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Get Educated on Winter Travel Management

Share the Slate believes in education. Not only do we believe that different winter recreation users need to understand one another’s needs and desires, we also believe that all winter recreation users need to become informed about the Winter Travel Management Process.

In the GMUG (Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests), the Winter Travel Management Process is supposed to begin in 2020. Even though that may seem far into the future, the date is quickly approaching. Yet, Winter Travel Management is a relatively new process which came out of the Over Snow Vehicle Ruling which became activated in February 2015. This ruling was in response to a group called Winter Wildlands Alliance suing the National Forest, requiring National Forests to include Winter Travel Management as part of their designations.

The panel discussion on the fourth night, where Brittany Konsella, our president, represented Share the Slate.

With the upcoming Winter Travel Management pending in 2020 for Gunnison National Forest, the need to become educated on the topic is especially important. In California, this is happening in the Lassen, Tahoe, Plumas, Stanislaus, and Eldorado National Forests. This same process is happening in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming and the Kootenia National Forest in Montana. Each forest is in a different stage in the Winter Travel Management Process and more information can be found on WWA’s Travel Planning page. These processes and rulings that result from the Winter Travel Planning in these forests will impact the processes in all forests in the future. So, we need to pay attention to what happens here!

While keeping an eye on those undergoing Winter Travel Planning, we also need to focus on how we can most positively impact our own Winter Travel Management process. In order to have the greatest impact, we all (both individuals and organizations) need to become educated on the issues and process at hand. The lecture series created as a partnership between the Gunnison National Forest and the Masters of Environmental Management Program at Western College University in Gunnison provided a great opportunity to start becoming educated on this topic. The goal of this post is to share the important information distributed at the lectures to you.

If you were unable to attend any or all of these lectures, the videos to the first three are provided below – and we will add the fourth when it is released. We highly recommend that each of you take time to watch each of these videos over the next coming months, as they provide some valuable information about Winter Travel Management. The more educated you are on this topic, the more informed you will be, allowing you to have a greater impact on the outcome. We hope that you will share your information to your networks both verbally and through your social media channels. Through education and awareness, we can continue to spread our message, and together have a strong showing when the Winter Travel Management process arrives to GMUG.

Lecture 1: USFS Models for Winter Recreation Planning (Thursday, Nov. 1, 208)

The first lecture takes a look into winter travel management planning on two different national forests. Jon Hare of White River National Forest and Steve Brigham of Rio Grande National Forest present two different USFS models for winter travel management planning – Vail Pass and Wolf Creek Pass. Lora Schmillen and Joe Laughlin of Gunnison National Forest also lend their voices to the discussion in talking about local considerations.

Lecture 2: National and Local Context for Winter Recreation Planning (Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018)

Why are land management agencies around the country now embarking on winter travel management planning processes? What approaches bring about successful outcomes in communities? The second session of the winter recreation series invites Hilary Eisen, of Winter Wildlands Alliance, and Gunnison County Commissioner Phil Chamberland to discuss why winter travel management is necessary, and how travel management planning can successfully engage communities, stakeholder groups, and local and national audiences in collaborative decision-making. In an era when social media shapes our communications, lawsuits play a dominant role in policy making, and the numbers and types of public land users seem to be ever increasing, conversations about public land use are often heated. Can winter travel planning ever be as calm and cool as a winter morning in the Rockies?

Lecture 3: Research Perspectives on Winter Recreation Planning (Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018)

This lecture highlights the research and knowledge-gathering behind winter travel management planning processes. In this lecture, White River National Forest’s forest ecologist Elizabeth Roberts and recreation planner Kay Hopkins speak about their study of winter travel and its human and ecological effects. The team shares ongoing research projects and discuss how research can meaningfully inform winter travel management planning. The lecture also features Dr. Melanie Armstrong from WCU as she talks about the different studies Western’s MEM students are doing to enhance our understanding of winter recreation here in the Gunnison Valley.

Lecture 4: Local User Group Reflections Panel Discussion (Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018)

The last session concludes with a panel discussion looking at different local perspectives on winter travel management planning. The panelists are:

  • Bill Oliver (Silent Tracks)
  • Chris Burandt (Burandt’s Backcountry Adventures)
  • Brittany Konsella (Share the Slate)
  • Brandon Diamond (Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
  • Moderator: Jon Miller (Backcountry United)

Discussion questions include:

  1. Briefly describe your winter recreational use and why you enjoy and value it. Historically, winter planning processes might be characterized as conversations about compromise as different users stake a claim to continue their current uses. How might you shift this conversation? Are there other approaches to managing for multiple use?
  2. What was your perspective on winter travel management before this series? Has your perspective changed during the course of this series? Were there any lessons that you would like to build off or avoid?
  3. What research could be done to inform your participation in winter travel management planning?
  4. Knowing that winter travel planning will occur in the future on the Gunnison National Forest, how would you like to see it proceed? Since conflict is inherent to the Winter Travel Management planning process how do we move forward past our different interests to create a product that is broadly supported and implementable?

The panelists engage in an an interesting discussion on what our community expects out of the winter travel management planning process.


Take Action

Now that you are better informed, we need you to spread the word about the importance of the the upcoming Winter Travel Management Planning process for GMUG. The outcome will impact how we recreate in winter in our own valley. Through conversations and social media, spread the message that each and every one of us needs to become educated on this topic in order to maximize our impact!

Get Educated on Winter Travel Management
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Get Educated on Winter Travel Management
Share the Slate believes that you need to become educated about the Winter Travel Management process so that we can have a greater impact on the outcome!

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