State environmental groups ask Obama to intervene in roadless area management

Colorado environmental groups are asking the Obama administration to intervene in disputes about roadless forests in western Colorado and overrule efforts by Gov. Bill Ritter to draft a Colorado-specific rule.

The proposed rule “is really a road rule for Colorado, not a roadless rule,” the organizations wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging him to take no action on the Colorado rule until the administration articulates “a clear national direction” for roadless-area management.

Ritter said in a statement that Colorado’s goals are consistent with those of the Obama administration, and his administration will continue working on the draft rule “with the expectation that it will be reviewed in the context of a new national roadless policy.”

Ritter has held out against calls from environmental organizations to abandon the Colorado rule in favor of a national approach favored by environmental organizations.

The Western Colorado Congress, Colorado Wild and several other organizations signed the letter to Vilsack.

The same groups want the federal government to review projects deemed to be in violation of a rule adopted in the closing days of the Clinton administration in 2001.

That rule was overturned in the federal courts.

The proposed Colorado rule would allow “virtually unlimited logging” of as many as 660,000 acres, which would violate the 2001 rule if it were in effect, the groups said.

The Colorado rule also could allow a coal mine in the Current Creek area of Delta County without public review, the organizations said.


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