What will happen to Colorado forests?

Dome Peak Roadless Area in White River National Forest. Photo by Harlan Savage.

Some of Colorado’s most pristine places are at risk. While the federal 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule protects nearly 60 million acres of pristine forests throughout the nation, the state of Colorado continues to move forward with a proposal that would exempt the state from the national rule, replacing it with a weaker version that could damage some of the most beautiful countryside in Colorado.

Currant Creek, high above the North Fork of the Gunnison River, is one of the places that could be ruined. This distinctly remote and unaltered landscape spans diverse mid-elevation forest landscape hosting aspen, oak and serviceberry. This area is essential to elk calving, mule deer rearing, migration and other seasonal wildlife habitat issues.

Under the rule Colorado is proposing, Currant Creek would be opened to coal mining and a network of new roads and coal drilling platforms — all far from any existing coal portals and transportation networks.

We need to stop this damage to Colorado’s forests before it’s too late. That’s why we’ve called on everyone who loves our forests to ask President Obama to direct the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to suspend the state of Colorado’s effort to approve a weakened roadless rule and to uphold the 2001 national rule instead.

For most of the past eight years, the rule that has protected these forests – the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule — has survived on-going legal attacks and administrative maneuvers by the former Bush administration. Conservation organizations and people across the country have had to join forces to repel these attempts to weaken protection for our roadless forests.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped officials in Colorado from pushing for a weaker rule for that state.

President Obama has already demonstrated great support for America’s forests but threats against them never seem to end. Now it’s the state of Colorado that’s trying to open more acres of national forests to exploitation. Let’s let the president know that we support any effort he can make to stop the degradation of the wild character of places like Currant Creek. Let’s tell him that we place incalculable value on these special places because of what they do to protect our drinking water, conserve land that is home to countless recreational activities, help defend the country against the harmful effects of global warming, and provide habitat for wildlife.

photo: Dome Peak Roadless Area in White River National Forest. Photo by Harlan Savage.