Opposition is mounting in Colorado against a bill introduced by Washington lawmakers Thursday to cement the protections of the 2001 Roadless rule.
Some environmental groups oppose the bill’s provision for a separate plan that would exempt Colorado from the rule. Opponents of that idea rallied in Denver yesterday, and plan to send more than 200,000 messages to Pres. Obama and Gov. Ritter.
Jane Danowitz, director of the U.S. Public Lands Program for the Pew Environment Group, says circumventing the national policy for roadless lands sells Colorado short.
“It opens up some of the country’s best backcountry to oil and gas development, new road building and coal mining.”
Danowitz says Colorado’s roadless areas include some of the country’s premier wild lands.
“These are areas that are rugged; they’re havens for outdoor recreation; they are home to valuable fish and wildlife habitat.”
Only Colorado and Idaho have asked for roadless rules specific to their states. Gov. Ritter has supported a rule for Colorado that would allow more logging and road building on the state’s largely undeveloped national forests in order to harvest dead and dying trees near ski resorts, Front Range water supplies and other mountain communities.
The public comment period for the proposed Colorado roadless rule ends Saturday. Danowitz worries it could open up millions of acres of untouched Colorado national forests to development.
The Bush administration attempted to replace the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects 58 million acres of America’s remaining undeveloped national forestland, but the Obama Administration has since called a “time out” on activity in roadless areas until the issue can be resolved.
Supporters of the national rule are urging the White House to uphold the 2001 rule soon. Critics say it would “lock up” natural resources, which could otherwise be recovered with low-intrusive technologies, and which could help decrease the country’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. They also argue roads will be needed to address the growing problem of dead trees due to fires and beetle-kill.
— Colorado News Connection