Public Lands Program

The Gunnison Country! The name is synonymous with wind-swept mountains, rolling sagebrush hills, desolate canyons, clear mountain streams, and abundant wildlife. Part of the allure of this majestic landscape is its public lands, lands that are owned by all of us. In fact, over 80% of lands in Gunnison County are public, and with enjoyment of these lands comes responsibility. Since fighting a planned timber sale on Kebler Pass in the early 1980s, HCCA’s Public Lands Program has been protecting threatened landscapes, preventing harms to important ecosystems, and promoting sustainable enjoyment of the diverse public lands of the Gunnison Country. We invite you to help us in our mission!

Federal public lands are lands held in trust by the state or federal government for the American people. The primary constitutional authority for the management and control of this vast real-estate empire is the Property Clause (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2). Here in Gunnison County, public lands are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. These public lands cover more than 1.6 million acres and include portions of eight Wilderness Areas, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, numerous Inventoried Roadless Areas, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski terrain. They’re home to world-class populations of elk, mule deer, black bear, cutthroat trout, Gunnison Sage-grouse, and a dizzying array of wildflowers and forests. They provide outstanding quiet recreation experiences, whether it’s hiking and camping in remote wilderness, hunting and fishing in the backcountry, downhill and cross-country skiing, or exploring the high country for wildlife. These activities, which shape our local economy and quality of life, depend upon healthy, intact, and connected public lands.

HCCA’s Public Lands Program focuses on the public lands of the Gunnison Country, a geographic area encompassing the Gunnison and North Fork of the Gunnison watersheds. Our purview includes all of Gunnison County’s public lands, as well as parts of Hinsdale and Saguache Counties. HCCA ensures responsible management of the Gunnison Country’s public lands so we can continue to have clean water and clean air, healthy, diverse wildlife populations, and opportunities for quiet recreation. To achieve our goals, we collaborate as appropriate with agencies, ranchers, business owners, non-profits, recreationists, and others to ensure public lands are healthy and intact for generations to come. Together we better achieve the shared goals of a prosperous economy, conservation of our natural resources, and protection of our quality of life.

The Lay of the (Public) Land–An Update

We’re not going to mince words. 2017 was a tough year for public lands. From executive attacks on national monuments to the approval of coal mine expansions locally, it’s been an uphill battle to conserve and protect the lands and wildlife that mean so much to us and...
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Court Order Fails to Halt Colorado Coal Mine Expansion in Roadless Forest

A federal judge last Thursday denied an emergency request from conservation groups to halt coal mine exploration that could result in bulldozing two miles of road and constructing three well pads in roadless wildlands on the Gunnison National Forest. St. Louis-based...
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HCCA Challenges Gunnison County Coal Mine

If you care about public lands, climate change, or follow the work of High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA), you know that we’ve been fighting to stop expansion of the West Elk coal mine into Gunnison National Forest roadless lands for almost a decade. On Friday,...
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Contact Matt Reed

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Matt Reed

Matt Reed

Public Lands Director

Matt joined High Country Conservation Advocates as Public Lands Director in January 2016. Matt previously held this position from 2010-2013. He is a 2000 graduate of Gunnison High School and a 2009 graduate of Pace Law School, where he focused on environmental law and policy. Matt is a committed advocate for the public lands of Gunnison County and the Upper Gunnison River watershed, and looks forward to re-engaging with the community on sustainable energy development, recreation management, roadless and wilderness advocacy, wildlife, forest health an other critical public lands issues. Matt’s interests include birding, hiking, the U.S. Civil War, his vegetable garden and coffee.