Collaborative, community-driven process
By Mark Reaman
Adding to its comment letter to the U.S. Forest concerning the scoping process for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest planning revision process, the Crested Butte Town Council wanted to make sure recent community planning efforts for nearby public lands was taken into consideration.
The council fully supported the idea of asking the Forest Service to consider the efforts of the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI) “to develop a community vision for local public lands” as part of any new forest plan.
GPLI director Maddie Rehn gave a history of the GPLI progress to the council at the April 16 meeting. “It is still a work in progress but there has been a lot of good work to come out of the group,” she said.
Rehn said the ultimate goal was to use a variety of methods including wilderness designations to protect public land in the area. Representatives of groups ranging from ranchers to environmentalists to mountain bikers and snowmobilers have toiled to come up with a working compromise.
“The ultimate goal is to achieve legislation but we are also working on an administrative level with the Forest Service,” explained Rehn. “So we are asking for the council’s acknowledgment and support of this local working group in the town’s comments to the scoping over the forest plan. We think the GPLI can help provide knowledge.”
“The GPLI is truly a collaborative, community-driven, science-based process,” the town’s letter states. “Utilizing landscape-level conservation designations and management emphases, the GPLI proposal promotes a balance between recreational, ecological, and economic values.”
“The consensus we reached is something we are all very proud of,” said Rehn. “It shows a unique level of depth. It doesn’t close trails, roads or popular riding areas. I think we did an inclusive job.”
The council members were all on board with supporting the GPLI and asking the Forest Service planners to include the GPLI proposal into the revised forest plan that will be included in the eventual Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).