July 14 2009, 10:28 AM
Governor Bill Ritter has announced that Colorado's plan to manage so-called roadless areas in the state's national forests will go forward---with some revisions. The new plan, which will be released this month and trigger a 60-day comment period, would add about 160,000 acres of forest land to the roughly 4.1 million acres officials seek to permanently protect (via The Denver Post). "From my first day in office, I have worked to provide lasting protections for Colorado's backcountry and roadless heritage," the governor told the Red Owls, a group for retired Division of Wildlife employees yesterday. He added that the proposed rule still needs tweaking to address the bark-beetle epidemic, ensure growth potential for recreation, and to help Western Slope communities thrive. Meanwhile, conservation and sporting groups question the governor's commitment to the environment, wondering why the state is pressing ahead with a plan when the Obama administration is in the process of creating a long-term policy that would protect 58 million acres of roadless area across the nation (via The Associated Press). The groups say a Colorado plan would provide the fewest protections in the nation because temporary roads would be allowed for reasons such as expanding existing coal mines.