Conservationists call on Vilsack to suspend, cancel Colorado roadless rule

A growing chorus of Colorado and national sportsmen and conservation groups are calling on U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to suspend work on the controversial Colorado roadless rule or pull the plug on it altogether in favor of a strong national rule.

Colorado Wild, the Wilderness Workshop, Colorado Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership were among 10 groups that fired off a letter to Vilsack late last week in hopes of stalling the process at least until new leadership is in place at the U.S. Forest Service – leadership that would presumably be more in tune with Obama administration conservation goals.

Colorado is one of only two states that opted to petition the Forest Service for its own roadless rule, which limits road building and development on more than 4.4 million acres of the state’s largely roadless national forest land.

Idaho, the only other state to go the Bush administration petition route, implemented a rule late last year that more closely paralleled a 2001 Clinton administration roadless rule.

State and national conservationists want to see a Colorado rule more in line with the 2001 rule because they say the new Colorado rule has too many exceptions for everything from logging to oil and gas development to ski-area expansion.

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