From Chris Canaly at San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (Edit and title it as necessary)
Added to this document by Scott M. at Mark J. and SLVEC request
Attention OLT wildlife corridor and landscape lovers;
Please find a moment to write a letter to the Rio Grande National Forest planning team regarding their twenty-year Forest Plan revision.
Attn: Forest Plan Revision
Dan Dallas, Supervisor
Rio Grande National Forest
1803 W. Highway 160
Monte Vista, CO 81144
The deadline for public input ends Friday, December 29th. This is your opportunity for public input regarding how the Rio Grande Forest surrounding Orient Land Trust will be managed over the next twenty critical years.
The San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC), your public lands advocacy organization located in Alamosa, makes the following recommendations for comments: (please express your own personal experience and use the following suggestions, when appropriate)
- Thank the Forest Service for already recommending 58,000 acres of wilderness in the following areas in the Sangres: Butterfly Creek-Miller Creek, Cotton Creek, Kit Carson Peak and Blanca Peak additions. These additions will effectively extend the wilderness to logical landscape boundaries to protect the scenic integrity and biodiversity of the stunning mountain backdrop and strengthen protection for the two most visited peaks in the Sangres.
- Express support for Alternative D, their most conservation focused alternative and, in particular, the conservation designations in that alternative. This includes an additional 285,000 acres recommended for wilderness in the San Juan mountains. In addition, Carnero and Jim Creek Native Fish Areas, Chama Basin Watershed Protection Area, the Spruce-Osier connectivity area and the expanded La Ventana Special Interest Area (SIA).
- Express why these areas are important to you.
For example: I support designation of these areas for several reasons. First, I want to make sure that the national forest provides good habitat for fish and wildlife, landscape level connectivity, and outstanding nature-based recreation. Recommending deserving places for wilderness will guarantee that certain places within the San Luis Valley continue to protect the solitary experience, and remain pristine and undeveloped.
- Establishing native fish protection areas with strong management requirements will help sustain and restore the native trout populations, so important when fish are increasingly stressed by climate change and human activities.
- The designations of the Chama Basin Watershed Protection Area will protect this remarkably scenic and unusual basin and the water it provides to New Mexico.
- Designating the Spruce-Osier wildlife corridor connecting the Carson National Forest and the Rio Grande National Forest will ensure deliberate management for wildlife movement and habitat connectivity.
- Lastly, designating the expanded La Ventana SIA will protect the larger footprint of a significant geologic landmark that also overlaps with areas identified by Colorado for unique and rare botanical values.
While San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council supports the array of recommended designations in Alternative D, please consider, at a minimum, recommending the following places for wilderness:
Wannamaker Creek-Deep Creek addition to the La Garita Wilderness (Saguache Ranger District). This addition includes five miles of the South Fork of Saguache Creek. The area is naturally appearing, and supports a broad diversity of aquatic and terrestrial habitats and contains a largely undisturbed hydrological regime. There are no vehicle routes or past management activities within the proposed wilderness addition.
Adams Fork Addition, Three Forks addition to South San Juan Wilderness (Conejos Peak Ranger District). The Adams Fork trail provides outstanding hiking, backpacking, horsepacking, angling, and backcountry hunting. The Adams Fork addition is a documented high use area for lynx and was part of one of the initial core areas lynx established after reintroduction. It also supports a recreation population of Rio Grande cutthroat trout.
Antora Meadows Recommended Wilderness is a critical area for regional wildlife connectivity and conservation that will help fill the largest gap in protected areas in the Southern Rockies between La Garita Wilderness on south and Collegiates and Sangres to the north. Protecting it will increase ecosystem functions currently under-represented in the wilderness system, as well as conservation of imperiled or at-risk species: Rio Grande cutthroat trout conservation population; and habitat for lynx, wolverine, and Mexican spotted owl. In addition, it's got lots of trails and is great for recreation.
Saguache Creek Recommended Wilderness is mainly grasslands and ponderosa pine, low-elevation ecosystems that desperately need more protection in the wilderness system. It also, like Antora Meadows, helps fill in major gaps in regional protected areas networks and offers outstanding recreation. The recommended area includes seven miles of an eligible wild river.
For more information, go to the Forest Service website:
For details on SLVEC recommendations: