Colorado Roadless Rule

Welcome to the U. S. Forest Service Colorado Roadless Rule

 

Roc Creek Roadless Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest

On July 3, 2012, the Colorado Roadless Rule became effective with the publication of the final rule in the Federal Register. The Rule provides management direction to conserve roadless area values across 4.2 million acres of National Forest System lands within the state. It allows for temporary road construction and reconstruction for coal exploration and/or coal-related surface activities within a 19,100-acre area designated as the North Fork Coal Mining Area. It was developed collaboratively and achieved a balance between protection of Colorado’s roadless areas and uses.

In July 2013, High Country Conservation Advocates, WildEarth Guardians, and Sierra Club challenged the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception of the Colorado Roadless Rule. Lawsuit and Court Opinion

Currently

The Forest Service is analyzing the substantive comments received, revising the supplemental environmental impact statement and will publish a supplemental final environmental impact statement (SFEIS) this spring or summer. 

Next Steps

After the SFEIS is published, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish a final rule during the summer of 2016 

The preamble to the final rule will include, the rationale for the decision (record of decision–ROD) and provides any additional clarification if needed.

Previously

2015

On April 7 the Forest Service published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to reinstate the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception of the Colorado Roadless Rule. More than 119,000 comments were received from the public

On November 20, the Forest Service published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register explaining that the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) , and Civil Rights Impact Analysis (CRIA) were available for review and public comment. It was open for public comment for 45 days.

On December 30, The Forest Service published a Notice in the Federal Register granting an 11-day extension to the comment period to ensure that there was sufficient time for potentially affective parties, including States, to comment. The 11-day extended public comment period ended on January 15, 2016. The Forest Service received more than 104,000 letters, of which about 900 were unique letters, the majority were form letters. Four petitions were also received. Initial news release and final news release.

Between November 20, 2015 and January 2016, the Forest Service hosted two open houses/public meetings in Denver and Paonia.

Public involvement is an essential and required part of the planning process. Thank you to all who participated. View submitted comments here.

2014

In June the District Court of Colorado Decision found the Colorado Roadless Rule Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) due to analysis deficiencies.

In September the court vacated the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception of the Colorado Roadless Rule – Remedy Order.

U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to reinstate the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception as written in the 2012 Colorado Roadless Rule. The Forest Service is proposing three alternatives:

  1. No action
  2. The proposed action to reinstate the Colorado Roadless Rule exception or the North Fork Coal Mining Area and
  3. Reinstate the coal-related exception for a reduced 12,600 acres in the North Fork Coal Mining Area. 

Documents for Review

SDEIS
CRIA
SDEIS Errata
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
2012 FEIS
Comment Reading Room