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Refuge System - Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region
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Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge—Colorado

Existing plan | Public involvement | Contacts | Documents | Open / close all

Image of the plan cover.

Image of the plan cover. Credit: USFWS.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (refuge) is an urban wildlife refuge just north of Den­ver, Colorado. The site neighbors several communi­ties that have historically played an active role in the development and management of the land. The refuge was officially established on April 21, 2004, when the Service accepted the first 4,930 acres of land in the southern and southeastern areas of the site from the U.S. Army.

The purposes of the refuge follow:

  • to conserve and enhance populations of plants, fish, and wildlife including waterfowl, raptors, songbirds, and other waterbirds
  • to conserve species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act and species that are candidates for such listing

  • to provide maximum fish- and wildlife-oriented public uses at levels compatible with conservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat
  • to provide opportunities for compatible scientific research
  • to provide opportunities for compatible environmental and land use education
  • to conserve and enhance land and water to conserve and enhance the natural diversity of fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats
  • to protect and enhance aquatic habitat
  • to fulfill international treaty obligations of the United States for fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

The refuge is a large natural area—almost 27 square miles of open land—yet it is only 10 miles from downtown Denver. Once a Superfund site, it is now a wildlife refuge. Once short-grass prairie, the area became farmland and then an army arsenal (chemical weapons plant), then an industrial site and finally a wildlife refuge. We have managed and will continue to manage this site as a wildlife refuge now that the cleanup of the site has been completed.

In-Progress Plan Status

Spring 2013 – Complete

Start planning
Notice of intent in Federal Register

Fall 2013 – Complete

Gather public input

Fall 2014 – Complete

Develop management alternatives

Winter 2014 – Complete

Prepare draft plan and environmental impact statement (EIS)

Spring 2015 – Complete

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

Summer 2015 – Complete

Analyze public comments

Summer 2015 – Complete

Complete final EIS
Notice of availability in Federal Register

Fall 2015 – Complete

Issue record of decision
Notice of availability in Federal Register

Winter 2016

Complete final plan
Notice of availability in Federal Register

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

  • Established by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act of 1992.
  • Comprises 17,000 acres.
  • Located in Adams County near Commerce City, Colorado.

Existing plan »

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A comprehensive management plan is a document prepared before Congress passed the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. This act of Congress required us to prepare comprehensive conservation plan to guide future management of the refuge. A comprehensive management plan developed has been guiding the management of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge since it was developed in 2006.

The following are major actions contained in the refuge’s comprehensive management plan of 2006:

  • Manage wildlife and habitat to contribute to ecosystem management.
  • Interact with communities and organizations through outreach and cooperative agreements to create mutually beneficial partnerships.
  • Develop environmental education and outreach programs for urban communities to nurture an appreciation of nature.
  • Provide opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreational activities.
  • Use the refuge for research compatible with refuge management.
  • Develop a support system to provide facilities, funding, and resources to meet refuge purposes.

A Planning Team composed of members of the refuge staff, other staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as members of the following agencies prepared a Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and released it to the public in May 2015:

  • Adams County
  • City of Commerce City
  • City and County of Denver
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Denver International Airport
  • Denver Water
  • Tri-County Health Department
  • Urban Drainage and Flood Control District
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
  • U.S. Department of Transportation, Fed¬eral Highway Administration

Based on the input received from the public, our partners, and refuge management needs, the Draft CCP and EIS addressed, among others, the following significant issues:

  • Habitat and Wildlife Management
  • Water Rights
  • Connecting people with nature
  • Setting clear expectations about the refuge
  • Improving and expanding public use facilities and programs
  • Improving public access to and transportation within the refuge
  • Maintaining a sense of retreat
  • Interpretation of the site’s history
  • Reintroducing native species, including federally listed species
  • Improving outreach to neighboring communities
  • Increasing partnership opportunities
  • Making the refuge more welcoming

Based on substantive comments received from the public, municipalities, and agencies during the public review period of the Draft CCP and EIS, we made appropriate modifications to the draft document to prepare the Final Environmental Impact Statement that can be viewed or downloaded form the Documents tab below.

Contacts »

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Planning team leader
Bernardo Garza and Toni Griffin
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Refuge Planning
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
303 / 236 4377 telephone
303 / 236 4378 telephone

303 / 236 4792 fax

Refuge email

Refuge address
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
6550 Gateway Road, Building 121
Commerce City, Colorado 80022

Refuge telephone
303 / 289 0232

Refuge Web site


Documents »

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Record of Decision

Notice of Availability

Environmental Impact Statement
Cover and Summary (5.7 MB PDF)
Chapter 1 (8.5 MB PDF)
Chapter 2 (33.2 MB PDF)
Chapter 3 (16.2 MB PDF)
Chapter 4 (5.7 MB PDF)
Chapter 5 (3.3 MB PDF)
Appendices (8.2 MB PDF)
Bibliography and Index (2.9 MB PDF)
Glossary (99 KB PDF)

Draft Comprehensive conservation plan and Environmental Impact Statement (CCP)
CCP 2015 (60 MB PDF)

Notice of Availability

Comprehensive management plan (CMP)
CMP 1996 (26 MB PDF)


By section, for faster download:
Contents, introduction/overview (2 MB PDF)
Chapter 1, the site and its context (8 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, vision and goals (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, development plan (5 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, environmental consequences (5 MB PDF)
Chapter 5, planning process (2 MB PDF)
Appendixes (3 MB PDF)

Planning process documents for the CCP
Notice of intent to prepare a CCP 2013 (PDF)
Planning update 1 2013 (1 MB PDF)

Planning process documents for the CMP
Notice of availability of draft environmental impact statement 1995 (PDF)
Notice of intent to prepare a CMP 1994 (PDF)

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.
Last modified: April 07, 2021
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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