Grijalva, Dombeck to push Obama administration for national roadless rule

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat at one time under consideration for the secretary of the interior post being filled by Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, is joining forces with former Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck to push the Obama administration for a national roadless rule.

And not just any national roadless rule. According to a Pew Environment Group release Thursday, Grijalva, who serves on the House subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and Dombeck, head of both the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during the Clinton administration, would like to see Clinton’s 2001 roadless rule reinstated.

The Bush administration set aside the Clinton roadless rule, which would have implemented more protection from road building and development on more than 58 million acres of public lands, in favor of a petition process that allowed states to seek their own set of roadless rules on federal lands within their borders.

Clinton’s national rule has been kicked back and forth in federal courts around the country ever since, and only Idaho and Colorado went the petition route. Idaho adopted a rule that more closely resembles the Clinton rule last fall, but Colorado’s rule was still being hotly debate when Gov. Bill Ritter finally asked the Forest Service to slow down the process until a new administration could weigh in on the management of federal roadless areas.

Grijalva and Dombeck will join William Meadows, president of the Wilderness Society, on Monday for a conference call moderated by Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment Group. Their goal is to “call on incoming Obama administration to uphold the roadless rule, and to launch a new roadless protection campaign,” according to the release.

Some environmentalists claim the new Colorado rule would allow far more road-building exceptions for logging, ski-area expansion and oil and gas production than the Clinton roadless rule. Public lands on the federal roadless inventory are not designated wilderness but are areas largely untrammeled by development of any kind and are considered prime wildlife habitat and ideal for low-impact outdoor recreation.

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