GMUG Forest Plan Revision

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are currently working on a forest plan revision and are seeking your input on the direction to take our national forests for the next 30 years. Currently, the USFS is sifting through information to get a picture of current conditions and trends on the Forests.

The purpose of the forest plan is to ensure that national forests are sustainably managed for generations to come. Currently, we are in the assessment phase of the forest plan revision.

A Forest Plan consist of  three phases:

1) Assessment, 2) Revision, 3) Monitoring:

Assessment: During this phase the forest managers evaluate broad topics such as air, soil, and water resources; recreation opportunities; and historical resources and uses. We collaboratively will identify and evaluate existing economic, social, and ecological conditions of your forest.
Revision or Plan Development: Plan development uses the information from the assessment together with input from the public and other entities gathered through comments, collaboration, tribal consultation, and other opportunities for engagement to revise a forest plan.
Monitoring: Monitoring information helps managers determine whether they need to propose amending or revising the plan. This phase is ongoing.

There are many different areas of forest planning. You can learn more about each here. Below is some information we think you might find interesting.

Recreation

Issues, Challenges & Opportunities

  • Variety of settings that offer a variety of experiences- i.e., providing trails that offer different degrees of challenge for different uses in different settings presents a unique challenge
  • Balancing act of providing new trails, facilities, and opportunities while avoiding the perception of crowding or impact other resources
  • Recreation use conflicts and incompatibilities – Competition for space to achieve different types of experiences (i.e., solitude v. close proximity to others, or non-motorized use v. motorized use)
  • Displacement of general visitors during recreation events, particularly in areas already experiencing high use (i.e., non-racers or hikers being displaced from trails in use for mountain bike competitions)
  • Impacts from camping- Better equipment (RV’s, trailers, larger tents, etc.) and more user-created camping sites are decreasing the element of “roughing it” and encouraging more use. Improved roads also allow for easier access to previously inaccessible areas.
  • UTV use is increasing- These vehicles are too wide for standardized trails. Geographic constraints and other use conflicts could also limit the ability to facilitate UTV use.
  • Updating management tools, such as the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) and Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) Suitability, would aim to minimize conflict between motorized and non-motorized use in all seasons. These determinations would guide future Travel Management decisions.
  • Integrating vegetation, weed, aquatic, and other resource management goals could help decrease on-ground and in-water impacts from recreation.
  • Developing “middle ground” recreation sites could address issues related to over-used and under-used sites (i.e., adding modest amenities to popular sites with no amenities, and/or removing amenities at less-used sites).
  • Sustaining a strong volunteer participation rate and leveraging partnerships could increase capacity.

Potential Need for Change

  • Identify strategies to manage camping and facilities to support recreation activities in areas of high use.
  • Address the current conditions and increasing use of the existing road, trail, and support systems (design, use designations, maintenance, erosion issues, etc.), and explore the need for additional capacity.
  • Update management tools- Develop a desired Recreation Opportunity Spectrum, Scenic Integrity Objectives, and Over-Snow Suitability determinations. Forest staff use these tools to manage recreation, scenery, and over-snow vehicle use.
  • Increase fiscal capacity by working with more partners and volunteers.

How Can You Help

  • What about recreating on GMUG lands is important to you?
  • How would you describe current conditions?
  • What changes (good and bad) have you noticed over time?
  • What kinds of facilities would allow you to enjoy recreating on the GMUG that aren’t currently available, or aren’t available at the times or places you’d like them to be?
  • What are the activities you enjoy the most on the GMUG, and where do you like to do those activities?
  • What kinds of things bother you when you are recreating on the GMUG, and where does this typically occur?
  • Do you have any information that we should consider?
  • Are you interested in volunteer opportunities?

Read more about recreation here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd552190.pdf

Landownership, Use and Access

Issues, Challenges & Opportunities

  • Increased recreation use adjacent to private property has led to concerns raised by the property owners of trespass and impacts to their land.
  • High cost of housing in mountain resort communities encouraging people to reside on the GMUG, impacting forest resources and neighboring communities.
  • Some roads and trails that have been open to public use are being closed by private property owners, due to high use and behaviors impacting neighboring private lands.
  • There is a greater need to clarify road jurisdiction, primarily between the Forest Service and counties, to ensure clear understanding of responsibilities and more efficiently manage the public road system.

Potential Need for Change
Provide criteria and direction to address key issues, including:

  • Prioritizing land acquisitions to target areas with potential public benefit, including inholdings in sensitive areas and for congressionally designated trails
  • Addressing areas with high conflict between public and private lands, including considering whether such areas are appropriate for some kinds of recreation
  • Addressing enforcement of camping orders to reduce impacts to forest resources and neighboring communities

How Can You Help

  • Provide information on areas of the GMUG that are in need of better public access via roads or trails.
  • Provide input on how the revised plan may be able to address some of the key issues.

How Can You Help?

  • Be an active stakeholder in developing a future vision for the GMUG. Your input will help develop plan direction that will provide for healthy, diverse and productive forests in addition to the many benefits and uses desired by local communities and visitors.
  • Comment!
    • You can submit a comment to gmugforestplan@fs.fed.us
    • You can mail a comment to: 2250 South Main St., Delta, CO 81416

Learn more and stay up to date with everything here.

 

 

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