The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking comments through February 24, on various alternatives regarding management scenarios for Colorado’s San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex (Refuge Complex) over the next 15 years. The draft alternatives are outlined in a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Refuge Complex, which includes Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, and the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, totaling over 106,000 acres.
The management alternative that is adopted for the CCP planning effort will complement a larger landscape scale conservation effort to protect the rich diversity of wildlife habitat, including some of the nation’s most dynamic wetlands through the use of conservation easements. The landscape conservation effort is a part of the Secretary of Interior Salazar’s vision for conserving the working landscape of the San Luis Valley under America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
“The Service is committed to taking significant steps to help achieve the Secretary’s vision through our planning efforts in working with partners throughout the San Luis Valley,” stated Steve Guertin, Regional Director. “The input we receive on the CCP is an integral part in moving us forward in this direction.”
The CCP will address the conservation of fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats, and describe opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation that are compatible with refuge purposes. It will guide management decisions and set forth goals, objectives, and strategies to accomplish these tasks. The Service hopes to finalize the plan by late 2014.
Throughout the public comment period, the Service will host a series of public meetings in the Valley. During these meetings, the Service will present four management alternatives: (1) no action; (2-Proposed) wildlife populations, strategic habitat restoration, and enhanced public uses; (3) habitat restoration and ecological processes; and (4) maximize public use opportunities. In addition, the Service will provide background information on the larger landscape scale conservation effort.
These meetings are scheduled as follows:
January 23—6:30-8:30pm, Alamosa County Building, 8900 Independence Way, Room 108, Alamosa
January 24—6:30-8:30pm, Monte Vista COOP Community Room, 1901 E. Highway 160, Monte Vista
January 25—6:30-8:30pm, Moffat School, 501 Garfield Avenue, Moffat
The refuges provide important habitat for nesting, migrating, and wintering birds, including grebes, herons, ibis, ducks, geese, hawks, eagles, falcons, shorebirds, owls, songbirds, and others. They are also an important stop over for numerous migratory birds. Nearly 20,000 sandhill cranes spend several months in the San Luis Valley during the spring and fall migrations, feeding and resting to replace critical fat reserves. Additionally, many species of mammals also use the refuges, including elk, deer, coyote, porcupine, and other small mammals.
For more information about the alternatives, to subscribe to the mailing list, or to submit comments on the project visit: www.fws.gov/alamosa/planning. Comments will be accepted during the meetings or via letters addressed to: Laurie Shannon, Planning Team Leader, PO Box 25486, Denver, CO 80225-0486; or via email to SLVrefugesplanning@fws.gov.
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. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our Twitter feed, watch our YouTube channel, and view our flickr photo stream.