Collecting shed antlers for commercial use, an activity that can disturb Gunnison sage-grouse during their mating period, and also cause unnecessary harassment of deer and elk on winter range, has grown significantly during the last decade in the Gunnison area, reported Gunnison DOW Area Wildlife Manager J. Wenum. Violations could result in confiscation of antlers, a $68 fine and five penalty points against hunting and fishing privileges. “The Colorado Division of Wildlife takes the disturbance of wildlife species during the critical winter period very seriously,” Wenum said. Over the years, unscrupulous antler collectors have been observed chasing deer on foot and with snowmobiles, searching areas at night, and going onto private land without permission. Shed antler collection on public lands in Game Management Units 54, 55, 551, 66 and 67 is closed completely from Jan. 1 through March 14 annually. From March 15 through May 15, collecting is prohibited from sunset to 10 a.m. daily. The regulations were adopted by the Colorado Wildlife Commission and based on a collaborative petition submitted by the Gunnison Basin Sage Grouse Strategic Committee, Gunnison-area sportsmen and shed antler collectors. The DOW worked closely with those groups to develop the regulations. The period of the first closure (Jan. 1 to March 14) assures that deer herds and Gunnison sage-grouse are not harassed during the difficult winter months. The second closure period (March 15 to May 15) ensures that Gunnison sage-grouse are not disturbed during the critical early morning hours of their mating period. The closures will be strictly enforced. Collectors are advised to consult official sunset tables and to obtain accurate public lands maps. For more information, or to report violations or suspicious activity, call the DOW office in Gunnison at 970/641-7060. For more information, visit http://wildlife.state.co.us/news/index.asp?DivisionID=3 and http://wildlife.state.co.us.
Forest Service Seeks Comment on Baseline Studies
DELTA – The Gunnison Ranger District of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests is seeking public comment and input on a proposal by U.S. Energy Corp. to perform a variety of activities on National Forest System lands, including inventoried/recommended roadless areas. The proposal seeks to collect baseline data and information. Specifically, U.S. Energy wants to create a series of shallow test pits and boreholes; convert boreholes that intercept groundwater into monitoring wells; install stream-flow monitoring stations and continued monitoring; conduct hand-held seismic testing; and perform surface inventory and mapping of geological interests and hazards. These activities would likely occur between July and November but could extend into a second season. U.S. Energy has not proposed to conduct mining activities at this time.
“We are well-aware of the public concerns that exist regarding Mt. Emmons and U.S. Energy’s efforts,” said Gunnison District Ranger John Murphy. “That’s one reason why it’s important for interested citizens to become involved in the process and to provide their issues, concerns and information early on.
“We want to provide reasoned alternatives and environmental protections for the resources and to address public concerns to the degree that we can, consistent with the law in this environmental analysis,” he added.
U.S. Energy, the owner of patented claims and unpatented mining and mill site claims for a molybdenum deposit and lands located on/near Mt. Emmons, just west of Crested Butte, has requested authorization to gather information as part of a feasibility study. The information they wish to collect has been presented in a Plan of Operation (Mt. Emmons Geotechnical Baseline Studies, PoO). The Forest Service decision authority is limited to the imposition of reasonable terms and conditions to protect surface resources. United States mining laws (30 U.S.C. 21-54) confer a statutory right on holders of unpatented mining claims to enter upon the public lands to perform operations consisting of geotechnical work and water sampling.
The Forest Service plans to hold an information forum in association with scoping efforts in January in the Crested Butte area. Additional information about the proposed activities can be found on its website, http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/gmug/projects. Click on “View a Listing of all Projects” and choose the “Mt. Emmons Baseline Study Plan of Operations” link, or contact Jeff Burch at 970-874-6649, or John Murphy at 970-641-0471.