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Why Obama Administration’s Moratorium on Roads in Forests Won’t Stop Colorado From Forging Its Own Path

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the guy who also oversees the Forest Service, issued a directive yesterday reinstating a ban, which prohibits road building and logging on more than 58 million acres of remote wild land, that dates to the Clinton administration.

That’s according to The Associated Press, which reports that the directive, welcomed by several environmental groups, gives Vilsack “sole decision-making authority over all proposed forest management or road construction projects in designated roadless areas in all states except Idaho.” That’s problematic for Colorado, the only other state to create its own roadless plan during recent years as the Bush administration reversed the rule implemented in President Bill Clinton’s final days.

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Nonetheless, Colorado will move ahead with its own effort to craft rules regarding about 4.4 million acres of land, writes The Denver Post. “We’ve made representations to stakeholders, including the coal industry and ski resorts, and we are going to move forward,” says Theo Stein, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Dave Petersen, of Trout Unlimited, says Colorado “should just step back and let the Obama administration try to develop a national policy.” 

The Aspen Times reports the rule would prevent drilling for natural gas wells near Carbondale, a move applauded by conservationists.

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