At the request of the U.S. Forest Service, Delta County Commissioners Doug Atchley, Mark Roeber and Don Suppes provided comments on the scoping document under development for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG).
They stated their appreciation for the opportunity to provide comment and said they look forward to working with the GMUG through the entire Forest Plan revision process.
The commissioners requested that the economic importance of the GMUG to local communities be specifically mentioned in the vision statement and supported throughout the document.
Delta County fully supports adaptive management and direction for the GMUG, stating "adaptive management" should be defined so it will allow for the monitoring to, in part, determine the direction. They recommend including in the adaptive management plan the flexibility to add the public as part of the joint monitoring of projects.
The commissioners state this approach should also be used across other disciplines, including recreation, timber and vegetation management. The efficacy of adaptive management will depend on monitoring of indicators that provide information on trend to learn whether the plan will have the intended impact.
Delta County agrees that recreation is a driver on the GMUG; however, it should not be put above other uses to the detriment of other economic drivers. Also, when the forest is managed for the conservation biological principles, the scenery will be provided for.
Delta County agrees with the timber management direction and encourages the same language be used for livestock grazing.
Delta County agrees with the focus on increasing water storage through expansion; however, the need to provide additional storage to address future needs should be in the GMUG forest plan. Expansion and new construction should receive equal billing in the plan.
Delta County agrees with adding major fiber optic lines and broadband infrastructure, and recommends including the ability to maintain ROW without significant NEPA roadblocks, and language that allows for perfection of easements.
The bullet concerning managing to not degrade air resources should be reworded to allow for temporary degradation of air quality resources for long-term forest health benefit. Timber management and harvest should be added to improve long-term air quality resources.
When addressing tools for providing biodiversity of plant and animal communities, Delta County recommends including vegetation management. An addition to the management options is the ability to mitigate so that the Overland Reservoir can be expanded.
"Minimizing wildlife and livestock conflict" does not mean that the livestock is the mitigation tool of choice.
A significant number of existing areas with restrictions are already in place, such as wilderness and roadless. These areas should be the basis for requested quiet recreation, backcountry and habitat needs. This would allow for greater flexibility and multiple-use on the remainder of the GMUG.