‘Boatload’ of roadless rule comments to capsize on Capitol steps

A pack of peeved paddlers — as well as hunters, hikers, environmentalists and business leaders — will descend on the steps of the state Capitol in Denver tomorrow to deliver a “boatload” of comments opposing a Bush administration roadless rule for managing Colorado’s public lands.

Thursday is the deadline for submitting public comments to the U.S. Forest Service on the controversial Colorado roadless rule that would roll back some protections put in place by a 2001 Clinton administration roadless rule that prohibited widespread road building on 4.4 million acres of largely pristine public land.

The groups at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow will present more than 170,000 comments opposing exemptions that would allow for “long-term temporary” roads for increased logging and more than 100 new oil and gas leases that would have been prevented under the Clinton rule, which Bush officials quickly tossed aside in 2001 and has been the subject of years of legal wrangling.

A recent Pew Environment Group survey showed the majority of Coloradans favor protecting the state’s natural resources over increased energy production, and the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee revealed this week that it will continue to review Colorado’s proposed roadless rule on Nov. 18-19.

That meeting of the Forest Service advisory committee, which provides key input on the final draft of the individual state plans, is past a deadline set by the White House for final rulemaking.

And on Monday, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership released a report on the value of roadless areas to sportsmen that was critical of the proposed Colorado rule. It reveals that hunting and fishing annually generate more than $1 billion in Colorado and that wildlife watching adds another $1.4 billion.

To send a comment by tomorrow’s deadline, e-mail to COcomments@fsroadless.org, or fax it to (916) 456–6724.


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