Colorado Roadless Plan Needs to Slow Down

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Hunters and anglers in Colorado are asking the Colorado congressional delegation to slow the Colorado roadless rule-making process until a number of serious issues with the proposed rule can be addressed, according to a letter from Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Colorado Trout Unlimited and the Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

The letter, dated June 18, 2009, asks the Colorado delegation to "urge Gov. Ritter to ... weigh the Colorado rule against the administration's national roadless regulations to ensure the best outcome for Colorado's roadless backcountry." The proposed rule, sportsmen say, would significantly reduce the protection bestowed on Colorado's backcountry in comparison to the national rule.

Problems with Colorado's proposed rule are significant, according to Dave Petersen, Colorado field director for Trout Unlimited.

"Sportsmen have participated fully in the rule-making process," Petersen said. "But the proposal's loopholes include allowing roads for logging, coal mines, energy development, power line corridors and water conveyances. This proposal will not protect Colorado's backcountry areas, plain and simple."

"The draft Colorado roadless rule, which will determine the management of 4.4 million acres of public lands, is riddled with problems that could jeopardize some of our state's most valuable fish and wildlife habitat," said Forrest Orswell, TRCP field representative and avid sportsman. "But prompt action by Colorado's congressional delegates can help fix these problems before the rule is finalized. Hunters and anglers are looking to these leaders for responsible action to sustain the future of our outdoor heritage."

The letter continues: "We also ask that you urge Gov. Ritter to use Secretary Vilsack's 'timeout' as an opportunity to weigh the Colorado roadless rule against an initial outline of the administration's national roadless regulations." The "timeout" allows the new administration time to study the complex roadless land management guidelines for lands under U.S. Forest Service stewardship. "Doing so will result in a course of action that is best for Colorado's backcountry and outdoor traditions."