In response to today’s U.S. Department of Agriculture release of a draft rule to manage Colorado’s national forest roadless areas, Ted Zukoski, staff attorney for public interest environmental law firm Earthjustice, which has defended the national roadless rule in courtrooms all across the West, made the following statement:
“The 2001 national Roadless Rule is the gold standard, and protects Colorado roadless areas now. The Obama administration promised the Colorado Rule would protect our remaining roadless forests as well as or better than the national rule. It doesn’t.
“The proposed Colorado roadless rule has damaging loopholes. It will allow twenty thousands acres of our state’s remaining wild forests to be scarred with bulldozers for coal mining, a dirty energy source. And it doesn’t end the threat of oil and gas leasing on leases pushed through by the Forest Service after 2001.
“We need a strong national rule in place. In the 1980s and 90s, with no national guidance and an ad hoc approach, national forests across the West carved up scores of roadless areas, degrading wildlife habitat, fragile watersheds, and irreplaceable recreation areas. These national treasures belonging to all Americans were lost.
“Finally, we await a ruling from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on a challenge from the State of Wyoming to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The 2001 rule granted protection to about 58 million acres of national forests nationwide, sparing America’s last unroaded lands from auction, bulldozing and commercial logging. The Obama administration should not put forward a watered-down roadless rule for Colorado when the Tenth Circuit could uphold the national rule here any day. We shouldn’t have to accept weaker protections for our roadless areas.”