Roadless route still obscured

Now that a U.S. appellate court has determined that the decade-old Clinton roadless rule is valid — governing roughly 50 million acres of national forest land throughout the West —  the future of a proposed Colorado rule to oversee roughly 4 million acres of designated roadless lands on national forests in this state is very much in doubt.

Mike King, director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said the state plans to continue working with U.S. Forest Service officials to finalize the Colorado rule. We certainly understand and appreciate that effort.

Over six years, and through the administrations of three governors, Colorado has worked to establish a sensible plan that protects the millions of acres of backcountry national forest lands from development.

At the same time, the Colorado plan recognizes issues that are unique to Colorado, such as coal mine development in the North Fork Valley, potential ski area expansion and the need to clear trees on the edges of some roadless areas where massive beetle kill presents a serious fire hazard.

We have supported the Colorado rule because we believe it’s better for this state than a one-size-fits-all national roadless rule. But environmental groups that have long opposed the Colorado rule now have a strong argument that the state rule is unnecessary, given the national rule has been upheld.

Don’t expect the legal fight on this issue to be over.


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