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.

High Country Conservation Advocates v. United States Forest Service

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 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 not quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions from coal operations and coal combustion, and for not properly considering a comment.  View the court order here.

In September 2014 the court vacated the North Fork Coal Mining Area exception of the Colorado Roadless Rule – Remedy Order.  View the court order here.

Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement

To remedy the deficiencies found by the court, as well as to uphold the collaborative effort began by the 2012 Colorado Roadless Rule, the Forest Service is preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The SEIS proposes 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 for the 19,700 acre North Fork Coal Mining Area.
  3. Reinstate the coal-related exception for a reduced 12,600 acres in the North Fork Coal Mining Area.

On April 7, 2015, the Forest Service published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register to prepare an 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, 2015, the Forest Service published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register explaining that the SDEIS was available for review and public comment. 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.  Public involvement is an essential and required part of the planning process. Thank you to all who participated. View submitted comments here.

After reviewing public comments and completing an internal review, the Supplemental Final EIS (SFEIS) was submitted for USDA and other government agency review.

Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement

On November 18, 2016, the Forest Service published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the SFEIS.  View the SFEIS and Summary.  View the November 17, 2016, news release.

Record of Decision and Final Rule

On December 19, 2016, the Forest Service will publish a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) and Final Rule. View the ROD and Final Rule. View the December 16, 2016, news release.

Next Steps

The Final Rule will go into effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.