Colorado Roadless Rule

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack finalized the Colorado Roadless Rule on Monday, July 2, 2012, marking the culmination of a seven-year, public-involvement process that provides protection for Colorado’s 4.2 million acres of National Forest roadless areas. 

Colorado Roadless Elk“Conserving our backcountry roadless areas on National Forests benefit all Americans.  These areas protect headwaters that provide our drinking water; recreational opportunities for hikers, sportsmen and others; and habitat for wildlife,” said Vilsack.  “This final rule provides important flexibility for Colorado, including allowing communities to address catastrophic wildfire.”

“The Colorado Roadless Rule reflects the diverse, creative and passionate suggestions contributed by thousands of Coloradans,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.  “The rule adds new protections to millions of acres of our state’s cherished national forests while providing sufficient, targeted flexibility crucial to local economies and communities.”

“Finalizing the Colorado Roadless Rule, in cooperation with the State of Colorado, is a milestone for us all,” said Dan Jirón, regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.  “More than 300,000 people and stakeholders provided thoughtful feedback during the rule-making process, which demonstrates how deeply people care for our national forests.”  

The final Colorado Roadless Rule:

  • Has more protection than the 2001 Roadless Rule, while also providing flexibility to meet Colorado’s unique needs;
  • Provides 1.2 million acres in a higher category of protection than 2001 Rule;
  • Allows more flexibility for communities to be protected from catastrophic wildfires with provisions for hazardous fuel treatment in urban areas that are near forests (Wildland Urban Interface areas);
  • Protects more roadless acres than the 2001 Rule by including an updated inventory that adds high-quality acres (409,500 acres) not covered in the 2001 Rule and removes areas (459,100 acres) where roadless characteristics were compromised;
  • Addresses economic and job growth concerns by allowing moreflexibility for existing ski areas and access for construction of methane venting associated with existing and future coal mining within the North Fork area; and
  • Does not affect valid existing rights in roadless areas such as valid existing oil and gas leases and the development rights or restrictions associated with those leases.

The final Rule reflects the views and concerns of thousands of people who expressed interest during the rule-making process.  From July 2006 to April 2011 there were five public comment periods resulting in more than 310,000 comments from people throughout the country. 

Colorado Roadless Roc-CreekThere are 363 roadless areas across 4.2 million acres throughout Colorado located in eight National Forests, which will now be managed under the 2012 Colorado Roadless Rule.  Future forest plans and revisions will be consistent with the provisions of the Colorado Roadless Rule.

Related Links:

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