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Public Comment Period Closes for Colorado Roadless Rule

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The U.S. Forest Service is expected to make a decision about Colorado’s Roadless Rule by the end of the year.  The final public comment period for the proposal wrapped up Thursday with nearly 55,000 responses from across the state.

The current proposal would provide the highest tier of protection for half a million acres, or about 13% of Colorado’s 4.2 million acres of roadless National Forest land.  That percentage is significantly less than what advocates were hoping for.  They're calling for three million acres – about 70% -  to fall into the most protected category. 

“We view protecting wilderness areas as a strategic investment in wildlife, healthy lifestyles and sustainable domestic employment,” says Craig Mackey with the Outdoor Industry Association.  The organization says recreation and tourism is a $10 billion industry in Colorado, providing more than 100,000 jobs and $500 million in state revenues.

The proposal would keep new roads out of roadless areas and prevent tree cutting - but with a few exceptions.  Under the latest plan a road could be built within a half mile of the edge of a roadless area inside a community protection zone. These zones are areas where logging trees would protect homes and businesses from wildfire – especially in parts of the state where bark beetles have killed large numbers of trees.

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