Colorado’s Roadless Forests: They need your help before July 14

Roadless forests in Colorado, aka., the most pristine and exceptional forests lands in the state, are about to get a bad break—unless we can convince the Forest Service otherwise.

The Forest Service recently released a ‘draft rule’ that will govern Colorado’s national forest roadless lands. The rule, if implemented, would leave Colorado’s wild forests open to potential road building and even the surface impacts of oil and gas drilling—activities that should not be  allowed to degrade  designated roadless lands within our national forests.

The proposed rule could harm both ecological and scenic values of the state’s most pristine forests. These places offer exceptional wildlife habitat, outstanding recreation areas, and priceless ecosystem services, including the vital role of protecting clean drinking water.

This is why we have launched a campaign to ensure the Forest Service knows that Americans want all of our roadless forests to receive strong protections. 

You can help by telling the Forest Service to ensure the Colorado Roadless Rule protects these unblemished lands for their wildlife, watershed, recreation and other values. Please send your letter before the comment period closes on July 14.

Why are Colorado roadless areas being treated differently than others?
A National Forest Roadless Rule was adopted in 2001 after the most extensive public participation process for any rulemaking in our history. That rule protected 58.5 million acres of inventoried roadless areas across our country’s national forests from road construction and commercial logging. The Bush Administration attempted to undermine the national 2001 Rule by encouraging each state to pursue its own rule instead, and two states—Idaho and Colorado—took that path.

To that end, the Forest Service recently released a proposed rule to govern Colorado’s national forest roadless areas for public comment. The problem is the Obama administration pledged that the Colorado rule would  be “as protective or preferably more protective” than the National Roadless Rule—yet the proposed Colorado Rule falls short of  that standard.

The draft Colorado Rule contains several major flaws that, unless corrected, mean Colorado’s forests would receive less protection than other states.

The proposed Colorado rule:

  • Allows 100 oil and gas leases to be developed in some of Colorado’s best backcountry areas.
  • Does not clearly specify where logging would be allowed for the purpose of reducing fire risk to communities. 
  • Allows for road building (euphemistically called “linear construction zones”) for water conveyance structures, electrical power lines, telecommunication lines, and oil and gas pipelines.
  • Leaves out over 2 million acres of exceptional lands from receiving enhanced “upper tier” protections. Further, loopholes put “upper tier” roadless areas at risk from oil and gas development, pipelines, and transmission lines.

This proposed Colorado rule would undermine the protections these forests enjoy under the 2001 national roadless forest rule.  Our wild Colorado forests deserve better than this. 

Write today to urge the Forest Service to fix these significant flaws in the Colorado Roadless Rule.