With Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW, formerly the Division of Wildlife DOW) embarking on a major strategic planning process, a few trail advocates attended the Gunnison Sportsmen’s Roundtable hosted by CPW last week. The room at the CPW office was packed with passionate and experienced sportsmen from all over this valley, as well as leadership and staff from CPW.
But, before continuing, please consider reading the short article by Stacy Bare at this link: On Hunting and Sacred Space
Mr. Bare’s article is not a perfect comparison for our situation but it raises and discusses a similar topic. Okay, back to the meeting at CPW.
The conversation was 99% hunting with just a bit of fishing thrown in. Firmly on the agenda, the CPW strategic planning process was introduced, briefly addressed and, without further discussion, the next topic was quickly introduced. We had to pull the conversation back just to be able to make a statement about the planning process, which includes the topics of Colorado State Parks, wildlife and outdoor recreation, including trails and trail use.
We brought attention to the presence of trail users in the room and to the prominence of the topic of outdoor recreation, including trail use on all public lands, regardless of whether the lands are State, BLM, USFS, etc., as being central to the mission of CPW. This is a brand new element to many in our area, including CPW staff, since the merger of the DOW and Colorado State Parks a few years ago.
We also mentioned the idea that trail users and hunters weren’t all that different and that, as passionate users of the public lands in our valley, we felt like we should all work to expand our vision and understanding of other users of public lands and work together in assisting our land and wildlife managers.
Other than one negative comment, the room was quiet and the familiar topic of hunting quickly came back to the forefront.
Our main point is the suggestion that many of us live here for our access to the vast public lands. For some this means livelihood, for example ranchers and outfitters. For others it’s for recreation like hunting; hiking and running; riding mountain bikes, motos, ATV’s and side by sides; driving full size off-road vehicles; climbing; etc.
Call us optimistic, but at Gunnison Trails, we feel as though all of these different users and groups can work together in an effective, productive and civil manner, all the while making progress that keeps our valley special for the variety of residents and visitors that love this place.
Part of this will certainly mean that at times we may have to agree to disagree. But an overarching goal should be to never get to the point that we can’t face one another in our small community when our paths cross at the supermarket, hardware store, at school or community functions, etc.
As you can tell from the notes below, this topic and theme are front and center right now in our valley. How we all choose to approach these various processes may determine the course of our valley for years to come.
Stacy Bare will be speaking Monday February 23rd at 6pm in the Western State Colorado University Center Ballroom.
Please consider offering your comments on the CPW Strategic Planning Process. This is vital to future trail advocacy efforts in our valley, as well as statewide. Look for more information via email from Gunnison Trails on this soon.
Consider becoming familiar with the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI.) This is not a repackaged version of Hidden Gems and all users of public lands are encouraged to get involved in this process initiated by Senator Michael Bennet. Contact Hilary Henry for more information about the GPLI: firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a look at a new program called the One Valley Prosperity Project. At the heart of this new initiative is prosperity for citizens and planning for strategic economic development in our valley.
As always, contact Gunnison Trails anytime with your comments, suggestions and ideas.
Enjoy the Storm,
Gunnison Trails, Inc