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Gunnison County Stewardship Fund 2020 Projects Enhance Trails, Public Lands, Waterways

The Gunnison County Stewardship Fund Project Selection Committee has allocated funding for several projects that will enhance public lands, waterways, and trails.

The Gunnison County Stewardship Fund, working in alignment with the Gunnison County Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee, is an innovative, bold partnership dedicated to sustaining and enhancing Gunnison County’s public and conserved lands. The Fund’s vision is to finance stewardship projects and support our economy by engaging people and leveraging resources to proactively protect stated community values.

One Apparatus Photography

The Gunnison County Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee (STOR), National Forest Foundation, USDA Forest Service, Crested Butte Mountain Resort/Vail Resorts, Eleven, Three Rivers Resort, Scenic River Tours, Gunnison Energy, Crested Butte Nordic, Mt. Emmons Mining Company, the Gunnison Metropolitan Recreation District and other partners launched the Fund in 2018 and continue to support it through customer and company-generated donations. The Fund would not be possibly without the generosity of the incredible funding partners!

For 2020, just over $111,000 was allocated by the Fund’s partners to help implement six priority projects:

Crested Butte Conservation Corps, a program of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Alliance will work alongside the Forest Service, Gunnison Ranger District to provide a robust field presence across Gunnison Ranger District lands from May through October. The Corps will mitigate resource damage, complete regular trail maintenance, educate users, and reduce impacts to Gunnison Valley public lands.

Gunnison Trails’ Professional Trail Crew will maintain and increase access to Gunnison basin trails on Bureau of Land Management and National Forest System lands, and will also collect seeds of native shrub and grass species for revegetation and habitat improvement.

Gunnison County will begin construction of Shady Island River Park, a river park and river access area that will eventually include nineteen campsites, a camp host, picnic shelters and tables, restrooms, trails, fishing access, kids nature play areas, and a boat staging area. The facility will serve residents and visitors of Gunnison Valley.

Crested Butte Land Trust will implement the Gunsight to Oh-Be-Joyful Connector Trail- Community Construction Project to connect the Lower Loops to the Oh-Be-Joyful (OBJ) Campground/ Recreation Area by constructing a roughly 0.75-mile non-motorized, natural surface connector trail to link the Land Trust’s Gunsight Bridge trailhead with the BLM’s OBJ Campground. With the construction of this connector trail, the Raggeds Wilderness, managed by the Forest Service would be accessible via non-motorized natural surface trails from Crested Butte.

The Coal Creek Watershed Coalition will coordinate with the Gunnison Ranger District to install a permanent vault toilet on Forest Service land in Washington Gulch. The toilet was donated by the Town of Crested Butte and will be refurbished and installed with support from the Stewardship Fund. The Gunnison Basin Wet Meadow Restoration Resilience Building Project will move forward with coordination from the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District to install restoration structures to benefit streams on lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and private landowners throughout the Gunnison Basin with the goal of improving habitat for wildlife, sustaining land-based livelihoods, and building ecosystem resilience to drought and climate change.

“With two years under our belt the stewardship fund has become a reliable expression of our community’s conservation ethic. The investments we’re able to make through the generosity of our fund partners and with the support of STOR and our friends at NFF are making concrete positive impacts on the ground, I’m excited to see how we can grow this effort in the years ahead”.

Matt McCombs Gunnison District Ranger

Mark Voegeli, Director of Mountain Operations for Crested Butte Mountain Resort, captured the committee’s sentiments. “It was a pleasure working with such a diverse group of stakeholders to come up with how this year’s funds would be distributed to meet the diverse needs of Gunnison County residents. I look forward to working with this group in the future to see how else we can continue to make a difference when it comes to protecting public lands here in Gunnison County.”

“The collaboration and partnership between the County, our public land managers and local business resilience are an instrumental aspect to Gunnison Energy’s personal performance and business goals. We are honored and proud to invest in the Gunnison Valley through our program with Western State University and the recreational lands and watersheds in the Valley managed by the Forest Service. The STOR Committee goals and the Gunnison Stewardship Fund is a rewarding investment for our company and the Valleys future. I find the beauty of nature, recreational opportunities and friendships I’m building in the Valley not only fulfilling for Gunnison Energy but a lifelong journey with a great community,” said Salar Nabavian, General Manager, Gunnison Energy.

"Given the Gunnison Stewardship Fund’s ability to leverage funding and support critical outdoor recreation and stewardship needs, we are delighted to serve as a partner in this very collaborative process,” said Hedda Peterson, District Manager, Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District.

Joe Lavorini, Gunnison County Stewardship Coordinator, added “The willingness of the community to work together to accomplish vital land conservation and sustainable recreation projects shows a dedication to protecting the lifestyle of the Gunnison Valley. The public should rest easy knowing this group of business and local government partners is working in the best interests of the community and the land.”

The partners look forward to expanding the Fund’s impact in future years. Local businesses and residents interested in getting involved or contributing to the Fund are encouraged to contact Joe Lavorini, Gunnison County Stewardship Coordinator, at