Gunnison Gorge management pleases Wilderness Society

The Bureau of Land Management received a C-plus for its management of Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. The Wilderness Society issued the grade Wednesday in a report on management of Gunnison Gorge and 14 other national conservation areas.

Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area was last studied by The Wilderness Society in 2005.

“We’re pleased overall by what we’ve seen at Gunnison,” said Kevin Mack, the National Landscape System conservation director for The Wilderness Society.

The passing grade reflects the society’s belief that management is going in the right direction, Mack said.

In particular, the society praised the management reports that are made public.

The reports “are done in a way that you don’t have to be a policy wonk” to understand them, Mack said.

The BLM allows for a range of experiences by establishing management units that, for example, allow visitors to use off-road vehicles in some areas but not in others, Mack said. The BLM also has taken into consideration matters such as setting aside territory for the endangered Gunnison sage grouse.

The real issue, Mack said, is whether the BLM can translate its plans into reality on the ground, something The Wilderness Society hopes to study again in five years.

In the meantime, The Wilderness Society hopes to see the culture of managing conservation areas and national monuments “exported and used on BLM lands that aren’t necessarily in the landscape conservation system,” Mack said.


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