U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2005.




Baca National Wildlife Refuge
c/o Alamosa/Monte Vista/Baca
National Wildlife Refuge Complex
8249 Emperius Road
Alamosa, Colorado 81101


719 / 256 5527




Land Protection Plan

Baca National Wildlife Refuge
Conceptual Management Plan



The conceptual management plan gives local landowners, neighboring governmental agencies, and the public a general understanding of the anticipated management approach for the Baca National Wildlife Refuge over the next 3–5 years. This includes how the Service will manage wildlife and their habitats, visitor services, and facilities, along with how we will coordinate with other agencies. Planning for a comprehensive conservation plan, a 15-year guiding document, is scheduled to start in 2011.

Part of the Alamosa/Monte Vista/Baca National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the refuge is in a high mountain basin, the San Luis Valley, in south-central Colorado.

  • Authorized by the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000, to comprise 92,500 acres.
  • Established in 2003 with the transfer of the 3,300-acre White Ranch from the Bureau of Reclamation. Increased by 53,500 acres from the Baca Ranch purchase made jointly by The Nature Conservancy and Department of the Interior in 2004; Federal buyout of The Nature Conservancy was in 2005.
  • Located about 35 miles northeast of Alamosa, near the town of Crestone, Colorado, in Alamosa and Saguache counties.

Habitats at Baca National Wildlife Refuge include wet meadows, playa basins, riparian corridors, grasslands, and semidesert shrub communities dominated by greasewood and rabbitbrush.

 Photograph of a playa lake surrounded by sparse vegetation at Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

A playa lake at Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

Water control structures on several streams distribute runoff from snowmelt into large meadows dominated by Baltic rush, sedges, and other wetland plants. The refuge is an important stopover for migrating sandhill cranes and hosts many waterbirds such as white-faced ibis, sora, Virginia rail, Wilson’s phalarope, and American avocet. A globally rare plant, the slender spiderflower, occurs in the transition zones between shrub land and grassland communities.

Baca National Wildlife Refuge is part of a large grouping of interconnected conservation lands—more than 500,000 acres—that includes the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Rio Grande National Forest, The Nature Conservancy’s Medano Ranch, San Luis Lakes State Park, and lands controlled by the Colorado State Land Board.