DENVER – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public input on a draft Habitat Management Plan for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex in south central Colorado. The two-week comment period on the plan will end Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
The Complex includes the Alamosa, Monte Vista and Baca National Wildlife Refuges, which encompass roughly 106,000 acres of grasslands, wetlands and river habitats between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Located in the Central Flyway for migratory birds, the Complex is well-known for its greater sandhill crane migration, which brings roughly 25,000 birds to the valley in mid-March and mid-October.
The Habitat Management Plan is a stepdown plan tiered from the Complex’s 2015 Comprehensive Conservation Plan. It recommends changes to existing management infrastructure to improve efficiency in how, where and when water is used to enhance and restore habitat diversity and meet wildlife population objectives. By focusing water usage on priority natural wetland areas, this management plan will support healthy fish and wildlife populations by improving nesting, foraging and migration habitat for a wide array ofand wetland dependent species including waterfowl, marshbirds, shorebirds and songbirds. These management actions will also improve hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities for the public.
“This plan allows us to make the best use of water, one of our most critical resources for the benefit of the wildlife of the San Luis Valley, as well as for our recreating public, “ says San Luis Valley NWR Complex Project Leader Sharon Vaughn. “We appreciate the tremendous support by our partners, who have been very engaged in helping us problem solve. This effort highlights how we can achieve greater success by working together.”
Throughout the development of this plan, the Service has worked closely with Ducks Unlimited and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This plan identifies specific water management infrastructure changes, such as the removal or modification of contour terraces, irrigation ditches and diversion/control structures. These changes will improve the quality and extent of natural wetland areas allowing some artificially created wetlands to revert to native upland habitat, restore natural creek drainages and reduce drainage of groundwater. New fence construction will improve critical riparian habitat. Projects proposed in this plan will result in more efficient use of limited water resources and reduce staff time and future maintenance needs, thus saving taxpayer dollars.
Written comments will be accepted via email to email@example.com or U.S. Mail to San Luis Valley NWR Complex, Attn: Habitat Management Plan, 9383 El Rancho Lane, Alamosa, CO 81101. For specific questions, please contact Sharon Vaugh at 719-589-4021. The final Habitat Management Plan is anticipated to be published later this spring.
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. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen in the West, visit our website, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Instagram.