Colorado State University biology professor Barry Noon and three environmental groups are urging the U.S. Forest Service to provide more wildlife habitat protections in Colorado's roadless areas.
The Forest Service is proposing a new rule governing how more than 4 million acres of undeveloped roadless l and in the state's national forests will be managed. There are about 154,000 acres of roadless areas in Larimer County, including Greyrock northwest of Fort Collins.
The proposed rule, called the Colorado Roadless Rule, would allow Colorado's roadless areas to be managed differently from the 54 million other acres of roadless land scattered across the country. The Colorado rule would allow some logging, pipeline construction and other development to occur in national forest roadless areas.
During a news conference Tuesday, Noon said roadless areas are vital to wildlife populations and water quality because new roads promote the loss of wildlife habitat and increase sedimentation in watersheds while also increasing the chance for flooding.
Roadless areas are extremely important for wildlife because they serve as refuge areas for animals away from human interference, Noon said, calling new roads "permanent transformations of the landscape."
The Colorado Environmental Coalition, which is calling for an expansion of a specially protected category of roadless areas called "top-tier" areas, believes the Forest Service wants to allow too much logging, pipeline construction and other activities that will degrade the wild character of roadless areas, said coalition director Elise Jones.
She said some areas in Larimer County were left out of top-tier designation, particularly Greyrock.
The Forest Service is inviting the public to comment on the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule through July 14, and the agency is hosting a series of public forums on the rule through June 16.
A roadless rule public forum is scheduled for Fort Collins at 6 p.m. May 26 at the Roosevelt National Forest Supervisor's Office, 2150 Centre Ave., Building E.
Other environmental groups asking for greater roadless protections include the Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Wildlife Federation.