170,000 Acres in the San Luis Valley Now Under Conservation Deal

September 17, 2012

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced a deal that will permanently protect nearly 170,000 acres of land in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Dubbed the Sangre de Christo Conservation Area, the new national wildlife refuge is in part on a large private ranch. KUNC’s Kirk Siegler reports.

Once completed, the Sangre de Christo Conservation area will encompass more than 265 square miles of protected land – from the eastern range lands of the San Luis Valley to the steep slopes of the namesake ‘blood of Christ’ mountains. It’s also the childhood home of Ken Salazar, who announced the deal Friday in the sunny atrium of the new Colorado History museum.

"With this announcement today, the southern Rockies really joins the league of the greatest landscapes of America."

The new wildlife refuge is largely possible because of conservationist and billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, who owns Colorado’s largest private holding, the Trinchera Ranch. He’s placing almost all of its 81,000 acres in a conservation easement, and has similar plans for his Blanca Ranch nearby. Unlike many national wildlife refuges, most of this one won’t be open to the public.