Wildlife area named to honor water leaders

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Here’s the release from Colorado Parks & Wildlife:

To pay tribute to two former community leaders who advocated for land and water conservation in the San Luis Valley, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has renamed a portion of the Rio Grande State Wildlife Area in their honor.

Doug Shriver and Ray Wright, native sons of the San Luis Valley who were farmers, conservationists and sportsmen, died together in an unfortunate winter accident in 2010.

The new Shriver-Wright State Wildlife Area, encompassing 121 acres, is on the western side of the Rio Grande State Wildlife Area near Monte Vista. Parks and Wildlife is working with the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust to develop the site as a watchable wildlife area, and as a place where people can learn about the convergence of water, agriculture and wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

“This important wildlife area on the Rio Grande is adjacent to a major agricultural area and shows how these two important land-uses coexist throughout the San Luis Valley,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager in Monte Vista. “The memorial established in this place is fitting for men who were farmers, sportsmen and leaders in the world of water.”

The San Luis Valley community is invited to a dedication ceremony at the site at 2:30 p.m., March 10 during the annual Monte Vista Crane Festival. The dedication is a joint effort of Parks and Wildlife and the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust.

“These men were an inspiration to our organization,” said Rio de la Vista, project coordinator for the land trust. “They provided much-needed guidance about the importance of keeping water connected to the land through our conservation efforts.”

Wright, who grew up in Monte Vista and lived in the area his whole life, served for many years as president of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and as a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Shriver, also a lifelong resident, was president of the Rio Grande Water Users Association, and served on the Colorado Groundwater Commission.

Besides their roots in agriculture, both were avid outdoorsmen and valued wildlife, de la Vista said.

The land trust, founded in 1999, is dedicated to preserving working ranches and farms, with a focus on the riparian zones along the Rio Grande throughout the San Luis Valley. With the participation of many partners through its Rio Grande Initiative, the trust has secured conservation easements on more than 22,000 acres of land encompassing 36 miles of the Rio Grande.

“This is a way that the community can come together to provide a special place where people can enjoy the river corridor and the wildlife that depends upon it, along with appreciating the precious water that sustains so much of what we all care about here,” de la Vista said.

Some state officials are scheduled to speak at the ceremony: John Salazar, a native of the valley and Colorado’s agricultural commissioner; Mike King, director of the state Department of Natural Resources; and Roxanne White, chief of staff for Gov. John Hickenlooper.

For more information about the dedication or to learn more about the land trust, see http://www.riograndelandtrust.org, or call its Del Norte office at 719-657-0800.

To learn more about Colorado’s state wildlife areas, see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/LandWater/StateWildlifeAreas/Pages/swa.aspx.

WHAT: Dedication of the new Shriver-Wright State Wildlife Area
WHEN: 2:30 p.m., Saturday, March 10
WHERE: Shriver-Wright State Wildlife Areas (west side of Rio Grande State Wildlife Area) East of Monte Vista, Rio Grande County Road 3E, just north of the Home Lake Veteran’s Home.
INFORMATION: 719-657-0800

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.

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