The Gunnison Public Lands Initiative
The Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI) is a coalition of stakeholders from ten community groups with interests including ranching, water resources, motorized recreation, conservation, mountain biking, hunting, and angling. In 2019, after years of discussion with these groups and the public, the GPLI released its community proposal that provides a carefully vetted, deliberative vision for the future of local public lands in and around Gunnison County. The Western Slope Conservation Center, while not part of this coalition, has played a supporting role throughout the process, and is supportive of the work the coalition has done thus far.
The Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection (GORP) Act
Based on recommendations in the 2019 GPLI Proposal and grounded in an extensive multi-year community vetting process, draft legislation – the Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection Act (the “GORP Act”) – was released by Senator Michael Bennet’s office for public review in May, 2022. See below to read the legislation itself, check out the maps, and sign our support letter:
Sign on to our letter to support the GORP Act
Dear Senator Bennet,
Thank you for introducing the Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection Act to protect and enhance key public lands of Gunnison County. We appreciate your commitment to public lands conservation and we are supportive of this legislation. Places represented in the proposal are important to us in the North Fork Valley. While many of us may not live in Gunnison County, we owe much to the public lands just over the county line. Water that flows through the river and ditch systems of the North Fork, giving life to our small farms and ranches, begins in the upper watershed in Gunnison County. Big game like elk and mule deer utilize the valley floor in Delta County as winter habitat before traversing up the drainages and chutes to spend the summer in the West Elks and Raggeds.
Specifically, we wish to endorse the following areas of the Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection Act proposal:
- Beckwiths Special Management Area
- Horse Ranch Park Recreation Management Area
- Erickson Springs Wilderness Addition
- Munsey Creek Wildlife Conservation Area
- Lamborn Wilderness Addition
- In addition to the boundary drawn in the proposal map, we would like to endorse extending this boundary into Delta County around the upper tier Roadless area boundary in this area
In addition to these areas, we wish to show support for the inclusion in the final proposal of the following areas which are shown as “in discussion” in the discussion draft of the Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection Act bill:
- Clear Fork Special Management Area
- Pilot Knob Special Management Area
- Black Mesa Special Management Area
Finally, we would like to share with you our strong support for protecting additional lands in the North Fork Valley that have high conservation values. While we appreciate that the Gunnison Outdoor Resources Act is focused on Gunnison County, the North Fork landscape does not fall neatly into administrative boundaries. Places like the Electric Mountain, Turner Creek, and Flattops/Elk Park Roadless Areas exhibit high levels of wildlife conservation values and biodiversity, yet remain threatened due to increasing oil and gas development and drought. These landscapes have been advocated for in the Community Conservation Proposal, originally introduced to the US Forest Service during the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest plan revision process.
Permanent protection for these landscapes, and other valued public lands in the North Fork watershed within Delta County, would greatly benefit the community members, waterways, wildlife, and wilderness of the North Fork Valley and western slope of Colorado. We look forward to additional conversations with you and our local communities about the future of the North Fork.