Friday, August 11, 2006
Roadless area rumble explained
If you've been paying even a little attention to the news lately, you've seen a lot about Colorado roadless areas and proposed drilling. But with all the agencies involved, it can get a little confusing.
Here's the cliff notes.
In the 1990s, the Clinton administration identified about 4 million acres of roadless areas on federal lands in Colorado and suggested they be kept roadless and pristine. This was seen by many as a federal land grab.
In 2001, the Bush administration overturned President Clinton's roadless policy, saying it gave too little decision-making power to the states. He asked state officials to recommend how Washington should handle the local roadless areas.
In response, Colorado set up a 13 -member task force with environmentalists, ranchers, state officials and others. The task force sought public comment, and 91 percent of the responses said they wanted to keep the states roadless areas roadless. The task force released a draft plan to the public this week recommending most areas be preserved, but allowing a few exceptions in ski area permits and a few existing mining areas.
Now, here's where it gets tricky.
The Bureau of Land Management auctioned more than 20,000 acres of that undeveloped land in an oil and gas lease sale Thursday. That will create lots of roads, with no local input.
Sen. Ken Salazar and his brother, 3rd Congressional District Rep. John Salazar, and a slew of local government officials and environmental groups, have protested the auction, saying it should have been postponed until Gov. Bill Owens sent the state's recommendations to Washington.
Owens has the right to request pending gas and oil lease sales be pulled, but the secretary of agriculture, who oversees the Forest Service, has the final say.
We'll see what happens
Posted by Dave Philipps at 7:03 AM