Roadless backers make mass appeal to Forest Service

Environmental organizations delivered what they said were 170,000 letters urging the U.S. Forest Service to reject Colorado’s petition for rules governing management of forest lands in the state.

Critics of the proposed rule say it contains loopholes that allow for energy development, logging and roadbuilding.

“Our roadless backcountry is best left as it is — roadless,” said Anya Byers of the Colorado Mountain Club.

“The proposed rule for Colorado has too many loopholes that would lead to the permanent loss and degradation of these areas.”

The Colorado petition was drafted by a bipartisan task force that called for a no-surface occupancy provision for those areas, meaning only directional drilling would be allowed to reach natural gas or oil beneath the forests.

Gov. Bill Ritter has resisted urging by environmental organizations to repudiate the state’s petition for its own version of the roadless rule.

Opponents also have pointed to the proposed rule allowing what are termed “long-term temporary roads,” which are intended to be reclaimed once they outlive their value to the energy, mining or logging industries.

Those roads, however, could be used for as many as 30 years, the Forest Service has said.

In a demonstration at the state Capitol, kayakers in paddle jackets were joined by others in hauling a kayak up the west steps to illustrate what they called a “boatload of letters” in opposition to the proposed rule.

Nature photographer John Fielder joined the rally, saying “a healthy economy will result from protecting our nature resources.”

The Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee will meet Nov. 18 and 19 in Washington to review the proposed Colorado rule.


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