The Forest Service Seeks Comments on the GMUG Draft Wilderness Evaluation

On a scouting hike to Kelso Mesa in June, Andy Goldman joined Leah López of Western Colorado Alliance to enjoy spectacular views atop the cliffs overlooking North Fork of Escalante Creek.  Photo courtesy of Jim Riddell, Grand Junction.

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest is revising its Forest Plan. This Plan defines how the forest will be managed for the next 15 years or more. One important part of this plan is deciding which parts of the forest are recommended as Wilderness. The Forest Service recently evaluated the wilderness qualities of areas in the forest not currently protected as Wilderness. On August 6 they released the results of this evaluation and are looking for comments from the public.

Recommending an area as wilderness in the Forest Plan will help to protect biodiversity and preserve the natural beauty of the iconic landscapes in the GMUG National Forest. The GMUG includes places like the high mountains above Telluride that glow at sunset and the amazing wildflower areas near Crested Butte. They also include less well known areas such the red rock canyons at the headwaters of Escalante Creek in Kelso Mesa, the largest roadless area on the Uncompahgre Plateau.

Rocky Mountain Wild is helping a coalition of Conservation Organizations and the public to comment on the Draft Evaluation. Our expertise in mapping, biology, and public lands helps this coalition to guide the Forest Service to create a plan that protects biodiversity, natural beauty, and quiet recreation in the most undisturbed areas of the Forest.

The GMUG National Forest is requesting comments on the Draft Evaluation. Comments are due Wednesday, September 5th and can be submitted here.  If you are interested understanding the Wilderness process and how to write and submit effective comments, our colleague Matt Reed at High Country Conservation Advocates would love to help you out. Email Matt at matt@hccacb.org or call him at (303) 505-9917.