Roadless plan endorsed for Colorado |

Roadless plan endorsed for Colorado

DENVER ” A federal advisory panel has recommended, with a few teaks, approval of Colorado’s petition to keep development off the bulk of 4.1 million acres of roadless national forest land in the state.

The recommendation now goes to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, who will make the final decision. The state and U.S. Forest Service will then write rules implementing the plan, expected to take about 18 months.

The advisory panel called Colorado’s petition, which was written by a task force, “a model of public process.” Members suggested tightening language allowing temporary roads for wildfire protection and other activities to address environmental concerns

Colorado’s petition was written before a federal judge overturned a Bush administration rule that opened at least a third of the country’s roadless forests to development. A 2001 rule by the Clinton administration that bans new roads on 58.5 million acres of forest land is again in effect.

Some Coloradans want the state to withdraw its petition and just apply the 2001 rule. Gov. Bill Ritter has said the petition is an insurance police because the legal wrangling over the rule is expected to continue.

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