DENVER (December 26, 2007)
– The Bush administration revealed today its intentions to remove existing legal protections from over 4.4 million acres of roadless areas in the national forests of Colorado. The Forest Service formally announced that it is beginning a process to establish a new rule for managing Colorado's roadless areas. The public was given 60 days to submit comments.
The proposal would completely remove roadless protections from approximately 300,000 acres of wild forestlands, and weaken them for the remaining 4.1 million acres. The announcement follows on the heels of last week’s similar announcement that the Forest Service will begin consideration of a plan to open millions of roadless acres in Idaho to industrial development and road building.
“The Bush administration’s actions in Colorado will turn over some of America’s most pristine wildlands to industry exploitation,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is part of the administration’s latest strategy to erode, state by state, the protections that safeguard our public forests.
“First Idaho, now Colorado, and in a few short weeks the Forest Service plans to release a new management plan allowing roadless area logging in Alaska’s Tongass rainforest, our largest national forest. The pattern is clear -- the Bush Administration is trying to leave our most pristine forestlands open to corporate special interests -- and it is doing it through death by a thousand cuts.
“The Bush Administration has spent almost seven years trying to undo the Roadless Rule. Now, while most people are home enjoying the holidays, the Forest Service is hard at work in a last effort to try to slice-up America’s wildlands one piece at a time.
“These wild areas represent our last, best places that must be preserved for the unique outdoor opportunities, clean drinking water, bountiful wildlife habitat, and sheer majesty they provide to local residents and visitors alike.
“Coloradans and Americans across the country want to make sure these forests are protected from the Bush administration’s last desperate attempts to help their timber, oil and gas, and mining buddies. If the administration succeeds in any of these states, our country stands to lose some of the most vibrant places within our national forests.”