Adam Gall - Outfitter and Guide
To simply say “the GMUG National Forest matters to me” is akin to saying “oxygen matters to me.” The GMUG is entwined and rooted into nearly every aspect of not only my life but my family’s life as well. For starters, our small outfitting businesses, Timber to Table Guide Service and Dark Timber Outfitters, rely on permits that allow us to operate commercially on the GMUG. The wildlife that use the specific country we work in, as well as other wider-ranging portions of the GMUG, utilize migration corridors, calving grounds, summer feeding areas, and reliable water sources that have been around for a long time. The importance of maintaining the habitats where these wildlife use areas exist AND keeping these habitats connected is critical to the welfare of the wildlife species that live there. Our hunting outfit will come and go but what’s crucial above all else is that the plant and animal resources the GMUG is so blessed with remain healthy and strong in perpetuity.
The GMUG is an excellent working example of the “multi-use” precedent set by the National Forest Service: a cornucopia of recreation, livestock operations, commercial permittees like us, timber harvest, firewood gathering, and wildlife habitat all rolled into one amazing landscape. As Colorado’s human population continues to swell and more people seek the GMUG as a place to spend time, maintaining wildlife habitat becomes increasingly important but easy to overlook. Protecting wildlife habitat ultimately leads to all user groups benefitting from a balanced, healthy ecosystem that carries on for generations.
Craig Grother - Retired USFS
I have been fortunate to spend 20 years of my Forest Service career as the wildlife biologist on the Norwood and Ouray ranger districts caring for the land and serving the people. That career brought my family and I to this part of Western Colorado when our two children were just beginning grade school. As they grew up we spent much of our time camping, hiking, fishing, and backpacking the mountains and canyons surrounding our home. Hunting and fishing have always been a part of my life and a variety of faithful bird dogs have been a part of our family as well. As the kids grew older they hunted birds and big game with me, and that tradition is still carried on with my adult son and is now beginning to include my grandchildren as well.
The GMUG National Forests are one of the crown jewels in our Nation’s system of public lands. The public lands and waters within and adjacent to the GMUG provide an essential role in maintaining large, uninterrupted blocks of connected habitat and stream networks that are crucial to perpetuating our populations of wildlife and fish. They also provide us and future generations with the opportunity to explore our natural world and the privilege to hunt and fish in those wild places. Wild lands and wildlife are a precious resource and we must work together to retain those resources now and in perpetuity.
Eric Moyer - BHA Chapter Leader
The GMUG fuels my soul! I spend hundreds of hours on our amazing public spaces every year. I call myself a hunter gatherer but most of my time is spent recreating on the GMUG. As I enjoy a morning fire with wood harvested from the GMUG, I reflect on the years gone by. Hiking, biking, fishing, camping and hunting all take place on our GMUG. Simply put, the GMUG fuels my soul and keeps me focused on the next great adventure.
Leslie Kaminski - BHA Chapter Leader
I’d like to highlight the value the GMUG has had on my life personally by sharing two fond memories. In 2015, I purchased my first big game tag where I would be hunting elk in the Gunnison National Forest. I was new to hunting, new to the area and new to this very foreign idea of stepping off of the trail. These first few days of my very first hunt weren’t about harvesting an elk; rather it was a very personal and humbling experience of coming to grips with my discomfort in the woods along with my lack of fitness and skill. I had my behind handed to me during that hunt but more importantly, I was intrigued by the learning process. Still year after year, I step into the elk woods with more than just my hunting pack. I am prepared in spirit, principals and ethics and I uphold my truths no matter what the outcome. My time hunting elk is as precious as their habitat.
2020 brought me to the Uncompahgre National Forest but this time, during late spring. After weeks of waking at 5:30 AM to hunt, I was convinced that turkeys do not emerge during the morning hours. At this point I had only seen or heard turkeys between the hours of 12 and 6pm. We’d call, they’d answer, then radio silence. Not sure if I would ever get to witness a strutting tom and at this point harvesting one seemed impossible. The next day, I suggested getting up 15 minutes earlier, we hiked that morning again in the dark, we followed a waking bear and we sat in a beautiful spot on the forest floor watching the sky turn pink and orange. Breaking the silence and calm, we called, he answered and he came in. Then, in those next few moments my soul filled with gratitude for allowing this opportunity.
Spaces like the GMUG, allowed me to improve myself by providing an incredible experience. Additionally, the maintenance and continued improvements made to these areas will ensure protection of high priority habitat for species like elk and turkey. Spaces like these must be protected for wildlife populations so that the sportswomen who come after me can have the same quality experiences on the GMUG like I have.
John Chandler - BHA Chapter Leader
Tony Prendergast and Marianna Aley - Crawford & Paonia Colorado