San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex Announces Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement
For Immediate Release
August 13, 2015
LAKEWOOD, Colo. –The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the publication of its final Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Refuge Complex).
The Refuge Complex, located in Alamosa, Rio Grande, and Saguache Counties in southern Colorado, consists of nearly 106,000 acres across three national wildlife refuges: Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges-and is home to the hundreds of year round resident birds-and an important stop-over location for migratory birds during their long journey between their breeding grounds to north and their wintering grounds to the south.
This conservation plan will guide the long-term management for these important and diverse wetlands, riparian areas, playas, and grasslands in the San Luis Valley over the next 15 years.
The plan focuses on restoring native plant and animal communities and increasing public use, opportunities for hunting, wildlife observation, photography, interpretation, and environmental education.
“Our goal with this CCP is to have a dynamic and comprehensive management tool that will preserve the integrity and beauty of these refuges-while providing for the thousands of migratory birds and resident species that call these refuges home,” said Sharon Vaughn, project leader for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, in March 2011, January 2012, and again in September 2014, the Service has involved the public, during its initial scoping, alternatives development, the release of the draft CCP and EIS. This final CCP and EIS describe four Refuge Complex management alternatives, including three action alternatives and a no-action alternative for managing the Refuge Complex over the next 15 years. The plan includes detailed information about the planning process, Refuge Complex, management issues, and the alternatives under consideration.
The alternatives also consider options for several topics of public interest: (1) the management of elk populations across the Refuge Complex; (2) whether bison conservation should be accommodated on Baca National Wildlife Refuge; (3) whether to open the Baca National Wildlife Refuge to public uses including hunting and wildlife observation; and whether to expand opportunities for public use on Monte Vista and Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge; (4) how the Service should manage its water resources on the Refuge Complex to meet the purposes of the refuges; and (5) and whether to recommend protection of potential wilderness values on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.
A copy of the final CCP and EIS for the Refuge Complex and other project information can be downloaded from the Web site at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/refuges/refugesUpdate/alm_bac_mtv.php.
Our final decision will be documented in a record of decision that will be published in the Federal Register no sooner than 30 days after filing the document with the Environmental Protection Agency. Soon after, we will begin implementation of the plan.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSMountainPrairie, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSMtnPrairie, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/.
– FWS –