by David Frey, Aspen Daily News Correspondent
“I think the state has been on a learning curve with this,” said Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop, which says the state’s roadless protections are too weak. “Initially Gov. Ritter and the Department of Natural Resources had the perception that this was a no-brainer because there was a perception of 100 percent consensus and buyoff from all the stakeholders, but in fact that wasn’t really the case.”
Environmental groups have panned Ritter’s proposed roadless rules, meant to replace federal rules that have been at least temporarily struck down by federal court, as too full of loopholes to adequately protect 4.4 million acres of Colorado forest land free from roads.
In recent weeks, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), both environmentally oriented sportsmen’s groups, have released studies critical of the plan.
“We are concerned that the current draft rule has too little focus on protecting these valuable areas and too much focus on granting exceptions — some exceptions that are very broadly worded and could significantly undermine conservation of backcountry habitat,” David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, wrote to the Forest Service.