Colorado Roadless Comment Period Ending
A ninety day public comment period on Colorado’s latest proposal for managing roadless National Forest lands ends Thursday. The current plan has sparked criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
Colorado’s Roadless Rule has been through a number of revisions since it was first proposed more than six years ago. Right now it includes exceptions for limited expansions of coal mines and ski resorts, and for road-building to treat beetle-killed trees that pose fire risks to nearby communities.
State officials like Mike King of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation have long called the state’s rule an insurance policy, should the courts overturn a 2001 national roadless rule.
"We feel we have a better rule for Colorado that on whole provides more protection than the 2001 rule, but also gives us flexibility to address our economic and environmental situation here in the state," King said.
The current plan also adds “higher tier” protections for certain roadless forests, a change from the rule originally submitted by Governor Bill Ritter.
The influential lobbying arm of western Colorado counties, Club 20 has criticized these additional protections, while many environmental groups think they don’t go far enough.
"What the roadless conservation rule did in 2001 is set a high bar on protecting these intact areas because we have so little left around the nation," said Dominick DellaSala, president of the Oregon-based Geos Institute.
The Obama Administration has said it hopes to issue a final decision on the Colorado Roadless Rule by the end of the year.