500 miles of Colorado forest roads under review for closure | AspenTimes.com

500 miles of Colorado forest roads under review for closure

Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to consider closing 500 miles of roads for motorized vehicles that land managers improperly allowed in mountains west of Front Range cities.

Under a legal settlement accepted Monday in U.S. District Court, the Forest Service also must consult with state wildlife experts within three months on whether immediate changes must be made to protect deer and elk.

A coalition of environmental groups forced the settlement, the result of a 2011 lawsuit challenging the roads across 1.1 million acres of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest.

That forest contains delicate alpine terrain including 19 of Colorado's 54 peaks higher than 14,000 feet, such as Mount Elbert, the state's highest, and Pikes Peak, above Colorado Springs.

"This will give Coloradans a chance to have their voices heard," said Ted Zukoski, an Earthjustice attorney representing environmental groups. "It will force the Forest Service to ensure, as the law requires, that they minimize environmental damage."

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