Colorado - The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forest (GMUG) is beginning a multi-year process to revise their Forest Plan and we need you to get involved! Public meetings started last month and there are many opportunities to comment through the planning process.
The new Forest Plan will dictate how recreation, wildlife habitats, watersheds, timber projects, grazing and more will be managed on the GMUG for the next 20-30 years. This is our chance to protect important recreation areas, potential Wild and Scenic Rivers and Wilderness Areas, sensitive natural resources, and other special landscapes throughout the forest. The first step in creating a new forest plan is to identify important concerns and opportunities through public meetings in local communities, which will help the Forest Service assess current conditions and provide a baseline to inform the next steps in the planning process.
Locals and visitors alike paddle, hike, climb, camp, bike, and ski in the GMUG. This recreational economy helps sustain to local communities and is a growing industry. Promoting sustainable, recreation-based jobs that attract young and diverse residents is the key to Colorado’s economic future.
Trails, recreation sites, and river access points are heavily used and in dire need of maintenance. Groups of active volunteers exist within local communities to help with this type of work, which needs to be better planned, coordinated, and executed.
The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) and the 2012 planning rule require the GMUG to inventory and evaluate rivers for eligibility for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS) during forest plan revision. All named rivers must be included. If an inventory of eligible rivers has been previously completed, the study process can be limited to rivers not previously evaluated for eligibility, and those with changed circumstances.
The GMUG conducted WSR eligibility studies in 2005 as part of the previous plan revision process. 19 river/stream segments were identified as eligible, but because the plan was never signed and implemented, no management direction for those segments was established.
Since the completion of the 2005 analysis, there are new criteria for evaluating WSRs. Because a new dataset is required to conduct the WSR study, the GMUG will likely find streams not identified in the 2005 effort that will need to be analyzed.
Only streams that were not analyzed during the 2005 analysis will be analyzed during forest plan revision, unless changing stream conditions warrant a new analysis.
Paddlers and river enthusiasts know rivers on the GMUG intimately, and can have a large impact on whether these rivers are classified as suitable for W&S designation. This is critical step to protecting rivers from future dams and diversions. Help us protect these rivers by attending a public meeting, and letting the Forest Service know what is valuable to you!
August 14 - Montrose - 5:30p.m. to 7:30p.m.
Montrose High Scool Cafeteria. 600 Selig Ave.
August 15 - Lake City - 4:30p.m. to 6:30p.m.
Lake City Community School, Common Space. 614 Silver St
August 17 - Saguache - 4:30p.m. to 6:30p.m.
Meeting Room at Road and Bridge 305 3 St.
August 20 - Telluride - 5:30p.m. to 7:30p.m.
Wilkinson Public Library, Program room. 100 W. Pacific Ave
The Forest Service follows a three-step W&S Study process:
Evaluate eligibility - Develop an inventory of rivers to be studied and a systematic approach to identifying outstandingly remarkable values. Evaluate eligibility based on free-flowing characteristics and the presence of outstandingly remarkable values.
Preliminary classification - Classify eligible rivers as wild, scenic, or recreational, based on the level of development of the shoreline and the watercourse, the level of access at the time the river is found eligible, and water quality.
Determine suitability - Assess the eligible river’s potential for inclusion in the NWSRS.