Location: Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge is located in an isolated valley along the Green River in northwest Colorado, 95 miles from Craig. The Utah-Colorado state line forms the western boundary, while Dinosaur National Monument borders the site on the south. The remainder of the land surrounding the site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Vegetative/natural features: The region is semi-arid, and receives less than 10 inches of precipitation a year. The green meadows and wetlands found along the river create an oasis in an otherwise semi-arid environment. The site consists of 1,245 acres of wetland habitat, 1,112 acres of riparian habitat, 1,906 acres of grassland, 7,930 acres of semidesert shrubland, and 1,083 acres of pinyon-juniper habitat. The Refuge contains two rare plants the Ute ladies-tresses orchid and Gibbens beardtoungue.
Historic features: The site contains three National Historic sites: the Lodore School built in 1911, the Two Bar Ranch, and the probable site of Fort Davy Crockett.
Ownership: Federal (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
In most years, "Tern Island" is the primary Least Tern nesting site in the state of Colorado. In fact, more Least Terns have nested and fledged at this site than at all other Colorado sites combined. Piping plovers have also nested here in the past (4 nests in 10 years), and may do so again in future dry years. The site serves as a significant migration and staging location for thousands of shorebirds, hundreds of gulls, and up to 100 Black and Forsters Terns.
The site provides habitat for approximately 222 species of birds. Migratory and breeding waterfowl and waterbirds use the wetlands, while migrating and breeding songbirds use the riparian habitat. Peak use of wetland habitat can total 20,000 waterbirds in spring and fall.
Historical significance: The refuge contains three national historic sites: Lodore School, erected in 1911, Two Bar Ranch, and the probable site of Fort Davy Crockett. Evidence of Fremont and Shoshone Indian presence is found on the refuge, and Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch also used the area.
Additional Species Info:
Weekly waterfowl surveys conducted annualy during the breeding season between 1979-1999 counted 963 breeding pairs, and >2,000 individuals. The remaining species counted were spotted during these weekly waterfowl surveys.
Weekly waterfowl surveys (undated) also indicate 963 breeding pairs of all waterfowl, with a max of over 2000.
The species listed above with no data records have no documented observations that we are aware of.
Serious threats: invasive/non-native plants; hydrologic changes.
The mid-1960s construction of Flaming Gorge Dam upstream from the refuge drastically changed the hydrologic regime of the Green River, causing damage to riparian habitats. The dam prevents annual flooding of the river, which historically created and maintained the wet meadows. The elimination of this flooding has resulted in a loss of fine textured soils and the intrusion of non-native vegetation. This may in turn affect the numbers and types of birds able to use this site.
Efforts to address threats: To compensate for the loss of waterfowl habitat created by the dam, refuge personnel pump river water, flooding fields to maintain approximately 6,000 acres of habitat. Refuge marshes are closed to visitors between March 1 and July 31 to reduce disturbance to nesting waterfowl.
The primary purpose of the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge is to provide nesting and migration habitat for Canada geese, ducks, and other migratory birds. It is a Colorado Watchable Wildlife site.
The region is semi-arid, and receives less than 10 inches of precipitation a year. The site consists of 1,245 acres of wetland habitat, 1,112 acres of riparian habitat, 1,906 acres of grassland, 7,930 acres of semidesert shrubland, and 1,083 acres of pinyon-juniper habitat. The Refuge contains two rare plants the Ute ladies-tresses orchid and Gibbens beardtoungue.