The following statement from The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams is in response to the U.S. Forest Service’s announcement of the Colorado Roadless Rule:
“For more than a decade, The Wilderness Society has successfully advocated for consistent national protections for roadless areas in our country’s national forests. The national Roadless Area Conservation Rule has been upheld by the courts and is now providing important conservation protections to nearly 50 million acres across America.
“Today, the Obama Administration has decided to move forward to finalize a Colorado specific Roadless Rule. The Colorado rulemaking process has provided significant new information about Colorado’s roadless areas, including 400,000 acres of newly identified roadless lands. Equally important, 1.2 million acres of Colorado’s wildest places have been recognized as warranting special protection. We support these positive outcomes of the state rule.
“However, the Colorado Roadless Rule was not needed to protect Colorado’s roadless areas, especially since the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed the legality of the national Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The national Roadless Rule provides a consistent approach to managing our national forest roadless areas across the country, including the 4.2 million acres in Colorado.
“Though the Colorado Rule released today does a better job than the draft of protecting national forest roadless areas in the state, we believe that the rule will result in road construction and loss of wildland values in some key areas. The Rule is moving in the right direction to ensure it does not facilitate oil and gas development on approximately 80,000 acres of roadless areas – many in the Thompson Divide region – but there is still work to do. We will continue to advocate for improvements in the Colorado rule before it is finalized.”