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Tell the Forest Service to Protect Colorado's Backcountry Forests

Posted: 10/03/2008
By: Nathan Fey

Preserving National Forest Roadless Areas Will Protect Cherished Rivers Across Colorado And The West

Your Comments to the US Forest Service Needed by October 23rd. (TAKE ACTION NOW)

The headwaters of our nation’s most iconic southwestern rivers originate in Colorado’s Roadless areas and Wilderness, flowing from 14,000-foot peaks towards 13 states and Mexico. Rivers offer a unique way to experience the Colorado Plateau by water offering unique corridors of travel, few of which have eluded road building, railroad building, logging, and settlement.  The last remaining wild rivers are invaluable to Americans who prefer to experience nature in their canoes, kayaks and rafts, and they offer protection for endangered species, globally rare riparian habitat, and reliable sources of clean water. 

Rivers flowing through Roadless areas in Colorado include the Los Pinos, Piedra, Hermosa Creek, Mad Creek, Saint Vrain River, Conejos River, and Lime Creek. Many additional rivers are bordered by Roadless areas that define their superb scenery and water quality.  These include most notably the Upper Animas River, Cache la Poudre, Elk River, and the Taylor River.  The Animas, Poudre, and Taylor Rivers are commercially rafted by large numbers of citizens, supporting significant regional economies.   

A big part of these river experiences are their settings, which are in the heart of Forest System Roadless Areas.  Roadless Areas are not quite wilderness, but they feel that way, they also tend to be more accessible and open to a variety of sustainable recreational pursuits.  Roadless Areas make up about 31% of our National Forests and are ecological gems with clean air, water and plenty of wildlife. 
Right now there is a proposed national rulemaking to decide the fate of Colorado's backcountry roadless areas. Even though Americans already decided to protect ALL roadless areas in the Forest System back in 2001, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a new management plan that will substantially weaken the protections these areas currently have.

This situation arose out of Colorado Governor Ritter’s desire to establish an insurance policy for the state's backcountry roadless areas given legal uncertainty with the 2001 rule. The problem is that while the governor can request an “insurance policy”, federal policy makers back in DC are the ones drafting  the terms of the policy, and their Proposed Rule is a poor deal for citizens of the state. Protections for backcountry forests have been substantially weakened over the 2001 rule and new loopholes have been opened to further degrade the quality of these precious lands. Your comments are needed to close the loopholes.

To Protect these Experiences We Need Your Help Today

The Colorado Roadless Rule is now open for comment public. Though we still think the 2001 rule offers the best protection of these profoundly important resources, there certainly are a number of ways to improve the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule so that taking care of Colorado’s open spaces, wild landscapes and intact ecosystems are a top priority. Watch the video below to learn more. Tell the Forest Service what you think!




Colorado Stewardship Director

Nathan Fey

1601 Longs Peak Ave.

Longmont, CO 80501

Phone: 303-859-8601
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Associated Projects

Forest Planning (CO)

AW is involved in a number of different Forest Planning efforts in Colorado, working directly with the public and the United States Forest Service to secure better protections for rivers.

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