Recognizing the need for a collaborative conversation about public lands protection, the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners convened the Gunnison Working Group for Public Lands (“the Working Group”) in early 2016. The Working Group met monthly through February 2016 to June 2018 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 Gunnison County.
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.
The GPLI is the outgrowth of conversations that have been occurring throughout the county for the past six years around protecting public lands in and around the Gunnison Basin.
In 2012 U.S. Senator Michael Bennet heard from the Gunnison community on proposals to protect local public lands. At that time Senator Bennet 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 Gunnison Board of County Commissioners, along with Senator Michael Bennet’s Office, recognized the value in encouraging the community to work together to create a single proposal that would be representative community vision for the future of the County’s public lands. To expand the community conversation, the Working Group formed and was tasked with creating a single, consensus proposal that combined and found compromise between the three original proposals, previously submitted comments, and new information the Working Group gathered.
After meeting for seventeen consecutive months, the group crafted a unified consensus based proposal. The Working Group, now called the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative, presented that initial proposal to the communities of Gunnison County for discussion and vetting in June of 2017.