In 2021, the Biden administration announced the “America the Beautiful” initiative, which establishes the goal of conserving 30% of lands and waters in the U.S. by 2030. The Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection (GORP) Act, proposed by Sen. Michael Bennet, is one step closer to making sure America’s lands are protected for our future generations.
Gunnison County is home to 1.7 million acres of public lands and some of the most beautiful views in Colorado. As Gunnison County saw an increase in tourism, community efforts began to draft a proposal that incorporated the fact that “public land recreation, conservation, hunting, fishing, and ranching form the fabric of the Gunnison Basin’s culture, economy, and way of life”. Eventually, the GORP Act was born from grassroots efforts that arose during the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative (GPLI), made up of 10 groups with several interests, including water conservation, ranching and mountain biking.
Photo: Bryce Bradford via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The GORP Act includes many important protections. For instance, there will be no more commercial timber or mine activities allowed in the protected areas. For the most part, no new trails will be developed to protect the deer and elk populations that have been declined. However, people will still be able to hike on the many existing trails to enjoy the landscapes.
The animals in Gunnison County need help and protection. The GORP Act proposes additional wilderness zones in mid-range elevation habitats which will allow us to protect more species. This will protect many important species, such as the Gunnison sage grouse.It will also give protection to previously endangered species who are slowly recovering, such as the Rocky Mountain elk.
Terry Ireland/USFWS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Mike Goad, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Senate must pass the GORP Act so that future generations can continue to protect, enjoy and thrive in some of the most pristine landscape that Colorado has to offer.
Photo: James St. John via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)