We are located located within the San Luis Valley (SLV) of Colorado. The SLV is classified as a cold desert with elevations ranging from 2286 to 2438 m. The climate is characterized by cool dry summers and cold winters, with average annual temperatures ranging from 340 C in the summer to -380 C during the winter. The area receives less than 20 cm of precipitation annually, most of which falls during the months of July and August. The growing season is short and variable, ranging from 90 to 100 days from late May to mid-September.
Specifically, the SLV is a large, flat intermountain basin bounded by the San Juan Mountains to the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the north and east. This basin extends approximately 196 km from Poncha Pass in the north to just beyond the New Mexico State line in the south. The SLV constitutes 7 % of the state’s land surface , and is composed of all or part of 9 counties; Alamosa, Rio Grande, Conejos, Costilla, Sagauche, Mineral, Archuleta, San Juan and Hinsdale. The Rio Grande has its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains and flows east to the SLV and then south to the New Mexico stateline.
Wetlands in the SLV vary greatly from playa lakes to backwater sloughs creating a heterogenous assemblage of habitat types that are available at different times throughout the year for a wide variety of wildlife.
The SLV is an important area for waterbirds within the Central Flyway along its western border and is the southernmost significant waterbird production area in Colorado. The majority of the Rocky Mountain population of Greater Sandhill Cranes utilize the SLV during their spring and fall migration. The area is important to a variety of other migratory birds during the spring and fall with sixty-nine waterbird species known to use the SLV during some period of their annual cycle.
The area supports a large variety of wildlife species dependent upon wetland and riparian areas for their various life cycle events such as elk, deer, and turkeys as well as amphibians such as the northern leopard frog.