Great victory for National Forest roadless areas! Federal Court Reinstates the 2001 Roadless Rule
October 21, 2011 Denver, CO – "The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited, landmark decision today, securing critical legal protections for nearly 50 million acres of pristine National Forest lands. These forests offer outstanding opportunities for hunting, fishing, and hiking, produce clean water for thousands of communities nationwide, and provide irreplaceable habitat for imperiled wildlife species including grizzly bears, lynx, and Pacific salmon. The appellate court reversed a lower court decision and affirmed the validity of the Roadless Rule – a 2001 federal rule that protects wild national forests and grasslands from new road building, logging, and development."
Read more in the press release from Earthjustice, The Wilderness Society, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Wyoming Outdoor Council and the Sierra Club.
Colorado conservation groups are generally agreed that this reinstatement of the 2001 Roadless Rule eliminates the need for a separate plan for Colorado that has been in the works here for several years. The "Colorado roadless rule" was promoted as “an insurance policy” when thenationalrule’s legal status was in doubt. Now the way is clear for the Obama administration to fulfill its promise to enforce thenational rule.
Colorado Roadless Rule
Final Colorado Roadless Rule
includes nearly 150,000 acres in a more protective "upper tier" category.
Go to the Roadles Rule page for more details and a map of the Pike-San Isabel Colorado Roadless Areas.
The final Colorado Roadless Rule and Environmental Impact Statement for 4.2 million acres of National Forest roadless areas in Colorado was announced on May 2nd by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Governor John Hickenlooper.
Improvements over previous versions of the Colorado rule include designating 1.2 million acres in an “Upper Tier” category with increased protection. Nearly 150,000 acres of upper tier areas are on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, including many important areas adjacent or near existing designated Wildernesses. These include part of Rampart East, Burning Bear, Square Top Mountain, Romley, Aspen Ridge, Badger Creek, Little Fountain Creek, part of Tanner Peak, and areas adjacent to Mt. Evans, Holy Cross, Collegiate Peaks, Buffalo Peaks, Sangre de Cristo and Greenhorn Mountain Wildernesses
The other 3 million roadless acres across Colorado are subject to some exceptions related to thinning for wildfire or activities associated with pre-existing utility and water rights.
Bruno Creek in Burning Bear roadless area - an attempt to reintroduce threatened greenback cutthroat trout many years ago was not successful. Photo Jean C. Smith
A snoe shoe hare is almost invisible in the snow of Burning Bear. Good lynx food! Photo Jean C. Smith
Square Top Mountain and Burning Bear are separated from Mt. Evans Wilderness to the east only by the Guanella Pass Road. Photo Mike Foster
Pike-San Isabel Colorado Roadless Areas (CRAs)
On this low resolution map, designated Wildernesses are shown in blue-green for the PSI and dark green for adjacent forests. CRAs are the areas with a red diagonal hatch.
Go here to download a high resolution PDF of this map (1 MB)
Click on the map to download a high resolution map (1 MB)
Upper Tier for the Pike-San Isabel National Forest incresed to 149,900 acres
Approximately 4.19 million acres of Colorado’s National Forest lands are identified as “Colorado Roadless Areas” (CRAs), under the Colorado Roadless Rule. There was a dramatic increase of “upper tier” designations to 1.2 million acres – twice as much as earlier versions
Nearly 775,000 acres of the Pike-San Isabel National Forest are CRAs, and of that almost 150,000 acres (19%) have been given “upper tier” designation. A very dramatic increase, since the earlier version was close to zero! Upper tier areas are given more protection from tree cutting, construction of pipeline and utility corridors, and temporary road building than are non-upper tier areas.
Square Top Mountain and Burning Bear along the Guanella Pass Road, Aspen Ridge and Badger Creek along the Arkansas River, part of Rampart East, as well as areas adjacent to Mt. Evans, Buffalo Peaks, Collegiate Peaks, Sangre de Cristo and Greenhorn Mountain Wildernesses are in this upper tier category.
You can find the Colorado Roadless Rule documents here.
Here are some of the roadless areas that get upper tier protection.