Forest Planning in Colorado
American Whitewater is closely involved with Colorado’s National Forest Planning efforts. Nearly 68% of Colorado’s forests are Federally owned and managed as public land by the Forest Service (USFS) (47%), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (17%), and the National Park Service (NPS) (2%)(CSU, 2018). Public land management plans dictate regulations on resource extraction, development, grazing, public use restrictions, wildlife habitat, and federal river protections, among other aspects. While the majority of public land in Colorado is managed by either the Forest Service or the BLM, the revision process and public review process differs between the agencies and necessitates a different strategic approach. This is largely due to the fact that these two federal agencies are managed by two different U.S. Departments; the Department of Agriculture manages the USFS and the Department of the Interior manages the BLM. American Whitewater works with both agencies, however many of our current projects are through the USFS.
Many of Colorado’s rivers and creeks flow through National Forests and are directly impacted by their management actions; these management actions directly impact water quality, river access, and primitive recreation areas. Every 15 to 30 years, the USFS is required to revise their Management Plans and they are held to a stringent public input process. American Whitewater, in partnership with local and national organizations, such as Outdoor Alliance, works rigorously within the public input process to secure better protections for rivers and their surrounding environments. The Forest Planning Process is also one of the primary opportunities for incorporating additional river segments into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, affording maximum federal protections for generations to come. Through public outreach, data analysis, and strategic communications, American Whitewater aims to amplify your voice as a paddler and ensure that non-motorized boating opportunities and environmental health are prioritized in all current and future Forest Planning efforts.
We are currently involved in numerous Forest Planning initiatives around the State, including in the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre Gunnison Nat’l Forests, Pike and San Isabel Nat’l Forests, and the Rio Grande Nat’l Forest. Please follow the Associated News links to the right to learn more about our efforts in specific Forest Planning initiatives.
AW Comments on Colorado Nat'l Forest Wilderness Process
09/05/2018 - by Kestrel Kunz
Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer.
Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)
Help Us Determine the Economic Impact of Recreation in Colorado and Montana!
07/20/2018 - by Evan Stafford
Comments Needed on Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forests - Colorado
12/05/2017 - by Evan Stafford
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are revising their Forest Plan. 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. We need your involvement to protect important whitewater resources and the special landscapes throughout the Forests. Public Comments are due on the draft by December 8th.â€¨â€¨
The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.