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 applies to 4.2 million acres of National Forest roadless areas within Colorado and conserves roadless area values for future generations, while providing for activities important to the citizens and economy of Colorado. 

One such activity was continuing exploration and development of coal resources on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests.  The Colorado Roadless Rule addressed this concern by defining a 19,100-acre area as the North Fork Coal Mining Area, and developing an exception that allows temporary road construction for coal-related activities within that defined area. 

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. In June 2014, the District Court of Colorado determined that the Forest Service’s analysis of this exception failed to meet National Environmental Policy Act requirements.  The court vacated the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception of the Colorado Roadless Rule (36 CFR 294.43(c)(1)(ix)) in September 2014.

District of Colorado Decision and Remedy Order.

On April 7, 2015, the Forest Service published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to reinstate the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception of the Colorado Roadless Rule.  On November 20, 2015 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.

On December 30, 2015, 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.  Click here for the initial news release.  Click here for the final news release.  The extended comment period ended on January 15, 2016.  To review comments submitted, please click here.

Public Comment Period Closes for the Colorado Roadless Rule Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement

On Friday, January 15, the 11-day extension to the original 45-day comment period for the Colorado Roadless Rule Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement closed. The Forest Service received about 104,000 letters, of which about 900 were unique letters, while the majority were form letters. Also received were three petitions containing about 19,000 signatures.

The Forest Service will be analyzing the substantive comments received, revising the supplemental environmental impact statement and publishing a supplemental final environmental impact statement this spring or summer.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish a final rule shortly after, if the Secretary decides to promulgate the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception.  The preamble to the final rule will include responses to significant comments, the record of decision, rationale for the decision and provide any further clarification if needed.

Public involvement is an essential and required part of the planning process. We appreciate your participation.

For more information, please visit the project webpage.

Documents for Review

SDEIS Errata
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Background Information

Ruling of the 2001 Roadless Rule
During the month of October the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. Currently, the 10th Circuit ruling does not affect the Colorado Roadless Rule. On December 5, 2011 the State of Wyoming petitioned the 10th Circuit to review the October decision. This review was rejected by the 10th Circuit, lifting the injunction prohibiting the implementation of the 2001 Roadless Rule by the District court of Wyoming. Until the injunction is lifted, the status quo for roadless area management is the 2001 Roadless Rule.

Tenth Circuit Opinion - (pdf - 267k)

Documents from the Final Rule