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Udall Sends Letter to President Obama Urging Swift Approval of Colorado Roadless Rule

Praises Locally-Driven and Collaborative Public Process

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012

Last week, Mark Udall sent a letter to President Obama urging him to quickly approve a Colorado Roadless Rule that has been under development since 2005 in order to alleviate uncertainty for communities and businesses.  A thorough, locally-driven public process took into consideration hundreds of thousands of public comments to produce a rule that protects 4.2 million acres of Colorado backcountry.  These National Forest lands are storehouses for clean water and protecting them also ensures that skiers and hikers have beautiful vistas, anglers have clean streams in which to fish, and hunters have healthy big-game herds. These resources attract visitors from all over the nation and world and are a critical component of our quality of life.

"Coloradans can and should be proud of this process; hard work, compromise and dedication to transparency produced a compromise in which almost no party got everything it wanted, but nearly all have agreed is fair.  I believe this collaborative work deserves recognition," Udall wrote in the letter.  "Delays in the adoption of a Colorado Roadless Rule have led to confusion and uncertainty and I urge its approval as soon as possible."

The Colorado Roadless Rule was developed in an open and transparent process by Coloradans from a wide range of backgrounds including state and local elected officials, representatives from the ski industry, and the ranching, water law, forest management and environmental communities. The Rule protects 4.2 million acres while allowing some limited flexibility based on legitimate needs, such as to address forest-fire threats and insect infestations near certain communities, to accommodate ski area management, to continue underground coal production in the North Fork coal mining area, and to access and maintain water and utility corridors.  However, because of a recent 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, some have urged the president to set aside this extensive public process and instead impose a federal rule. A swift approval of the Colorado Roadless Rule will acknowledge the collaborative work that has been underway since 2005, and provide certainty for our land managers, small businesses, and the public.

Please contact Tara Trujillo at 202-224-4334.

To see the letter, click HERE; the text of the letter follows:

President Barack Obama
The White House

Dear President Obama:

As an outdoorsman and a Coloradan, I highly value our public lands and the multiple uses they support, including water, timber, minerals and recreational opportunities.  I have long believed that the best way to protect our public lands is to work with stakeholders and the public in an open and transparent process to ensure any proposal affecting land use will improve the environment, economy and local communities.

The Colorado Roadless Rule that your team is currently reviewing is a prime example of this process.  As you know, the rule has been under development since 2005 and has gone through a painstakingly thorough public process spanning the administrations of three Governors.  The Colorado Roadless Area Review Task Force was composed of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, including state and local elected officials, representatives from the ski industry, and the ranching, water law, forest management and environmental communities. Thousands of Coloradans weighed in with their views, and countless stakeholder groups worked together to find common ground.

The state and the U.S. Forest Service ultimately produced a rule that protects 4.2 million acres of Colorado backcountry from development while allowing some limited flexibility based on legitimate needs.  Exceptions were allowed to address forest-fire threats and insect infestations near certain communities, to accommodate ski area management, to continue underground coal production in the North Fork coal mining area, to access and maintain water and utility corridors, to control and clean up pollution, and to develop oil and gas on pre-existing leases. Coloradans can and should be proud of this process; hard work, compromise and a dedication to transparency produced a compromise in which almost no party got everything it wanted, but nearly all have agreed is fair.  I believe this collaborative work deserves recognition.

Delays in the adoption of a Colorado Roadless Rule have led to confusion and uncertainty and I urge its approval as soon as possible.  I appreciate your consideration and look forward to finally having a rule in place that provides certainty to land managers, small businesses and the public.

 
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