You’ve likely heard the statistic that nearly 80% of the land in Gunnison County is public.  This statistic is tangible as it allows us to have high-quality access to rugged mountains, rolling sage-brush meadows, and flowing rivers.  It’s largely why you love it here!  As part of High Country Conservation Advocates efforts to protect the best of our public lands and defend the rest, we’re one of the many stakeholders in the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI).  GPLI is a community coalition that includes Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, Gunnison Trails, High Country Conservation Advocates, The Wilderness Society, as well as individual hunters and anglers.  Together, we’ve crafted a proposed community-based approach that would create greater protection for our clean water, clean air, and protect existing uses on our Gunnison County public lands.  This would be done through Special Management Areas as well as Wilderness designations in what is a well-balanced legislative proposal to keep our air and water clean, our local economy vibrant, and our heritage intact for generations to come.

As a Gunnison County resident or visitor, you know that public lands ―unless they are wilderness and subject to a mineral withdrawal― are not protected from mineral development.  Accordingly, on public lands that are not removed from the mineral estate, current wildlife, recreational, and ranching uses are at risk and could be displaced by industrial mineral development.  GPLI’s proposal works to remove this threat by including mineral withdrawals that would protect against future development on currently non-existent rights.  The result is that we better protect our clean water, clean air, robust wildlife populations, and all our local economies that depend on these characteristics – whether that is wildflower viewing, hunting, mountain biking, fly-fishing, or ranching.

To learn more about GPLI’s proposal and its community-stakeholder approach visit http://www.gunnisonpubliclands.org/.  We encourage you to take action to support this effort and provide feedback!  Contact HCCA’s Public Lands Director, Alli Melton, to learn additional ways you can support this community-based approach.  Join our efforts as stakeholders in this process to Protect Why You Love It Here!