State Goes Its Own Way to Regulate Forest Roads

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Kirk Johnson


02/05/2012 - A road into the piney woods can be fraught with consequences. That was the premise, more than a decade ago, behind a Clinton administration rule that restricted road building on millions of acres of national forests in the West. The so-called roadless rule, fought over in court from the start, was validated last year by a federal appeals panel, setting off a wave of euphoria among supporters and consternation among critics. 

But there is a big wrinkle here in Colorado, which was one of only two states — Idaho was the other — that at the urging of the Bush administration developed their own rules about roads in the wild.

The state restrictions are supposed to be at least as stiff as the national rule, and a decision on Colorado’s draft plan, now under review in Washington by the United States Forest Service, is expected within weeks. But conservationists say the plan is much less protective of forestland and creates the likelihood that a state many Americans identify with the very aeries and woods the national rule was designed to protect could become a kind of orphan.

“It would give Colorado, at the end of day, fewer protections than any other state,” said Jane Danowitz, director of the public lands program at the Pew Environment Group, a nonprofit organization in Washington. “It’s a runaway train.”

Read the full article, State Goes Its Own Way to Regulate Forest Roads, on the New York Times' Web site.

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