On Nov. 6, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests published a suite of draft assessments of its wide variety of resources and programs for a 30-day public comment period. A first step in the multi-year Forest Plan Revision process, the draft assessments attempt to snapshot current conditions on the forests and to identify if there is a need for change in management direction. The assessments rely on existing information, including best available science, and invite additional information and feedback about what the Forest Service should address in revising the Forest Plan. Over the summer, the GMUG co-hosted public open houses with the eight primary plan area counties to share draft information and collect input.
According to Samantha Staley, forest planner, "The assessment phase is the opportunity for the public to help identify what's going well and what's not going so well on the forests. Even if you can only carve out time to review one assessment, pick the one in which you have the most interest, and let us know if we are on track."
Scott Armentrout, forest supervisor, noted, "The assessments have shed further light on changes that we've all noticed, from the current bark beetle epidemic to the immense growth in recreation. After we hear back from the public and make revisions, we'll use these to launch the conversation: What needs to change at a strategic level? What is our shared vision for the GMUG into the future?"
The GMUG will host two webinars to provide an overview of the assessments' format and answer questions. One was scheduled Tuesday, Nov. 7; the other is Thursday, Nov. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the following website: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/gmug-500/.
Two additional draft assessments will be published for public comment in the coming months, including the assessment of wildlife, fish, and plant species on the forests.
The Forest Service will take three years to revise the plan. View updates at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/gmug/forestplan.