The 93,000 acre Baca National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northeastern part of the San Luis Valley. The Refuge has a diverse combination of shrublands, grasslands, wet meadows, playa wetlands, and corridors. This Refuge was set aside not only as a haven for migratory birds and resident wildlife, but also for its importance in a broader conservation effort to protect the wildlife, habitat, and water of the northern San Luis Valley. The Refuge also contains the rich archeological telling of over 12,000 years of use by humans, including the extensive history of the famed Baca Grant Ranch.
Location and Contact Information
About the Refuge
The 93,000 acre Baca National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northeastern part of the San Luis Valley. The Refuge has a diverse combination of shrublands, grasslands, wet meadows, playa wetlands, and corridors. This Refuge was set aside not only as a haven for migratory birds and resident wildlife, but also for its importance in a broader conservation effort to protect the wildlife, habitat, and water of the northern San Luis Valley. The Refuge also contains rich archeological artifacts, telling of over 12,000 years of use by humans, including the extensive history of the famed Baca Grant Ranch.
The San Luis Valley, sitting at 7,800 feet, extends over 100 miles from north to south and 50 miles from east to west. Three mountain ranges surround the valley – the Sangre de Christo to the east, the San Juan to the west, and the Saguache to the north. At sunset, the Sangre de Christo take on a blood red glow which inspired the Spanish explorers to name them “Blood of Christ.”
The surrounding mountains feed the arid valley with precious surface water and replenish an expansive underground reservoir. The mountain snow melt and artesian wells provide needed water to the agricultural community and to the rivers, creeks, and wetlands that thread across the valley floor.
About the Complex
The San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex is made up of the Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges and is an area set aside for migratory birds and resident wildlife. These Refuges are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. The Refuge System is a living heritage, conserving wildlife, and habitat for people today and generations to come.
The 12,026 acre Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge includes wetland areas, riparian corridors, wet meadows, and river oxbows. The wetland and river habitats provide a wildlife oasis in this dry region. These habitats support a variety of wildlife, including songbirds, water birds, raptors, deer, beavers, coyotes, and more.
The artificially created wetlands on Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge’s 14,804 acres are intensively managed to provide habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl and other water birds. Mallards, pintails, teals, and Canada geese are common, as are American avocets, killdeers, white-faced ibises, egrets, and herons. Irrigation canals and wells provide precious water to maintain this important habitat.
The 93,000 acre Baca National Wildlife Refuge is a highly diverse combination of shrublands, grasslands, wet meadows, playa wetlands, and riparian areas. This Refuge was set aside not only as a haven for migratory birds and resident wildlife, but also as an important piece in a broader conservation effort to protect the wildlife, habitat, and water of the north and eastern portions of the San Luis Valley.
What We Do
Sheep Grazing Opportunity on the San Luis Valley NWR Complex 2023
San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Cooperative Agriculture Program
Sheep Grazing Permit (2023-2027)
Attention Agricultural Operators:
Starting February 1st, 2023, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) will be seeking to permit selected agricultural operator(s) for a Cooperative Agricultural Program at the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Refuge Complex). The refuge complex consists of the Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges in southcentral Colorado. Under this permit agreement, selected operator(s) will fulfill prescriptions for specific intensities of sheep grazing for a period of up to 5 years (2023-2027). The acres available for grazing will vary annually based on habitat and environmental conditions, however about 5500 acres on Alamosa Refuge, about 9000 acres on Monte Vista Refuge, and about 15,000 aces on Baca Refuge are considered for these offerings, each year for a period of up to 5 years (2023-2027).
The Service’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Refuge Complex provides resource management objectives for each refuge. It outlines that the refuges provide resting, feeding, and breeding habitats for native fish, wildlife, and migratory bird species. Additionally, it identifies the permitting of prescribed grazing as a management tool as an appropriate, compatible, and necessary use to meet the CCP objectives. So, through the Cooperative Agricultural Program, both the selected applicants and the Service complete and sign both a Special Use Permit and a Cooperative Agricultural Agreement to permit grazing on refuge lands accordingly.
Proposed Cooperative Agriculture Agreement
Interested applicants should read all requirements and flexibilities outlined in this package and complete the application as thoroughly as possible. Selected sheep operators will work under a Cooperative Agriculture Agreement (CAA) as a “Cooperator” with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service). Under this agreement, selected Cooperators will fulfill prescriptions for specific intensities of sheep grazing on the Refuge Complex for a period of up to 5 years (2023-2027).
Bids will be accepted based on cattle equivalent of Animal Unit Month (AUM) of which, a Mature Sheep/Goat is 0.2 AUM and an Ewe-lamb/nanny-kid pair is 0.3 AUM. The minimum bid accepted is $19.50/AUM. This grazing fee is based on average grazing fee rates published by USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for Colorado for 2022. Grazing fees in years 2023-2027 will be adjusted accordingly based on NASS published average rates.
There will be three (3) Bid Packages available for bidding. Operators can submit applications for one, two, or for all three bid packages. If applying for more than one bid package, operators must be able to fulfill all required stocking rates for each refuge separately. See links below for application and bid forms.
*** Potential bidders must attend a pre-bid onsite briefing and formal inspection tour to have their bids considered. (Dates and time are listed in bid packets).
Bid Package # 1 - Alamosa Refuge, Alamosa County, Colorado
Bid Package # 2 - Monte Vista Refuge, Rio Grande County, Colorado
Bid Package # 3 - Baca Refuge, Saguache County, Colorado
Cooperator(s) will be selected through an open, transparent, and competitive process where applicants will be scored and ranked based on a combination of a competitive bids, reference checks, flexibilities, ability to provide in-kind services, and relevant experience.
Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2023. (Postmarked by Friday, February 24, 2023, if mailed)
Hand delivers or Mail to:
SLVNWRC – Dean Lee
Attn: 2023-2027 Sheep Grazing
9383 El Rancho Lane
Alamosa, CO 81101
Dean_Lee@fws.gov with subject line “2023-2027 Sheep Grazing”
Sealed applications will be opened starting on February 27, 2023, and selected operators will be notified starting on Monday, March 6, 2023.
For more information, please reach out to Dean Lee at 1-719-589-4021 ext. 1008 or by email at Dean_Lee@fws.gov.
Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which ais established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.
The Rio Grande Chub and Rio Grande Sucker are two specific fish species found on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. The Rio Grande Chub is a species of concern in the state of Colorado and is monitored to ensure their population is thriving. The Rio Grande Sucker is an endangered species in the state of Colorado. With their populations found in only a few waterways, including on the Refuge, these fish are heavily monitored and researched to help biologist learn about their habitats and life cycle needs. Currently, over 2500 suckers have been tagged with tracking monitors that show their seasonal movements along the streams. This information is vital to insure adequate stream flows and bodies of water are available during critical times of the year.
The Baca National Wildlife Refuge is home to an impressive herd of American Elk that exceeds 1500 head of animals at any given time of the year. Many of these elk are "resident" elk, which means they don't migrate in and out of the refuge. Instead they are born and raised, for the most part, their entire lives on the the Refuge.