Resource Management

Storm at Baca upland landscape 512x219

Baca National Wildlife Refuge restores, enhances, and maintains wetland, upland, riparian, and other habitats for wildlife plants and fish species that are native to the San Luis Valley. The Refuge conserves and enhances the mixtures of wetland and desert habitats found in the area to accomplish these goals. Habitat management tools used on the Refuge include water and wetland management, weed control, haying, grazing, and prescribed fire.

 


 

Using Water, Grazing, Haying, and Prescribed Fire to Benefit Wildlife

A variety of management techniques are used to maintain, recover, enhance, and promote healthy habitat for wildlife.  The Refuge staff evaluates conditions, design, and use management techniques that maintain habitats.  

Most of Baca Refuge was part of the historic Baca Ranch which was in continuous operation for well over a century before being acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Many of the habitats on the Refuge changed under traditional ranching techniques such as irrigation, haying, and cattle grazing. Variations of these techniques are still used to maintain the Refuge habitats.  

Irrigation is used to maintain the wet meadow and playa habitats. Spring run-off from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is re-routed out of the streams through a series of diversions and ditches which spread the water over the wet meadow and playa habitats. 

Grazing and haying is then used to provide a variety of plants, depending on the needs of specific wildlife species. Grazing is also used periodically in upland habitats to maintain grass health and growth vigor. 

Prescribed fire is used, as is grazing and haying, to remove old vegetation, promote new growth, and alter various habitat types to benefit wildlife.

Non-native invasive weeds are found throughout the Valley. They thrive in the valley and often crowd out the native plants favored by wildlife. The management techniques described above are used to combat the spread of these invasive weeds.