Posted on March 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The 2001 national roadless rule has been upheld by yet another federal court.
Federal court rejects Alaska challenge
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A national roadless rule that protects watersheds, buffers wilderness areas against invasive plants and provides habitat for wildlife has withstood its final legal challenge from the state of Alaska.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week rejected the same worn-out arguments that critics have been repeating for a decade or more, affirming the legality of the rule and protecting tens of millions of acres of roadless forest lands from logging and road building.
The court dismissed the state’s lawsuit for being filed after the six-year statute of limitations. Conservation groups who helped galvanize a citizens’ campaign in the late 1990s to protect America’s last wild national forest lands breathed a sigh of relief after more than a decade of legal challenges. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, forests, US Forest Service | Tagged: Earthjustice, Environment, national roadless rule, Roadless area conservation, roadless areas, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Critics continue to claim the rule creates de facto wilderness
Will the U.S. Supreme Court hear a challenge to the Forest Service roadless conservation rule?
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Eight states, numerous mining and ranching groups, along with several motorized recreation groups have joined the Colorado Mining Association in appealing the U.S. Forest Service’s national roadless rule to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In its petition to the Supreme Court, the Colorado mining group repeats the oft-rejected claim that the roadless rule was adopted in violation of federal environmental laws, and that the rule is “a sweeping usurpation of the authority vested solely in Congress to designate lands as wilderness.”
Even though federal appeals courts have rejected those legal challenges, at least one natural resource law expert thinks the array of heavyweight opposition could sway the Supreme Court’s conservative justices to take on the case.
The 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule limits road-building on about 58 million acres of national forest lands across the country. It was adopted after an extensive public process to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and in recognition of the fact that the Forest Service has a massive backlog of maintenance on the existing national forest road system. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado mining association, forest service roadless rule, Roadless area conservation, roadless rule legal challenge, U.S. Supreme Court | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
State continues to claim the Forest Service didn’t abide by federal environmental laws when it adopted the rule
Roadless areas are important reservoirs of biodiversity, help protect water quality and provide recreational opportunities.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — It appears that lawyers who have spent the last year wrangling over a roadless rule for about 50 million acres of national forest system lands will continue to battle, potentially before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The rule would protect relatively undisturbed areas from most intrusion and development, but maintain access for hunting and hiking.
Wyoming last week petitioned the Supreme Court to review the most recent decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which twice decisively rejected Wyoming’s claims that rule was adopted in violation of federal environmental laws — a far-fetched claim to begin with, given that the national roadless rule was subject to one of the most far-reaching public processes in the agency’s history. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Roadless area conservation, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, United States National Forest, Wyoming | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Outdoor industry, conservation groups call for broader protection, mining group says state version will save jobs
Roadless wrangling continues, but state rule is almost finalized.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While state and federal officials tout the collaboration that went into developing a new rule for managing roadless areas on Colorado’s national forest lands, the fact is that they were never able to fully reach a consensus with all the stakeholders.
That leaves the rule potentially vulnerable to a legal challenge and also leaves the management agencies open to criticism from powerful stakeholders, including the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association, representing more than 4,000 companies involved in making and selling outdoor gear.
The trade group is fully aligned with a broad coalition of conservation groups, which represent thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, and they’re all saying the same thing: Colorado’s cherished wild places deserve the highest level of protection, not the watered down guidelines in the state plan that potentially leave almost 3 million acres open to disturbance. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, public lands, White River National Forest | Tagged: Colorado, national forest roadless rule, Obama administration, Outdoor Industry Association, Roadless area conservation, United States Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Some lands with high conservation values get strong protection, other areas remain vulnerable
Click on the image to view all the maps of Colorado roadless areas.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After months of negotiation, state and federal leaders this week said they’ve reached agreement on a plan that “addresses the needs of Colorado’s unique and precious roadless areas.”
“We are committed to the protection of roadless areas on our national forests, areas vital for conservation of water resources, wildlife and for outdoor recreation,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a release. “These areas also provide an important driver of economic opportunity and jobs in rural Colorado communities.”
“The Forest Service cares deeply about protecting Colorado’s roadless areas,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Through collaboration, I believe we have developed a proposal that will afford better, lasting protection to these treasured areas, and we welcome additional comments in order to develop a successful approach for conservation of this special resource.” (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado roadless rule, Roadless area conservation, U.S. Forest Service roadless | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado's national forest lands, with roadless areas roughly depicted in blue. MAP COURTESY SOUTHERN ROCKIES ECOSYSTEM PROJECT.
Conservation groups favor national version
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — At long last, a roadless rule for more than 4 million acres of National Forest land in Colorado may get some final shape this week, as state and federal officials announce what they’re calling the “next steps” for a state-based version of the rule.
