Forests could get long-term roads

Denis Berckfeldt of Denver playing Teddy Roosevelt hands out fliers at the road-less meeting at Two Rivers Tuesday evening for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Colorado’s forested areas could contain “long-term temporary roads” under a proposed rule for roadless areas being studied by the U.S. Forest Service.

The rule and its parts were introduced to the public Tuesday at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Long-term temporary roads are roads that would be used for oil and gas drilling or coal mining and are intended for reclamation once they outlive their value to the industry, said Pam Skeels of the Forest Service.

“They could be in place for 10 to 30 years,” as opposed to the temporary roads the Forest Service generally deals with. Those roads tend to have two- or three-year life spans, she said.

Environmental interests, though, don’t like long-term temporary roads.

“There are highways in Colorado that don’t last 30 years,” said Jason Sorter of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Such roads also leave out an important industry, said Eric Sorenson of the Delta Timber Co. Many of the roads now used by anglers and hunters were begun by logging and similar industries, and they’re key to keeping forests available for multiple uses, Sorenson said.

“Otherwise, they’re limited-use,” he said.

The Forest Service is holding open-house meetings around the state as it considers how to manage the 4.1 million acres of roadless lands in the state’s forests.

Public hearings aren’t on the schedule, though, and Pete Kolbenschlag of the Colorado Environmental Coalition said that is unfortunate.

“It gives people the opportunity to make their case, and it would require the Forest Service to listen,” he said.

A similar process in Idaho included open houses and hearings, “and Colorado has three times the population of Idaho,” he said.


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