The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (also called the GMUG National Forest) in western Colorado contain outdoor recreation opportunities that are truly world class. If you’ve every navigated a Jeep to the top of Black Bear Pass in the heart of the San Juans, or if you’ve ever opened the throttle on a snowmobile through the open snowdrifts on top of the Grand Mesa, or even if you’ve simply disappeared into the Uncompahgre forest to camp in an RV as the aspen are showing off their fall colors then you’ve had the GMUG Experience. If you haven’t made your way to the GMUG yet, then you should absolutely put it on your bucket list.’
The GMUG is currently revising their forest plan, and as we’re seeing with so many plans currently being released by land management agencies, there is a serious risk that many of the popular areas in the GMUG could be closed to public access. You can find an overview of the current draft plan here. The Forest Service is accepting public comments on the draft plan until November 12, 2021. You can find an action alert at the bottom of this page that makes it easy for you to submit your comment.
Our team has been attending as many of the public meetings about the plan as we can. Here are screenshots of the attendees of the Zoom meeting to show you the kinds of groups that are participating in the process:
The good news is we have several allies in Colorado who are fighting hard to keep recreation access open in the GMUG. Colorado Offroad Trail Defenders, CORE, Colorado TPA, COHVCO, Colorado Snowmobile Association, and Thunder Mountain Wheelers Club have all spent time briefing us on serious issues with this plan. The wilderness and anti-access groups have also been attending all the meetings just as we have.
Those of us who support continued access to these forests need to vigorously oppose Alternative D in the plan. Quite simply, this alternative will close too many popular roads and trails to count, but they include popular trails such as Black Bear Pass, Imogene Pass, Ophir Pass, and Poughkeepsie Gulch. We will be releasing more information on our social media channels and membership lists to explain some of the more detailed problems with this Alternative D, and why you should be supporting a blend of Alternatives B & C. We will also discuss some of the specific issues in play related to winter recreation, dispersed camping, drone use, and of course the trails.
For an illustration of why your comments are important, we recently received the final plan for the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana and 118 total comments were received on that plan from all user groups. We recently enlisted the help of our members for the Manti La-Sal comment period and together we helped mobilize over 300 supporters of recreation access to submit comments for that forest. When we show up as a unified force of organized groups backed with hundreds of individual comments, we send a strong signal to the Forest Service that they need to take our concerns seriously. If we’re being honest, we know if you help us spread the word about this, we can easily get thousands of people engaged. If we show up with strength and good feedback, we are confident we can steer the direction of this plan into a good direction.