The roadless rule, in its various incarnations, would essentially prohibit road building on almost 60 million acres of public national forest land across the country, based on its value for wildlife, water, buffers against invasive species. In first proposing the rule, former Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck also talked about the almost overwhelming maintenance backlog on existing roads.
Read more Summit Voice coverage of the roadless saga here.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will unveil those next steps at a media event in Denver Wednesday (May 2), with the conservation community watching to see if the newest state version closes loopholes for water development, backcountry logging and energy extraction. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado, national forests, Roadless area conservation, roadless rule, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 29, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Politics and forest management don’t mix
Will the Forest Service ever finalize a roadless rule?
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s been so long since former U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck (serving under President Clinton) announced his vision for a national roadless rule that most people have probably forgotten his clear and elegant rationale: Roadless areas are crucial to protecting wildlife habitat, water quality and serve as buffers against invasive species. And, the Forest Service can’t even maintain its existing road system, so why even think about adding new roads.
Since 1998, the rule has been through several political wash-and-rinse cycles, not to mention the legal wringer. As with so many other major land-use decisions (energy development, for example), it’s become and exercise in process rather than a substantive debate about values and science. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado, Forest Service, Mark Udall, Roadless area conservation, roadless rule | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 17, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Roadless lands in Colorado.
Federal appeals court rejects rehearing of earlier challenge
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —The 2001 national forest roadless rule withstood yet another court test this week, as the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an effort by Wyoming to overturn the rule, which protects almost 60 million acres across the country from logging, mining and other development.
The latest ruling by the full appeals court came in response to a petition for a rehearing, filed jointly by Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association. Not a single member of the panel was in favor of looking at the case again, said Earthjustice staff attorney Ted Zukoski. A three-judge panel originally upheld the rule last October. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, Summit County news, US Forest Service | Tagged: forest service roadless rule, Roadless area conservation, roadless rule challenge rejected, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, United States Forest Service | 3 Comments »
Posted on August 23, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Dylan and Comet Berwyn enjoy a fine outdoors morning near Moab. Celebrate Great Outdoors Week — go camping!
Conservation activists and outdoor enthusiasts organize daily hikes and highlight threats to roadless areas
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado outdoor enthusiasts are celebrating the second annual Great Outdoors Week (Aug. 20-28) with a series of fun hikes and educational events aimed at highlighting potential threats to cherished backcountry areas.
A fierce Washington, D.C. ideological battle over public lands management, as well as continued controversy over a proposed Colorado roadless rule, serve as a backdrop for the activities, with Representative Diana DeGette highlighting what she describes as a special interest-driven attack on protections for backcountry areas.
“Here in Colorado, while my constituents and I are working with the Forest Service to keep the best of our backcountry forests protected, some in Congress are pushing on behalf of special interests to take those protections away entirely,” said DeGette. “Coloradans depend on these areas for our drinking water, our outdoor economy and our cherished way of life, and they must be preserved.”
In July, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1581, introduced by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, which would take away protections for national forest lands and Wilderness Study Areas, opening up an area the size of Wyoming to large-scale development. (more…)
Filed under: camping, Colorado, Environment, forests, hiking, recreation, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: Colorado, conservation, Diana DeGette, Environment, hiking, Outdoor Industry Association, outdoors, public lands, Roadless area conservation, Summit County News, United States House Committee on Natural Resources, Wilderness study area | 3 Comments »
Posted on July 20, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
California congressman wants to revoke roadless status for all federal lands
Will there ever be a roadless rule?
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In another twist to the seemingly endless saga of roadless land management, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy has introduced legislation that would lift what he calls restrictive management practices on inventoried roadless areas and terminate both the 2001 and 2005 versions of the national roadless rule.
“Millions of acres of land across the United States are being held under lock and key unnecessarily,” McCarthy said. “My bill acts on recommendations made by the government agencies managing these lands so they are opened up for increased public use. This is just common sense. By opening these lands up to residents of our local communities and across the country for their use and enjoyment, we can help create jobs, boost local economies and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.”
McCarthy’s bill is backed by motorized recreation groups, cattle rancher associations and the National Rifle Association. Some local fire chiefs in California also support the measure, saying it would make it easier to fight fires and to implement logging and forest health plans.
The bill has little chance of ever making through the U.S. Senate, but symbolizes the fierce partisan battle raging over public lands management. The measure is opposed by a broad coalition of groups representing hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The American Flyfishing Trade Association this week joined Trout Unlimited in blasting McCarthy’s bill as the “Attack on our Sporting Heritage Act. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, federal government, forests, recreation, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, water, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, conservation, Environment, Inventoried roadless area, Roadless area conservation, roadless lands, roadless rule, Summit County News | 1 Comment »