For the third year in a row, Met Rec has partnered with Gunnison County, the National Forest Foundation and a variety of other local businesses and government entities to collaborate and help finance stewardship of our public and conserved lands; the Gunnison Stewardship Fund.
“The Gunnison Stewardship Fund is an innovative, bold partnership dedicated to sustaining and enhancing Gunnison County’s public and conserved lands. Its vision is to finance stewardship projects and support our economy by engaging people and leveraging resources to proactively protect our stated community values.” – National Forest Foundation
The impetus for a Gunnison Stewardship Fund came from the County’s Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee (STOR Committee). The STOR Committee was convened in 2017 to address the growing number of recreationists visiting our outdoor spaces. Gunnison County boasts over 2,000,000 acres of public land, equating to approximately 80% of the total land area.
These acres are home to over 750 miles of single-track trail, meandering stream corridors, high alpine lakes, and unmatched vistas. It’s no surprise that visitors and residents alike are drawn to the area’s offerings. As a result, Gunnison’s abundance of outdoor recreation offerings contributes substantially to the tourism economy. However, when natural resources are degraded and the quality of recreational experiences are perceived to decline, adaptive management is needed.
The National Forest Foundation specializes in establishing funding opportunities throughout the Country in support of action-oriented, on-the-ground or citizen-based monitoring projects that improve forest health and outdoor experiences on National Forests and Grasslands. The Gunnison Stewardship Fund was developed to meet the unique needs of Gunnison County. It is administered by the National Forest Foundation in close partnership with the Gunnison Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, the STOR Committee and the local fund contributors.
How the Gunnison Stewardship Fund Works
Contributions are made to the fund by local, regional and national businesses, local governments and other entities. The National Forest Foundation also matches some of the contributions with additional dollars. Since the fund’s inception, Met Rec has supported the effort by contributing $45,000. This includes $25,000 in 2018 towards the West Maroon Trailhead Improvement Project.
This year, Met Rec contributed $10,000 towards the Gunnison Stewardship Fund helping leverage funds to reach its $100,000+ goal. The 2020 funds have been allocated to support six priority stewardship projects and programs:
- The Crested Butte Conservation Corps– The Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association’s summer conservation corps will support the U.S. Forest Service Gunnison Ranger District from May through October by mitigating resource damage, performing trail maintenance, and by promoting a positive stewardship ethic to public land users.
- Gunnison Trails- Gunnison Trails’ full-time trail crew will perform maintenance at Hartman Rocks and throughout the Gunnison National Forest, San Isabel National Forest, and Rio Grande National Forest. Their efforts will extend into Wilderness areas outside Lake City, CO and at Signal Peak where their work to build 20 miles of new trail continues in partnership with the BLM Gunnison Field Office.
- Gunnison County, Shady Island River Park- Gunnison County will begin construction of the Shady Island River Park, a 10.5-acre parcel north of the City of Gunnison. The Park will host campsites, a picnic shelter and tables, restrooms, a nature play area, trails, fishing access, and a boat staging area.
- Crested Butte Land Trust- A new connector trail from the Land Trust’s conserved Gunsight Bridge property to the popular Oh-Be-Joyful campground will be constructed. The 0.75 mile-long connector trail will provide foot and bike trail connectivity from the Town of Crested Butte to the Oh-Be-Joyful Campground.
- Coal Creek Watershed Coalition- Together with the U.S. Forest Service Gunnison Ranger District, the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition will install a permanent vault toilet on U.S. Forest Service administered land in Washington Gulch.
- Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District- In collaboration with several community partners, the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District will continue the wet meadow restoration and resilience-building project to improve habitat and sustain land-based livelihoods in the Gunnison County.