildlife.

  • Authorized in 1963 and set aside under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
  • Comprises 12,026 acres including more than 15 miles of critical riparian habitat along the Rio Grande.
  • Located outside Alamosa, Colorado, in Alamosa County.  

The refuge’s wet meadows, river oxbows, and riparian areas offer a wildlife oasis in this dry region. The southwestern willow flycatcher—a small neotropical songbird on the Federal endangered species list—frequents the corridor of willows and cottonwoods along the Rio Grande.

Refuge habitats support other songbirds as well as many species of waterbirds and raptors. Deer, beaver, and coyote are common mammals.

A visitor center, auto tour route, and several trails offer opportunities to learn about and view wildlife.

Photograph of five black and white shorebirds with short beaks and long legs flying over a wetland.

The cover of the draft plan shows sandhill cranes and other birds. Copyright Joe Zinn.

Baca National Wildlife Refuge

The purpose of the refuge is to restore, enhance, and maintain habitat for native plants, fishes, and wildlife—emphasizing conservation of migratory birds. Woven into this purpose is the refuge’s role in conservation efforts throughout the broader landscape. The purpose includes using water about the same as it has been used historically. 

  • Authorized in 2000 under the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000, amended 2008.
  • Approved acquisition boundary of 92,500 acres. Currently comprises 78,670 acres.
  • Located within Alamosa and Saguache Counties, Colorado.

The refuge includes part of the Luis Maria Baca Grant Number 4, referred to as the Baca Ranch. Wetlands, uplands, riparian areas, and other habitats support a large elk herd and a variety of other native wildlife, plants, and fishes including the Rio Grande sucker. The Nature Conservancy has the largest inholding of land within the approved acquisition boundary.

Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge

The purpose of the refuge is to protect migratory birds and other wildlife.

  • Authorized in 1952 and set aside under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
  • Comprises 14,804 acres.
  • Located outside Monte Vista, Colorado, in Rio Grande County.

Mallards, northern pintails, teal, and Canada geese are common waterfowl at the refuge. Other common waterbirds are American avocets, killdeer, white-faced ibises, egrets, and herons. Irrigation canals and wells provide precious water to maintain the important wetland habitat for these birds. In addition, sandhill cranes migrating through the area in spring and fall find essential feeding habitat in refuge fields and privately owned farmland.

To enjoy the sights and sounds of the refuge, visitors travel a self-guided, interpretive auto route or walking trail.

Public involvement

To hear from us about this planning effort, you can get on our mailing list.

You can contact us by comment form, email, postal mail, telephone, or fax (refer to “Contacts” below).

2014 Public meetings

Alamosa, Colorado
September 29, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
San Luis Valley Water
Conservancy District
623 Fourth Street
719 / 589 2230

Monte Vista, Colorado
September 30, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Monte Vista COOP
Community Room
1901 E. Highway 160
719 / 852 5181

Moffat, Colorado
October 01, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Moffat School
501 Garfield Avenue
719 / 256 4710.

Contacts

Planning team leader
Laurie Shannon
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Refuge Planning
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

laurie_shannon@fws.gov
303 / 236 4317 telephone
303 / 236 4792 fax

Project email
slvrefugesplanning@fws.gov

Refuge complex email
alamosa@fws.gov

Refuge complex mailing address
San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex
9383 El Rancho Lane
Alamosa, Colorado 81101

Refuge complex street address
San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex
8249 Emperius Road
Alamosa, Colorado

Refuge complex telephone
719 / 589 4021

Refuge complex Web sites
www.fws.gov/alamosa/alamosanwr.html
www.fws.gov/alamosa/bacanwr.html
www.fws.gov/alamosa/monte%20vista.html

Documents

Draft comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) and environmental impact statement (EIS)
Draft CCP and EIS 2014 (17 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents, Summary (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction (1.5 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, The Refuge (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Alternatives
(10 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, Affected Environment
(11 MB PDF) Chapter 5, Environmental Consequences (9 MB PDF)
Appendixes (13 MB PDF)

Planning process documents
Planning update 3 2014 (2 MB PDF)
Notice of availability of draft CCP 2014 (PDF) Planning update 2 2012 (3 MB PDF)
Scoping report 2011 (4 MB PDF)
Planning update 1 2011 (2 MB PDF)
News release 1 2011 (PDF)
Notice of intent to develop a CCP 2011 (PDF) Public involvement summary 2011 (2 MB PDF)