How will this proposal impact recreation on public lands? Will any roads or trails be closed?

No roads or trails will be closed by the GPLI proposal. Existing trail use will remain essentially the same, and proposed trails will still have the opportunity to be built if approved by the land management agencies. Popular over-the-snow recreation areas will remain open, and quiet use will be preserved in areas that have high natural values.

How will this proposal impact water and ranching?

The GPLI recognizes the value of our water resources and local ranches in Gunnison County. The areas proposed for protection in the initial proposal, including wilderness and special management areas, will be subject to all valid existing rights.  All aspects of the proposal honors existing grazing permits, water rights and supporting facilities such as stock ponds, ditches and other permitted special uses, valid mining rights, outfitter and guide permits, and other existing infrastructure.

The GPLI intends that any future legislation stemming from this proposal would include the Congressional Grazing Guidelines, which clearly state that “there shall be no curtailment of grazing permits or privileges in an area simply because it is designated as wilderness.” These guidelines assure ranchers that their ability to graze and maintain their supporting facilities (e.g., head gates, ditches, stock tanks, and fences) will be protected – including water rights. The GPLI supports local ranching operations and has been careful to protect this use in the proposal.

How will this proposal address issues like resource damage, trail and travel management, grazing management, or permitting for outfitters?

While these are important management issues for public lands, the coalition focused specifically on the permanent protection of key public lands in Gunnison County.  The proposed designations will help focus management on key public lands for important recreational, cultural, natural, scientific, grazing and other values, but issues such as overuse, trail and travel management, grazing management, permitting for outfitters, and other land management decisions will continue to be addressed through the agencies’ land management planning processes based on public participation and appropriate analyses.

Grazing, outfitting permits, trail maintenance, and other activities will continue in all of the areas proposed for designation.

What does “Considered for Special Management Area and/or Wilderness, to be vetted with regional stakeholders” mean?

There are several potential areas for designation identified in the report as “Considered for Special Management Area and/or Wilderness, To Be Vetted With Regional Stakeholders”. These areas were recognized as key public lands in Gunnison County, but the coalition acknowledges the need to have a more in-depth conversation with regional stakeholders to fully understand on-the-ground conditions, appropriate boundaries and suitable designations.

How can I get involved in the GPLI or submit comment on the initial proposal?

The GPLI has released this proposal after months of discussion, hard-won compromises, and extensive research into Gunnison County public lands. This initial proposal is a reflection of that work, but also an invitation to the community to provide the GPLI with feedback.

If you want to get involved or have feedback on this proposal, please reach out to any member of the coalition or email your thoughts to info@gunnisonpubliclands.org.   

You can also submit comments here or sign our letter of support here.         

What are the next steps for this proposal?

The GPLI plans to collect feedback on this proposal from community members, local organizations, land management agencies, and state legislators throughout the summer of 2017. They will discuss any proposed revisions to the proposal in the fall. Eventually, the GPLI hopes to pass legislation, reflective of this proposal and the community’s wishes.