Keep roadless plan intact

The new mantra of conservation groups that don’t like the Colorado plan to manage some 4 million acres of national forest roadless areas in the state is: Just wait, say until next year, when a new president may issue yet another edict on how the roadless areas should be managed. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have already issued conflicting orders.

But, even if the next president offers a new plan, conflicting federal court rulings about the validity of the original Clinton rule could end up delaying protection of the areas even longer.

That’s why we continue to believe the Colorado plan should be adopted by federal officials.

The plan was developed through multiple public meetings during Gov. Bill Owens’ administration and was endorsed, with a few changes, by Gov. Bill Ritter. Ritter has called it an insurance policy in the event the federal roadless rule is ultimately deemed invalid, and it is definitely that.

Along with others, we have long believed there was a problem with a loophole in the state plan that allowed new gas leases in a few roadless areas while the plan was being considered. We hope that loophole can be closed.

But the Colorado plan, in general, is a sensible road map for managing roadless areas. It should be adopted.


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