Forest Service to discuss roadless area management | AspenTimes.com
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Forest Service to discuss roadless area management

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The U.S. Forest Service will hold a Sept. 10 open house in Glenwood Springs to help the public understand a complicated proposed rule for managing roadless areas of national forests.

The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Hotel Colorado at 526 Pine St. The event isn’t a public hearing. Rather, Forest Service staffers will be on hand to answer questions and help people understand the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule and an associated draft environmental impact statement.

Colorado is one of only two states, along with Idaho, where special roadless rules are being contemplated. The Colorado and Idaho state governments decided to participate in a voluntary process with the federal government to set management policy. The policy in other states will be dictated by the 2001 roadless rule implemented by President Clinton.

President Bush overturned the Clinton Roadless Rule, but a federal judge reinstated it in 2006. By that time, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter decided to participate in the process proposed by the Bush administration in an effort to protect roadless areas. Environmentalists claim that well-intentioned effort backfired on the governor.

Environmental groups contend the Bush administration is using a loophole in agreements with Colorado and Idaho to open additional national forest lands to road construction.

Wilderness Workshop, the Roaring Fork Valley’s oldest locally based conservation group, claimed in recent correspondence to members that it is “unclear if any roadless areas would actually be protected.” Special rules would allow development of “long-term temporary roads” for oil and gas development, for example, the organization claimed. Wilderness Workshop is urging its members to get involved in the process and submit comments urging additional protections for roadless areas. It is unclear at this point if the proposal has proponents.

The Forest Service’s open house in Glenwood Springs is one of eight being held in the state on the proposal. Members of the public can submit written comments at the meeting and they will also have the option of providing oral comments to a court reporter.

Comments will also be accepted at COcomments@fsroadless.org or by mailing them to Roadless Area Conservation – Colorado, P.O. Box 162909, Sacramento, CA 95816-2909 or faxed to 916-456-6724. The deadline for submitted comments is Oct. 23.

More information on the Colorado Roadless Rule is available online at http://roadless.fs.fed.us/colorado.shtml.