What has the SLV Ecosytem Council done to protect your public lands in 2021? – A lot !
The Crestone Eagle â¢ November 2021
by Zaylah Pearson Bon
For more than two decades, the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) has staunchly advocated for the protection of approximately 3.1 million acres of public land and natural resources that stretch across the San Luis Valley and its immediate surroundings. SLVEC is pleased to share some of the many projects that have carried our mission of protecting the environment into the year 2021. Note that the campaigns below are further anchored in our unwavering commitment to enrich the San Luis Valley in through unspoiled and well-connected landscapes that will support local ecosystems for the enjoyment of future generations.
Protect the rich culture and ecology of Rio Grande
Along its nearly 1,900 mile path, priceless cultural artifacts and ecological hotspots line the Rio Grande. In southern Colorado, this river is home to several endangered bird species, countless wildlife, native plants, and sensitive archeology that reflects 8,000 years of human history. In recognition of this precious resource, SLVEC is taking bold steps to inform policies that would grant long-term protection to the Rio Grande Corridor in Conejos and Costilla counties in Colorado. This year, we have collaborated with a number of expert scientists, the Conservation Lands Foundation and public land agencies to collect critical baseline inventory data, develop informative maps, research and publish reports, and convey ecological value. and cultural heritage of this region to the public. We continue to refine these necessary elements, develop an economic report and apply for funding that will make this project a successful campaign. The desired outcome of our efforts will ideally encourage the designation of this essential part of the Rio Grande as a National Conservation Area.
Wildlife corridors in Saguache County
Environmental groups across the country are joining together to fight the outrageous loss of nature in the United States by pledging to support actions that protect 30% of our waters and lands by 2030. One of the ways whose SLVEC is helping this initiative, known as the 30X30 Movement, is to encourage the increased designation of wildlife corridors in Saguache County. As proposed by County Commissioner Tom McCracken, we recently sent out an Action Alert asking our members to submit comments regarding the county’s resolution to support migration corridors and wildlife habitat in Saguache County. We were delighted to receive so much encouragement from many residents of Saguache County, showing that citizens understand the value of these corridors: improved motor vehicle safety, healthier wildlife populations, and healthier migratory habitats and behaviors, and more dynamic recreational opportunities. SLVEC plans to continue supporting efforts, such as this resolution, at the state and federal levels, that help create more connected and safer crossings for our state’s wildlife.
Push for the designation of wilderness in the Sangres
SLVEC’s board of directors is disappointed with the final decision report (ROD) of the fifteen-year review plan for the Rio Grande National Forest. SLVEC submitted 22 recommendations for wilderness / special use / or research designations, most of which were rejected. The Forest Service recommended an additional 47,000 acres of wilderness, almost entirely in the Sangres in their ROD. SLVEC will pursue the designation of Wilderness by Congress and has already been advised that Senator Bennet’s office is ready to support our efforts. In the meantime, the rest of the forest review plan ignores opportunities to protect critical habitat and species, especially in the San Juan Mountains, so our board is preparing. to challenge the rest of the plan in court. If we move forward, we will be represented by the Western Environmental Law Center. Stay tuned for future updates.
Updates on Wolf Creek Pass
Preserving highly productive wetlands, vital wildlife corridors for species such as the endangered Canadian lynx and pristine wilderness, SLVEC is committed to protecting the Wolf Creek Pass area. Since developers began threatening this critical region with plans to build a massive âvillageâ above the pass, SLVEC and its allies have responded with a series of lawsuits. The nearly 30-year challenge continues today. SLVEC and Friends of Wolf Creek are anxiously awaiting the final court ruling on whether developers will have access to US Forest Service lands, which would allow the project to continue. For a more complete history and update on the current case, please visit slvec.org.
Protect our water
SLVEC has a deep allegiance to keeping every drop of our groundwater in the San Luis Valley. Unfortunately, the current threat of massive trans-basin water diversion by Front Range Renewable Water Resources (RWR) investors is still present. By attending meetings, posting articles and updates to our website, and staying in touch with other important allies, the SLVEC team will continue to closely monitor this worrying project which would have adverse impacts on SLV ecosystems. Visit our blog page at slvec.org or protectsanluisvalleywater.com to learn more.
Our supporters may have noticed that SLVEC has made a lot of progress in our virtual world of outreach over the past year and a half. The monthly newsletters are carefully designed to keep readers up to date on our latest projects, local and regional environmental concerns / topics, and engage the public in our work. The development of Instagram and Facebook accounts also supported our mission and raised awareness among new audiences. Subscribe to our newsletter at [email protected] Follow us @slv_ec or search FB for San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council.
If you would like to show your appreciation or support for our projects, please consider following our social media, donating, or contacting us with volunteer interests: [email protected] For a complete catalog of past newsletters and blogs, visit the “News & Press” page on slvec.org.