Colorado has some of the country’s best outdoor recreation, and its National Forests are beloved by locals for the access they provide to unmatched hiking, climbing, mountain biking, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and exploring. Three of Colorado’s National Forests — the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison — are undergoing a process called Forest Planning.
Forest Planning might sound boring, but it's where wilderness and Wild & Scenic rivers come from, and it shapes decisions like where you can snowmobile or ski, and what lands can get leased to private interests like timber.
Forest Planning is a multi-year effort to plan for how the Forests should be taken care of for the next 20-25 years. The last time the Grand Mesa, Uncomaphgre, and Gunnison National Forests plans were updated was 1983 (!). Just think: these new plans could last another 30 years, so your feedback on where there should be more campgrounds, better trail construction, less road development, and more could outlast many members of Congress. The short video below is a great explainer on Forest Planning, if you’re curious.
Outdoor Alliance and our Colorado partners have submitted three rounds of comments to the Forest Service, most recently on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests scoping process. The goal of the scoping process is to collect feedback on proposed changes to the Forest Plan that assesses the big picture of how the Forests are best managed.
Outdoor Alliance shared the opportunity to submit comments to the Forest Service with its folks in Colorado (sign up here if you want to make sure to get reminders about future public comment periods). We also submitted a comment letter from Outdoor Alliance and our regional network in Colorado.
In brief, here’s what we had to say:
- It’s great to see the Forest Service recognizing how important outdoor recreation is on these forests, especially since recreation is world-renowned on the forests and valuable for residents and for businesses attracting employees in the region.
- We provided a geodatabase with information about climbing, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, and whitewater runs so that the Forest Service could see where all the outdoor recreation is, and better balance outdoor recreation with other needs and uses.
- Managing and improving outdoor recreation requires thinking about issues like noise, viewsheds, trail density, access to parking and trailheads, and sustainability and safety.
- Climate change should be a major consideration of the forest, and it particularly affects winter recreation.
You can read that document here or by clicking the letter at right. If you want to get involved to learn more about forest planning in Colorado, sign up here: