U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2012.




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


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


719 / 589 4021


www.fws.gov/refuge/alamosa/ www.fws.gov/refuge/baca/ www.fws.gov/refuge/monte_vista/


Land Protection Plan

Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area

Colorado and New Mexico


After public comment on our draft plan for the proposed San Luis Valley Conservation Area, we decided to separate out a portion of the area that has immediate conservation need and opportunities. We are establishing the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area in south-central Colorado and far northern New Mexico.

  • Comprises a project area within the San Luis Valley, which would become the fourth unit of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
  • Potential land protection of up to 250,000 acres with conservation easements bought from willing sellers.

In September 2012, we accepted the donation of a 76,700-acre conservation easement from Mr. Louis Bacon to establish the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area. (Following is a video showing the landscape and the easement-signing ceremony.)

Video courtesy of Trinchera Blanca Ranch.

The conservation area is in the southeastern corner of Rio Grande's headwaters, on the western slope of the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Mountains. These mountains rise from the floor of the San Luis Valley to 14,345 feet at Blanca Peak.

The highest reaches of the Sange de Cristo Mountains provide a home for the charismatic American pika and the climate change–imperiled white-tailed ptarmigan. Below are forests, the haunt of the reclusive Canada lynx. Clear mountain streams are home to some of the remaining populations of Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

Plan cover showing a sagebrush valley with snow-covered mountains in the background.

Cover photograph of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the San Luis Valley in Colorado.
Copyright Trinchera Ranch

The mountains transition into desert shrubland and the edge of the San Luis Valley's last large expanse of sagebrush and it unique birds.

The conservation area is an important opportunity to protect these habitats including the wildlife corridors that run along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Conservation easement contracts will specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species and limits on residential, industrial, or commercial development. Contracts will prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, and drainage or filling of wetlands.

Easement land will remain in private ownership. Therefore, property tax and invasive plant control is the responsibility of the landowner, who also retains control of public access to the land. Contracts will not restrict grazing on easement land.


Land protection plan (LPP)
LPP 2012 (7 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents (PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction and Project Description (PDF)
Chapter 2, Area Description and Resources (1 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Threats to and Status of Resources (PDF)
Chapter 4, Project Implementation (2 MB PDF)
Appendixes (4 MB PDF)

Planning process documents
Notice of establishment 2012 (PDF)
Fact sheet 2012 (PDF)