The GPLI is the outgrowth of conversations that have been occurring throughout the county since 2012 about protecting public lands in and around the Gunnison Basin. At that time, Senator Bennet heard from the Gunnison community on proposals to protect local public lands and said, “any conversation about managing Gunnison County public lands must begin with the voices of the local community—those who live here, who know the land, and whose economic future depends on these areas”.
The GPLI originated as a collaborative among the Crested Butte Mountain Biking Association, Gunnison Trails, High Country Conservation Advocates, the International Mountain Biking Association, and The Wilderness Society. Soon after, in 2014, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and Trout Unlimited submitted proposals for potential public lands protections to Senator Bennet’s office. The Gunnison County Sno Trackers and the Gunnison O.H.V. Alliance of Trailriders (GOATs) submitted feedback on the GPLI proposal in 2014.
In light of the diverse interests expressed by these groups, the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners and US Senator Bennet’s Office encouraged the community to further work together to create a single proposal that would be representative of the community’s vision for the future of public lands in and around Gunnison County.
Recognizing the need for a collaborative conversation about public lands protection, the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners in support with Senator Bennet’s office convened the Gunnison Working Group for Public Lands (“the Working Group”) in early 2016.
To deepen and broaden the community conversation, the Working Group formed and was tasked with creating a single, consensus proposal encompassing aspects of the three original proposals and associated comments. The initial recommendations released in June 2017 were the result of that work to find consensus on a unified community proposal. The Working Group met monthly through February 2016 to June 2017 to craft a public lands proposal - based on consensus - that would protect community values, take into account the various needs of user groups, and provide long-lasting stability to important public lands in and around the Gunnison Basin.
The initial report was released in June of 2017 as the product of that work. The Working Group also agreed that, moving forward, all organizations would collaborate and together be a coalition under the name of Gunnison Public Lands Initiative.
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
Since the initial proposal was released, the GPLI has been engaging the community and diverse stakeholders in conversations about the initial proposal and what it would mean for the future of our local public lands. Most of the proposed land designations were met with support when the initial proposal was released. Some areas of improvement and suggested changes were identified through community feedback, and the GPLI has refined the proposal based on that input.
With that input, the GPLI is proud to recommend 452,221 acres of public lands based on consensus for protection in and around the Gunnison Basin, and looks forward to seeing these recommendations drafted into federal legislation.
The revised January 2019 report can be found HERE.