Colorado Roadless Rule takes effect, but some conservation groups still object

By Troy Hooper
The Colorado IndependentJuly 7, 2012
A plan to manage some of Colorado's most prized forests went into effect this week, marking the end of a seven-year process conducted among an eclectic mix of stakeholders.

The Colorado Roadless Rule protects 363 roadless areas across 4.2 million acres of backcountry while providing foresters flexibility to address wildfire mitigation, deal with beetle infestations, accommodate ski area management, continue underground coal production in the North Fork Valley, and access and maintain water and utility corridors, according to its supporters.
Areas of Routt National Forest are included in the Colorado Roadless Rule. (Creative Commons photo by andso via Flickr)

"Local businesses and communities will greatly benefit from this development, and I will continue to oversee the future implementation of this rule,” read a press release from U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who has urged Pres. Obama to quickly approve the rule to alleviate uncertainty for communities and industry.

Many residents, however, oppose the Colorado rule, saying it opens too much of the state's best backcountry to mining, drilling, and other large-scale activities. The state rule, they say, is unnecessary after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2001 national roadless rule earlier this year. The national rule, which bans roads on about 30 percent of Forest Service lands, offers more protections, they say.

Still, some conservationists acknowledge the Colorado Roadless Rule that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack published in the Federal Register this week improves on earlier state-specific drafts.

“The Colorado Roadless Rule has some strong conservation components we like a lot and a few exceptions for industry we are not thrilled about,” Colorado Mountain Club conservation director Scott Braden said in a prepared statement. “But on balance, this rule protects millions of acres for wildlife habitat, sustains our large recreation economy and our Colorado quality of life.”

In May, when Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials announced that the Colorado Roadless Rule had been deemed the preferred alternative, Paul Seby, an attorney representing the Colorado Mining Association, praised the state-specific plan as “a better and more flexible solution than the federal Roadless Rule; it protects Colorado's environment while preserving jobs in mining and other industries critical to our state's economy.”

Also at that time, Ted Zukoski, the Denver-based attorney for Earthjustice, lamented that the Colorado Rule "still contains a loophole that allows coal companies to bulldoze roads on 20,000 acres of roadless forests and meadows, and it permits logging in remote areas far from communities. The Colorado rule leaves nearly 3 million roadless acres vulnerable to more road-building than was allowed under the 2001 national roadless rule. So taken on balance it is a step in the wrong direction.”

comments: 1 Comment on "Colorado Roadless Rule takes effect, but some conservation groups still object"

Richard Stafursky – July 07, 2012, at 11:42 a.m.

Roadless areas are great! We hail " the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2001 national roadless rule earlier this year . . ." Perhaps the US is getting closer to giving the SPECIES FOREST some slack. A species forest is a forest of, by and for all the other species that occupy a place. We need to clearn up after people dump their stuff and fix things after people set the stage for harmful invasives, but after that it is best to leave the plants, animals, gungi and soil microbes in charge of the species forest. No management required.

Comment Form Info  Comment Information
Real Aspen encourages you to post comments on our articles and blogs. Logged in email is required for monitoring purposes. Your email will not be published and will not be distributed to any third-party. Abusive, obscene, profane, threatening, libelous or defamatory comments are prohibited. By posting a comment, you agree to this policy and our terms of use. To report an abusive posting, please contact us.

To make a comment, please log in or create an account. This helps us prevent spam and other malicious attacks.

Please log in to comment


Create a user account to comment

Snow Report

  24hr snow mid dpth snow cond.
A-Basin n/a n/a
Aspen n/a n/a closed
BC n/a n/a closed
Breckenridge n/a n/a closed
Buttermilk n/a n/a closed
Copper n/a n/a closed
Crest. Butte n/a n/a closed
Eldora n/a n/a closed
Heavenly n/a n/a closed
Highlands n/a n/a
Howelsen n/a n/a closed
Keystone n/a n/a closed
Kirkwood n/a n/a closed
Loveland n/a n/a
Monarch n/a n/a closed
Northstar n/a n/a closed
Powderhorn n/a n/a closed
Purgatory n/a n/a closed
Silverton n/a n/a closed
Ski Cooper n/a n/a closed
Ski Granby n/a n/a closed
Snowmass n/a n/a closed
Steamboat n/a n/a closed
Sunlight n/a n/a closed
Telluride n/a n/a closed
Vail n/a n/a closed
WinterPark n/a n/a closed
Wolf Creek n/a n/a closed
More Weather Reports
Vail powder day snow snake
Airing it out at Crested Butte
Feb. 17, 2011 Surprise 14 inches of Fresh Powder