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Proposed Colorado Roadless Rule and Draft Environmental Impact Statement Available for Public Comment; Public Open Houses Planned

Denver, CO, July 25, 2008 – Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Department) published in the Federal Register the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule to address the management of roadless areas on National Forest System (NFS) lands within the state of Colorado. The associated draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) is posted on the U.S. Forest Service Web site at http://roadless.fs.fed.us/colorado.shtml

People will have 90 days to comment on the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule. The comment period for the DEIS will begin on the day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency publishes the Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register and will end the same day as the comment period for the Rule, which is October 23, 2008.

The U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region and the State of Colorado will host eight open houses for the public across the state the last two weeks of August as well as a July 29 meeting in the Washington, D.C. area to facilitate understanding of the proposed rule and provide comment opportunities.

The proposed rule and DEIS culminate ongoing, intensive, and cooperative work with the Colorado Governor´s office that began in 2005. The undertaking also represents the State of Colorado´s support for a roadless area protection strategy after years of concern over the effects of the 2001 Roadless Conservation Area Rule to the State of Colorado and its residents.

“Collaboration among the State of Colorado, local communities, and the U.S. Forest Service has resulted in a proposed roadless rule that provides the most effective way to manage and conserve National Forest System roadless areas in Colorado,” said Colorado Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Mike King.

The proposed Colorado Roadless Rule would conserve the natural integrity and character of Colorado roadless areas. It prohibits road building and tree cutting except for limited circumstances similar to those under the 2001 Rule as well as specific Colorado exceptions. These include temporary roads needed for fuels treatment to protect communities; roads needed to construct or maintain water and utility infrastructure; and temporary roads for exploration or development of the North Fork coal mining area.

The proposed rule would correct roadless area boundaries based on updated inventories.

“We are asking for public comments on how the rule has balanced national and local interests in the conservation and management of national forest roadless areas in the state of Colorado,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Rick Cables.

The State of Colorado Roadless Area Task Force completed significant public involvement activities in 2006. The proposed rule is built on ideas and concerns raised during that public involvement effort.

The rulemaking process began when then–Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns accepted Colorado´s petition in August 2007 and directed the Forest Service to begin rulemaking with Colorado as a cooperating agency. The Secretary´s decision followed the recommendation of the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee (RACNAC) to accept the Colorado petition. The RACNAC, which includes diverse representatives from the environmental community, industry, outdoor recreation and state and local government, was formed by the Secretary in 2005 to bring a national perspective to the state–specific petition and rulemaking process.

A notice of intent to prepare an EIS on "Roadless Area Conservation; National Forest System Lands in Colorado" was published in the Federal Register, December 26, 2007 (246, FR 72982).

The process will culminate with release of the final rule, EIS, and record of decision.

Additional Information, Comments or Questions

a. Information on the Colorado Roadless Rule and planned public meetings is available at http://roadless.fs.fed.us/colorado.shtml

b. Specific questions regarding the Roadless Rule or Draft EIS:

  • Citizens with specific questions should call the Roadless Rule information line at 303–275–5567.
  • News media: Contact the USFS Rocky Mountain Region Public Affairs Office at 303–275–5354.

c. Citizen Comments:

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