DU helps partners restore San Luis Valley habitat

Wetlands degraded in important bird migration stopover.

Ducks Unlimited doing restoration work in Baca. The San Luis Valley has long been a DU priority.

Ducks Unlimited doing restoration work in Baca. The San Luis Valley has long been a DU priority.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have asked Ducks Unlimited to assist with three projects on National Wildlife Refuges in the San Luis Valley. Restoration and enhancement projects are underway on Baca, Monte Vista and Alamosa national wildlife refuges. They are scheduled to be completed prior to start of the fall 2018 waterfowl migration.

The partnership will spend more than $655,000 to restore or enhance more than1,700 acres of degraded habitats. The goal of the partnership is to improve water management on the refuges and restore flow paths to wetlands that are important for public waterfowling. 

Restoration activities will include fencing, new water control structures and the removal of dilapidated infrastructure. As a result, managers can once again manipulate water levels to promote and sustain desired habitat conditions for migratory birds, including waterfowl.

According to Manager of Conservation Programs Martin Grenier, “Productivity of wetlands and infrastructure often degrades with time, due to natural processes. This results in wetlands that are less attractive to waterfowl.” 

To keep wetlands productive and functioning properly, Grenier says, it is imperative to replace infrastructure and periodically disturb vegetation.  This stimulates growth of desired wetland plants that waterfowl key on during the migration.

The San Luis Valley is an important migratory stopover for waterfowl during annual spring and fall migrations and part of DU’s Peaks to Prairie Initiative. The area is known for high densities of breeding ducks, particularly cinnamon teal, as well as spectacular views and great hunting opportunities.