Gunnison National Forest Revision
The Gunnison National Forest, which comprises the area surrounding Crested Butte, is undergoing a forest-wide revision process. That process also includes the Grand Mesa and Uncompahgre national forests, and the three forests are collectively known as the “GMUG”. This is an ambitious and far-reaching process which will last years. Not only does the forest revision cover a large area, the revision also encompasses recreation aspects and tackles questions about mining, logging, and other activities.
The revision process is just beginning, and you can learn more by visiting the USFS website here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/gmug/landmanagement/planning. The revision process will serve as the “guide” for future USFS decisions, and that is why it is important that winter recreationalists that care about access for all user groups, like Share The Slate, need to take note of the process and make sure that our comments and suggestions are heard.
It is important to note that while the GMUG revision will not directly impact the upcoming winter travel management plan, the outcome of the revision will guide changes (if any) in winter travel management plan. The actual winter travel management plan will take place after the GMUG revision, and is what will directly affect the fate of recreation in the valleys surrounding Crested Butte, like the Slate River valley. For instance, if the GMUG revision favors conservation over other factors, including recreation, we will be more likely to lose winter access to our favorite valleys which will in turn impact the development of the winter travel management plan. Groups like Silent Tracks are already pushing hard for changes- search out the comments to see what they and others are saying.
What can I do?
–Comment! Submitting comments is easy and the only way to make sure that your voice is heard! Submit comments here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=51806
What should I say?
-Whatever you want, but our suggestion would be to make sure that the USFS knows that you believe the current winter travel management plan, also known as the Gang of Nine Decision, is working well and that no major changes are required. This will be a long process, so don’t be afraid to comment repeatedly as the process continues. Comments are already being taken on the website, and you can read about them here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//ReadingRoom?Project=51806.
GMUG is undergoing Wilderness Inventory
As part of the forest revision process, GMUG is now taking steps to determine what they suggest will become Wilderness in the future. GMUG themselves cannot designate Wilderness, but they can make recommendations to Congress who will ultimately make the Wilderness decision. Perhaps one of the most important parts about this process is what they take off the table for even suggesting to become Wilderness, and this can be impacted by public comment.
The Wilderness Process has 4 steps:
1) Gather Inventory – generally any roadless areas that are 5,000 acres or more or already border existing Wilderness is designated as an area for potential Wilderness. This does not mean it will become Wilderness, just that it’s a potential. These are the areas they have inventoried.
2) Evaluation – GMUG will then ‘evaluate the character of each inventoried area with feedback from the public. Some areas will undoubtedly have really low wilderness character, and others will be more “wild.”’ This is where we are now, and where public comments are still open (https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=NP-1810). Make sure to refer to specific areas in the Draft Wilderness Inventory Map when making your comments.
3) Analysis – GMUG will make preliminary wilderness recommendations (if any)and an environmental impact statement will be made. This will all be again available for the public and public comments are crucial.
4) Recommendation – The GMUG forest supervisor will ultimately make the decision on which areas to recommend as becoming Wilderness and will recommend that they be included in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS).
More information can be found in the Wilderness Guide.
Make Your Voice Heard
We at Share the Slate believe that you need to take the time to make your voice heard. Make your comments on both the overall GMUG forest revision as well as the Wilderness revision! Your comments could make the difference in the winter travel management in Crested Butte and surrounding areas!