After the Clinton Administration's 2001 "Roadless Rule" faced legal challenges, Colorado began an extensive process to develop its own plan for roadless protection. But then, the Clinton era rule got the legal green-light, and there were questions about whether Colorado would be able to continue with its own roadless plan. This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack endorsed the Colorado roadless plan, saying it includes "higher protections" and "fewer exceptions."
The new proposal contains some notable improvements - particularly in strengthening protections for 1.2 million acres of "Upper Tier" roadless backcountry lands. However, questions remain about how the rule addresses protection of native cutthroat trout and potential water development projects within backcountry areas.
The rule is currently available for a final round of 30 days of public review before a final record of decision is issued. Trout Unlimited is pleased by the improvements reflected in this latest version, but will use the 30 day period to carefully review the new proposed rule and the associated Environmental Impact Statement and work with the Forest Service to ensure that backcountry resources including native trout receive the protection they need.