The varied ecosystems in this area provide habitat for populations of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, beaver, hawks, eagles, grouse, song birds, several species of trout, and many more. The State Division of Wildlife is responsible for managing the actual animal populations including hunting seasons and licenses, while the BLM is responsible for the habitat. Working together, we provide protection for endangered species, opportunities for hunting , fishing , bird watching , scientific research, and wildlife viewing.
Most of the Resource Area is broken down into 122 grazing allotments that provide about 34,000 Animal Unit Months of forage for domestic cattle, sheep, and horses. Through a variety of vegetation studies and management practices we work to balance grazing use with wildlife needs, the protection of riparian areas, and the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. The Range program also takes the lead on controlling invasive weeds in the area.
About 9 percent of the area we manage is designated Wilderness and managed to preserve healthy ecosystems, native wildlife and natural processes. In these areas, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy primitive outdoor recreation on foot or horseback. In addition, another 9 percent is in Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) that have been recommended to Congress for wilderness designation. We manage these areas to preserve their wilderness character until Congress decides whether they should be designated.
Geothermal Lease Nomination Analysis - Lease sale held Feb. 9, 2012
The Gunnison Field Office manages approximately 600,000 acres of public lands (federal surface and mineral estates) and an additional 250,000 acres (approximately) of split estate (private surface and federal minerals). Withdrawn and segregated lands may be closed to one, two or all three of the following categories, subject to valid existing rights at the date of the withdrawal/segregation. Minerals available for disposal are divided into 3 categories:
1- Leasable – these minerals include both energy (coal) and non-energy (sodium, potassium) minerals.
2- Locatable – these minerals include gold, silver, copper and other minerals possessing unique and special characteristics (uncommon varieties). These are regulated by the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended and BLM’s regulations can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 3700 and 3800 series. All mining claims must be recorded in the county of location and with the BLM’s Colorado State Office in Lakewood, CO. Do not file your mining claims at the local BLM Field Office or District Offices.
3- Salable – these minerals include common varieties of sand, gravel, decorative stone, clays, riprap and fill materials. Disposals of these types of materials are discretionary in nature and under most conditions subject to cost recovery.
Leasable, locatable and salable minerals disposals from split estate lands have different rules for disposal based on the original type of patent that was issued for the surface and the patent reservations included.
Petrified wood may be collected free of charge, subject to the following limits and rules (43 CFR §3622.4):
- Maximum quantity: 25 lbs. plus one piece per person per day with an annual limit of 250 lbs.
- Cannot pool limits between people to obtain pieces larger than 250 lbs.
- Cannot use heavy equipment to excavate or remove pieces.
- Petrified wood collected is for personal use only and cannot be sold or bartered to commercial dealers.
- Collection will be done in a manner to ensure public safety and not cause environmental damage.
Common varieties of invertebrate fossils may be collected for personal use. Vertebrate fossils cannot be collected for personal use; these include dinosaurs, birds and all other vertebrate animals.
Additionally, the State of Colorado, Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety have requirements for mining within the State of Colorado. Information can be found at http://mining.state.co.us/
Cultural Resource Management
The Gunnison Field Office contains a large quantity of cultural resources, covering the entire range of human occupation in North America (about 12,000 years ago to historical times). Sites of Paleo-Indian age through historic times are spread throughout the landscape, from mesa tops to drainages, from the lower elevation sagebrush environments up to timberline and above in the southern parts of the field office. The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway provides an opportunity to view the history of the Lake City mining era through a series of stabilized and interpreted significant sites relating to the mining and everyday life of the early settlers and miners of the high elevation San Juan Mountains.
Paleontological resources are also administered under the cultural resources program in the Gunnison Field Office. These include vertebrate and invertebrate fossils of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) that once flourished on the earth millions and millions of years ago.
The Gunnison Field Office partners with colleges, universities, volunteers, and state and local historical groups to stabilize, protect, interpret sites for public education and provide research opportunities to preserve and interpret America’s fragile, irreplaceable cultural resources for future generations. For information about current volunteer or partnership programs please contact Elizabeth Francisco , BLM archaeologist, at 970-642-4940.