Last month, Western Rivers Conservancy dropped the final piece into place in the effort to create the country’s newest unit of the National Wildlife Refuge system. WRC’s donation of a conservation easement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially established the San Luis Valley Conservation Area, which is now poised to protect up to 530,000 acres in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
With the new conservation area now in existence, the USFWS can work with willing landowners to place conservation easements on strategically important properties within the area’s boundaries. It is a major step toward conserving more fish and wildlife habitat, while increasing opportunities for recreational access, both to the rivers of the San Luis Valley and to the open space surrounding them.
The National Wildlife Refuge System is a vast network of public lands and waters dedicated to conserving the forests, plains, rivers, lakes, marshes and other natural areas that wildlife depend on for survival. WRC is proud to have played a pivotal role in the creation of the San Luis Valley Conservation Area. Donating the easement to the USFWS was part of our broader efforts in the San Luis Valley, where we are working to conserve the Rio Grande and its tributaries in partnership with the LOR Foundation, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust and Colorado Open Lands. Our efforts have conserved nearly 20,000 acres to date and are connecting people and communities to the valley’s rivers, where public access has been severely limited.