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Refuge System - Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Land Protection Plan

San Luis Valley Conservation Area—Colorado &
New Mexico

The plan | Contacts | Documents | Open / close all

Alpenglow on Sierra Blanca Massif, Colorado. © Joe Zinn.

Alpenglow on Sierra Blanca Massif, Colorado. © Joe Zinn.

The Service approved the San Luis Valley Conservation Area in south-central Colorado and far northern New Mexico.

  • Comprises a project area within the San Luis Valley, which would become the fifth unit of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
  • Potential land protection of up to 530,000 acres with conservation easements bought from willing sellers.

  • Limited fee-title acquisition of up to 30,000 acres to meet management needs of the Alamosa, Baca, and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges.

The proposed conservation area is defined by the headwaters of the legendary Rio Grande, which begins its nearly 1,900-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico in the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains that surround the San Luis Valley.

Plan Status

Winter 2012 – Complete

Conduct scoping and public meetings

Spring 2012 – Complete

Prepare draft environmental assessment (EA) and plan

Summer 2012 – Complete

Release draft EA and plan for public review

Summer 2014 – Complete

Complete environmental review and final plan

Winter 2015 – Complete

Finalize Land Protection Plan

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

Runoff from mountain snowpack creates wetlands and riparian areas in the midst of what otherwise is a high-mountain desert, providing important habitat for dozens of species of migratory birds and other sensitive or imperiled species.

The surrounding sagebrush shrublands and mountains provide homes and migration corridors for the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, Canada lynx, and important State game species such as elk and deer.

The plan »

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We planned this conservation area as part of developing the comprehensive conservation plan for the refuges in the San Luis Valley.

After public comment on our draft plan (under "Documents" below), we separated out a portion of the proposed San Luis Valley Conservation Area which became the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area.

Conservation easement contracts would specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species and limits on residential, industrial, or commercial development. Contracts would prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, and drainage or filling of wetlands. When appropriate, easement contracts would prevent the sale of surface water rights or change in water use that would have substantial negative effects on the wildlife value of the property.

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

Contacts »

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Planning team leader
Sharon Vaughn
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
San Luis Valley Conservation Area
9383 El Rancho Lane
Alamosa, Colorado 81101

719 / 589 4021 ext 1001 telephone

Refuge complex email

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
Alamosa NWR
Baca NWR
Monte Vista NWR


Documents »

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: January 24, 2017
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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