GMUG National Forest Needs Your Input By June 2

Scenic View of the GMUG National Forest, USFS Photo by P. Owens.

The Forest Service want us, the public, to tell them how to manage to Grand-Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest in Western Colorado. Your comments will let them know that they should manage this amazing, diverse landscape to protect animals and plants and the places they need to thrive.

Background

The GMUG is a sprawling set of three National Forests in western Colorado that are managed as a single unit. These forests include iconic landscapes 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.

The GMUG is revising its management plan. This document determines how the forest will be managed for the next 20 years or more. The plan guides what areas the forest can be developed and what areas will remain natural. It guides the Forest Service on how to manage rare and endangered animals and plants.  The current version of the management plan was completed in 1983. Think about how much our use of National Forests and scientific understanding has changed in the last 34 years.

The current stage of the Forest Plan Revision Process started April 3, 2018 and is called scoping. The National Environmental Policy Act provides the scoping period as an opportunity for the public to be involved before they create an Environmental Impact Statement analyzing the environmental effects of various approaches to managing the forest. There is more information about how GMUG is implementing the scoping process on their Forest Plan Revision Scoping webpage. Rocky Mountain Wild, as part of the conservation community, wants to make sure that the Forest Service creates a  science-based conservation oriented forest plan that serves the needs of the local community and visitors to the forest for the next twenty years and beyond.

What To Do

Submit comments to the GMUG National Forest by Saturday, June 2nd using the Online Comment Tool.

Write comments that are personal and specific. If you have visited the forest, tell them what you appreciate about it (personal). Include one or more of the following talking points, in your own words, in your comments (specific):

  • That they must manage the forest to protect plant and animal species and the natural habitats they need to survive.
  • That the best way to protect species and habitats is to recommend additional lands for Wilderness designation and to protect other areas as Special Interest Areas that focus on habitat protection
  • That you support two proposals that recommend specific areas for protection. These proposals were put together by diverse coalitions of conservation voices and local interest:
  • That strong standards and guidelines are essential to maintain a healthy resilient forest
  • That the plan must include strong protections for at-risk animals and plants including
    • Birds: American white pelican, bald eagle, burrowing owl, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, ferruginous hawk, gray vireo, Gunnison sage-grouse, greater sandhill crane, western purple martin
    • Fish: Colorado river cutthroat trout, roundtail chub
    • Mammals: kit fox, river otter
    • Plants: Cathedral Bluff meadow-rue (Thalictrum heliophilum), Colorado desert-parsley (Lomatium concinnum), cushion bladderpod (Physaria pulvinata), Debeque milkvetch (Astragalus debequaeus), Rocky Mountain thistle (Cirsium perplexans), Rollins’ twinpod (Physaria rollinsii)
  • That landscape-level conservation is critical as it allows the forest to adapt to changes
  • That the Forest Service should disallow oil and gas development in places where development will harm the natural environment and interfere with recreation and scenery

Need Help?

Email Alison Gallensky and I’ll be happy to help walk you through the process.