Today, the US Forest Service issued the Record of Decision for the Colorado Roadless Rule, finalizing a much-improved version of the Rule. After years of consultation and public engagement, this last step determines the management framework for 4.2 million acres of valuable backcountry landscapes in Colorado’s National Forests.
The final version of the Colorado Roadless Rule represents a significant milestone. It resolves long-standing uncertainty over the management of the roadless areas that provide the high quality backcountry recreation that Colorado is famous for. In the end, the Forest Service responded to all of the issues raised by Outdoor Alliance and strengthened the Rule at each step in the process.
Most notably, with the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement in May, the Forest Service doubled the acreage in the most protected, upper tier management category. Now at 1.2 million acres, these upper tier areas contain world-class hiking, mountain biking, paddling, climbing and backcountry skiing destinations. Last summer, Outdoor Alliance completed a detailed inventory of these important recreational assets (available here in Exhibit 3), many of which were then included in the upper tier.
Throughout this process, the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture have proved willing to make incremental changes based on input from user groups and the public. Outdoor Alliance has been engaged in this process throughout the creation and refinement of the Rule. We thank the USFS and the USDA for their leadership and commitment to protecting many of Colorado’s irreplaceable outdoor resources.
Our Colorado Roadless Project was recently featured on Outside Television. Click here to watch.