Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest Plan
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest covers more than 3 million acres spanning the Grand Mesa, the southern flanks of the Elk Mountains, the Uncompahgre Plateau and the northern San Juan Mountains.
The Forest Service is expected to begin revising the GMUG Forest Plan in spring or summer 2016. This is a high-stakes process that offers tremendous opportunities for conservation – but also considerable risk of losing ground if we don’t intervene effectively – as the plan will guide the Forest’s decisions on recreation, oil and gas development, wildlife habitat and more over a 20-plus-year period.
The process begins with the “assessment” phase, a new step in Forest Service planning. During this phase, the public can submit new science, reports and other substantial information to the FS before they even publish an intent to act. This will be the conservation community’s first opportunity to influence the fundamental direction of the plan – to ensure that the Forest gives fair weight to wildlife, recreation, water and air quality, and forest integrity, alongside the predictable pressures of oil and gas development, logging and road-building.
But this process is not only about playing defense. It provides us with a vehicle for advocating for a long-term vision of proactively protecting much of the GMUG through a variety of conservation tools and designations.
And fortunately, we have a solid foundation on which to build this vision. This is actually the second time around for this Forest Plan revision; the GMUG went through nearly the entire process back in 2005-09, before it was rendered invalid due to a national overhaul of Forest Service procedures. But in preparation for that process, a coalition of conservation groups, including WCC, developed a rigorous, detailed proposal for the GMUG called the Mountains to Mesas Conservation Management Alternative. The “M2M” proposal will serve as our inspiration and our technical baseline as we and our partners go into this process.
Want to know more? Contact Emily Hornback at [email protected] or 970-256-7650.