THE FOREST PLAN HAS BEEN RELEASED
On August 13, 2021 the U.S. Forest Service released its draft revised forest plan for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest. This initiated a 90-day comment period that will conclude on November 11th, 2021. Forest Plans provide a general framework to guide a national forest in managing its resources, goods and services. Because Forest Plans are usually revised every two decades, this process will likely shape management decisions and on-the-ground conditions for years to come. This is a critical opportunity for YOU to submit comments to the agency to help ensure that the revised forest plan contains new wilderness recommendations, strong protections for wildlife and other important resources, addresses climate change, and much, much more.
The draft plan presents four alternatives for the public to consider, each representing a different management emphasis. Alternative A is the no-action alternative, which simply reflects the current forest plan. Alternative B is the “blended” alternative that the Forest Service is leaning towards (also sometimes called the agency’s “preferred” alternative or “proposed action”, an update from the Working Draft released in 2019). Alternative C can be broadly described as the “active management emphasis” alternative, with no new wilderness allocations, more logging, less restrictive recreation, and more motorized settings. Alternative D can be broadly described as the “special area emphasis” alternative, with more wilderness allocations, fewer areas allocated for logging, more restrictive recreation management, and more non-motorized recreational settings.
WHAT TO ADVOCATE FOR IN THE DRAFT PLAN
WSCC began reviewing the draft plan when it was released. Positively, we support the significant increase in lands identified as Wildlife Management Areas (which will provide for some wildlife protection), the addition of Anthracite Creek to the Wild & Scenic River eligibility list, and the attention given in the plan to addressing recreation impacts. However, we think the Forest Service missed the boat when considering the lack of new wilderness recommendations, massive increase in lands suitable for timber harvest, the poor protection for rare wildlife species, and other issues. Substantial changes in the draft plan are thus needed. And that’s where you come in.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
Let the Delta County Commissioners Know What You Think
Our Delta County Commissioners have an incredible amount of influence over what the US Forest Service includes in this plan in Delta County. We need you to tell them that you care about seeing more Wilderness, increased protections for wildlife, and that the draft plan prioritized logging over conservation. Send Commissioner Koontz an email today (firstname.lastname@example.org) letting him know what you care about in the GMUG National Forest.
Attend an Open House
The US Forest Service is putting on a series of Zoom Open Houses for community members to attend. We need you to attend the Paonia Ranger District Open House on Tuesday, September 21st at 5 pm to ask the Forest Service staff some questions and let them know what you think of the plan.
Submit a comment
The USFS planning team will use the feedback to inform the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The formal comment period lasts for 90 days after the publication of the DEIS. The comment period for the DEIS closes on November 12th, 2021. Using the tools we have created at https://westernslopeconservation.org/gmug-forest-plan-revision/, you can submit a comment now to the US Forest Service.