Month: August 2015

North Fork National Forests. So what is a GMUG?

Crossposted at

Conservation & the Public Lands “Essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method”

America’s public lands are a national birthright, an exemplar of global conservation leadership, and a tremendous source of local pride and benefit.  In the North Fork Valley our National Forest lands are a testament to the foresight of leaders from more than a century ago, and the wisdom of our own forebears.

Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method. Theodore Roosevelt

The National Forest lands in the North Fork valley are mostly within the Gunnison National Forest, which is itself part of a larger ‘administrative unit’ of three individual forests often referred to as the ‘GMUG’ or Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forests.  Colorado has eleven National Forests, managed as 6 units.  As a single unit the GMUG is the largest. (However, the White River National Forest is the largest single National Forest in the state).

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Grand Jct. Sentinel, Editorial » Coal counties deserve help with transition

Coal counties deserve help with transition

Because coal is big in Western Colorado — as an abundant resource, a cheap way to generate electricity and a provider of good-paying jobs — President Obama’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions from power plants has more opposition here than other parts of the state.

The fact that Colorado has a voter-approved Renewable Portfolio Standard is proof that clean energy is important to Coloradans. In many ways, the coal industry has enjoyed the largesse of government policies favoring cheap electricity because it hasn’t been on the hook for spillover costs.

Not anymore. Any way you slice it, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce the amount of coal America burns to meet energy demands. Coal and its big carbon footprint are at odds with the climate objectives of the Obama administration.

The good news is that Colorado is well positioned to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan, and even profit from new technologies, as several environmental organizations told The Sentinel’s editorial board last week.

And the plan simply seizes on a direction America is headed anyway. Coal has been in a steady decline, in part because of a natural gas boom, but also because consumers like green energy. The low costs of coal-fired electrical generation don’t reflect other costs, like treating respiratory diseases from pollutants. Things important to the Western Slope, like agriculture, wildlife, orchards, vineyards, snowpack and runoff all stand to be impacted by climate change.

So, there are important reasons to support the plan. But we’re bothered that a shift in government policy can be so devestating to communities that have built their economies around coal mining and coal-fired plants.

The federal government is responsive to natural disasters. Shouldn’t it be just as responsive to economic disasters of its own making? The EPA plan will impact places like Moffat and Delta counties. How about the equivalent of FEMA money going to these places to diversify the economy? And any large-scale renewable projects like solar arrays should go there too.

Read full editorial here.