Public comment period for elk management on San Luis Valley refuges ends Jan. 18

In an effort to reduce the im- pacts to riparian habitat on San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) by elk, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today released for public review and comment a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of strategies that can be immediately used to manage elk on Alamosa, Baca and Monte Vista NWR in Alamosa, Rio Grande and Saguache Counties, Colorado.

The purpose of this EA is to analyze strategies to reduce elk impacts on sensitive habitats within the refuge complex until completion

of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for these refuges. An ap- proved plan that considers various options is needed because the elk browsing is significantly compro- mising the quantity and quality of wetland and riparian habitat on all refuges within the refuge complex. The CCP will analyze several strategies, including public hunting, but is a comprehensive and lengthy process by its nature, and not re- sponsive to the immediate threats to migratory bird habitats. As a consequence this interim effort is required.  We have opened a 30-day comment period and will consider comments received or postmarked on or before January 18, 2013. The Service requests comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed EA. The draft EA is posted on the website for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex:

Comments may be submitted electronically to, or in writing to: San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 9383 El Rancho Lane, Alamosa, CO 81101.