William Shoemaker


Will Shoemaker

As former editor of the Gunnison Country Times newspaper, I’ve observed both personally and professionally significant change to our home  and surrounding backcountry brought by growth and development, and our community’s attempts — sometimes successful, sometimes less so — to mitigate this change. 

I’m a backcountry skier and snowmobiler and value multi-use recreation. That’s why I support Elk Mountains Backcountry Alliance’s efforts advocating for more effective management for our local backcountry. As much as I enjoy the thrill and convenience of a sled, I relish the feeling of long tours and hard-earned turns and strongly believe that some places should remain wild — that is, only accessible under human power. Growing use of our public lands by a wide range of winter recreationists demands a comprehensive winter travel management plan that protects opportunities for solitude and human-powered recreation and ensures a safe experience for all. 

Outside of ski season, I enjoy trail running, hunting and angling in the wild places and wilderness that are so abundant around us. I’m a strong wildlife advocate, board member of Gunnison Wildlife Association and longtime member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. The Gunnison Valley is one of the last remaining strongholds for intact habitat and healthy wildlife populations in Colorado, but encroaching development and recreational pressures threaten to change that. Our native wildlife needs our protection. 

Currently, I work as Communications & Engagement Director for Advocates for the West, a public interest nonprofit environmental law firm that partners closely with Winter Wildlands Alliance and grassroots conservation organizations to protect wintering wildlife and quiet recreation. Through this work, I’ve seen elsewhere in the West just how effective a community-involved winter travel management plan can be in ensuring ample opportunities for a wide range of recreationists while protecting our natural resources and desire for solitude. 

Amid growing human pressures, planning for the future is more important than ever. It’s up to us to make sure that all we love about Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley — its wild nature, spectacular views, and rugged character — remains for generations to come. Through this planning, I believe we can strike a balance that better protects our wild places, wildlife, and opportunities for quiet recreation, while ensuring ample opportunities for all recreationists. 

We can only find that balance by coming together.