4:50 PM, August 3, 2009
Colorado is one of two states in the nation that took advantage of a 2005 Bush administration offer that allowed it to set roadless policy for national forest land within its borders. The other state to do so, Idaho, hewed fairly close to Clinton-era standards, but environmental groups have since accused Colorado of not doing enough to protect its remote areas.
On Monday, Colorado released the latest version of its roadless plan, expanding the number of acres protected to 4.2 million from 4 million and eliminating a controversial provision that would have allowed the construction of temporary roads to allow ranchers to access grazing lands. But environmental groups charged that the new Colorado standards are still far looser than those under President Clinton. The Obama administration has put back in place many of those Clinton-era regulations.
"The Colorado plan would open some of the Rocky Mountain West's best backcountry and pristine watersheds to mining, oil and gas development, logging and road-building," Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environmental Group's public lands program, said in a statement.
The clock begins ticking on a 60-day public comment period before the new Colorado regulations go into effect.
-- Nicholas Riccardi