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May 13, 2012 11:22 AM by Matt Stafford

Part of southern CO looked at for possible conservation area

ALAMOSA, Colo. (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing creating a 5.2 million-acre conservation area in south-central Colorado and northern New Mexico to protect wildlife habitat and migration corridors.

The agency proposes creating the San Luis Valley Conservation Area, which would encompass land in Saguache, Hinsdale, Mineral, Rio Grande, Alamosa, Costilla and Conejos counties in Colorado and Rio Arriba and Taos counties in New Mexico. The area also would include three national wildlife refuges in southern Colorado.

One part of the proposal suggests protecting up to 530,000 acres with conservation easements bought from willing sellers. That would keep the land under private ownership but prevent it from being developed.

The public has until June 8 to comment on a draft environmental assessment of the proposal.

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