Gunnison Public Lands Initiative

In February 2016, the Gunnison County Board of County Commissioners, in collaboration with the office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, convened a community-based working group to explore the possibilities of additional public lands protections for Gunnison County. This working group hosted a public forum on June 20, 2017, at which it rolled out recommendations for area public lands protections, and invited the public to share thoughts and suggestions.

The goal of the working group, now known as the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI), is to protect public lands, enhance a strong and sustainable economy, and support historic uses of public lands in

Gunnison County. To accomplish this goal, the GPLI aims to create a successful legislative proposal for public land designations that is technically sound, includes public input and comments, and best serves the community and the public for future generations.

From February 2016 to June 2017, the GPLI met monthly to discuss a public lands proposal that will protect community values, take into account the various needs of user groups, and provide long lasting stability to key public lands in the Gunnison County area. The GPLI has crafted a unified, consensus-based proposal that includes using a combination of proposed wilderness areas and special management areas designations for portions of public lands in Gunnison County. To implement the designations, federal legislation is required.

“This community-based working group has dedicated more than a year to crafting a set of recommendations to respect existing land uses and preserve the public land for future generations,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said. “With many local contributions, the proposal reflects the community’s range of priorities for public land management. This is a great step forward for Gunnison

County and will serve as a valuable foundation as we continue to work towards crafting a bill.”

The GPLI coalition consists of representatives from ten organizations, including High Country Conservation Advocates, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, Gunnison County Sno-Trackers, Gunnison Valley O.H.V Alliance of Trailriders (GOATs), Gunnison County Stockgrowers Association, Gunnison Trails, The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, and the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.

After 17 months of discussion, hard-won compromises, and extensive research into public lands, the initial proposal is meant to give the Gunnison County community a solid and carefully vetted outline of what public lands legislation could include in Gunnison County. To view the GPLI Proposal and maps and to learn more about the process, visit https://www.gunnisonpubliclands.org/.

The GPLI recognizes that to fine-tune and improve this proposal, community feedback is crucial.

For more information please email info@gunnisonpubliclands.org or HCCA’s Public Lands Director at matt@hccacb.org.