The GMUG forest area

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests, managed as one large unit by the U.S. Forest Service, are in the process of receiving an updated management plan with the aid of public input. The management plan will impact topic areas like logging, grazing, recreation, and wildlife management for decades to come.

The plan covers more than 3.2 million acres of land, including critical headwaters for the southwest United States. The Forest Service is soliciting public comments until Nov. 26th. There are four possible paths proposed in the document: Alternative A (No Action), Alternative B (Blended), Alternative C (Active Management Emphasis), and Alternative D (Special Area Emphasis).

Lizzy Bauer, the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI) Community Organizer and the only paid staff member for GPLI, asks students to please review the GMUG forest plan and submit a comment in favor of GPLI. She emphasizes that comments should be direct and efficient, personalized to the commentor’s individual experience, knowledge, and interests, and clearly state the desired management outcomes. In this video, Bauer explains the process of finding the plan, getting informed, and commenting. 

The Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI) will hopefully be introduced in the Spring 2022 legislative session of the U.S. Senate, packaged with other public lands bills. Both Colorado senators are currently on board. The Initiative has been an ongoing community effort, and has included groups that typically oppose land management bills. According to Lizzy, GPLI “wanted those people to be a part of it, so that they could hear what everybody wanted.”

The bill advocates for more than 400,000 acres of public land to be categorized as Special Management Areas and Wilderness Areas to protect them in the face of increasing tourism. The bill was developed with a coalition of stakeholder nonprofits representing varying interest groups, including the Gunnison County Stockgrowers’ Association, High Country Conservation Advocates, Trout Unlimited, and the Gunnison County OHV Alliance of Trailriders, to name a few. 

Look out for future coverage of the GMUG forest plan and GPLI.