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

Within the current areas of agreement, no roads or trails will be closed by the GPLI proposal. Existing trail use in these area would not be changed by the GPLI proposal and certain future trails can still be considered for construction and management through standard agency decision making by the BLM and Forest Service. The GPLI worked diligently to balance interests in motorized, mechanized, and quiet recreational uses.

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 GPLI, including wilderness and special management areas, will be subject to all valid existing rights. All aspects of the proposal honor 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 1 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 GPLI focused specifically on the permanent protection of key public lands in and around 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.

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

What does “Areas in Discussion” mean?

There were several potential areas for designation identified in the initial report as “Considered for Special Management Area and/or Wilderness, to be vetted with regional communities”. These are areas in and around the Gunnison Basin that GPLI is evaluating and discussing. These mostly include landscapes where a trail system, watershed, river, stream, or geographic formation crosses political lines. The GPLI has long acknowledged the need to have a more in-depth conversations with regional stakeholders and counties about these areas to fully understand on-the-ground conditions, ideas related to local values, concerns and land uses, and potential ideas for suitable designations that would have support in the surrounding areas.

Over the past year, the GPLI has been consulting with regional stakeholders for these areas and continues to work on public participation and appropriate analyses. The GPLI will continue to work with regional stakeholders toward final recommendations for these areas in the months ahead. These areas remain under discussion and may or may not be included in the GPLI’s final proposal.

What does “ Areas considered, not included at this time” mean?

There were several potential areas for designation identified in the initial report as “Considered for Special Management Area and/or Wilderness, to be vetted with regional communities”. Some of those remain ‘Areas in Discussion’ but the GPLI has decided not to include others in the proposal at this time. These areas have not been included at this time for a variety of reasons, such as uncertainty over future management, the need for a longer-term engagement with local communities, or unresolved management objectives.

As such, the GPLI will not be pursuing these areas in its recommendations. The GPLI is open to consideration of these proposals in the future if the dynamics change and a well vetted and broadly supported recommendation is developed.

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

The GPLI is releasing this revised proposal after years of discussion, hard-won compromises, robust public outreach, and extensive research into Gunnison County public lands. This proposal is a reflection of that work.

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 continue to engage the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, participate in the GMUG land management plan revision process and begin the process of developing a legislative proposal that includes the ‘Areas of Agreement’. There is still going conversations regarding the ‘Areas in Discussion’.