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Agriculture Secretary to Announce Final Roadless Rule

KUNC File Photo

In Denver this morning, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join Governor John Hickenlooper to unveil an expected final rule for managing some four million acres of roadless national forests in Colorado. 

While the exact details of the plan are not yet known, Colorado’s draft rule released a year ago called for tougher protections for certain, pristine forests. But it also offered exemptions for coal mine and ski resort expansions and for some logging to treat beetle killed trees in Roadless areas. 

These have not been without controversy.

"For us to be satisfied with any state-specific rule, it’s gotta be on par, equal to or more protective than the 2001 rule," said Peter Hart, staff attorney with the Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop. "We were a long way from that at the draft stage."

Only two states – Colorado and Idaho - proposed their own management plans when the Bush Administration overturned a 2001 national Roadless rule. 

Colorado’s state-specific final rule is more than five years in the making, but its future is uncertain.  That's because the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver recently upheld the national banon development in roadless forests that dates back to the Clinton Administration.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.