Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environment Group's U.S. public lands program, today issued the following statement regarding the 200,000 messages that will be sent to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and the Obama administration calling for the national forest roadless areas in the state to receive the same protection as provided by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation rule.
"Colorado's roadless plan sells its national forests and the public short. By opening up the state's best backcountry to new road construction, oil and gas development and coal mining, Colorado is denying future generations an opportunity to enjoy these treasured landscapes.
"We urge the Obama administration to uphold its commitment to fully implement the 2001 rule and reject attempts by the state and special interests to get out from under its protections."
Danowitz also praised Senator Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) and Representative Jay Inslee's (D-WA) introduction of bipartisan legislation, supported by 25 senators and 152 House members, to codify the 2001 rule.
Background: In 2005, the Bush administration attempted to replace the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule which protects roughly 60 million acres of America's remaining undeveloped national forestland, with a discretionary state-based petition process. In May 2009, the Obama administration called for a "time out" on activity in roadless areas until legal and administrative conflicts are resolved. On August 5, 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision to reinstate the 2001 roadless rule for the majority of roadless areas. On October 3, 2009, the public comment period ends for review of a Colorado proposal for national forest roadless areas in that state that would circumvent the protections of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule and open up 4.4 million acres of undeveloped national forests to new road construction, oil and gas development and coal mining.