Conservationists quick to criticize Colorado’s revised roadless rule

Starting Monday, environmentalists and sportsmen’s groups – as well anyone else concerned about Colorado’s roadless public lands– were given another 60 days to comment on the state’s latest protection plan. They only needed about 60 minutes.

The Pew Environment Group immediately charged that the latest revised plan is even less protective of Colorado’s more than 4 million acres of largely undeveloped public lands than the draft plan the state submitted in 2008 after months of public review and comment.

Pew wants to see the Obama administration throw out Colorado’s plan in favor of the 2001 Clinton administration Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protected about 58.5 million acres nationwide. The Bush administration quickly tossed that rule aside and later allowed states to petition for their own roadless rules. Only Idaho and Colorado did so, with Idaho adopting a fairly restrictive plan last year.

Colorado’s plan has been more controversial because of exceptions for logging, mining, oil and gas development and ski area expansion. According to the Denver Post, the new, revised rule protects 4,184,000 acres in Colorado, compared to 4,031,000 in the 2008 draft and 4,243,500 under the Clinton rule.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a coalition of sportsmen’s group, also criticized the revised plan for its broad exceptions that would allow road building for logging, coal mining and water projects in critical wildlife habitat and fisheries.

To get the state’s take, go to the Department of Natural Resources Web site. To comment on the latest plan, e-mail or send a written comment to Roadless Rule Comments, Colorado Department Of Natural Resources, 1313 Sherman Street, Room 718, Denver, CO 80203.

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