Sunday, November 13, 2005
Thirty Steamboat Springs businesses have agreed to help support the preservation of roadless areas on Colorado's National Forest lands.
At a meeting Tuesday morning on the Colorado Mountain College campus, local environmental activists will kick off an effort to revive standards set by the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, approved in 2001 and overturned by the administration of President Bush earlier this year.
What: Meeting to build support for the preservation of roadless areas on Colorado's national forest lands
When: 10 a.m. Tuesday
Where: Bogue Hall on the Colorado Mountain College campus, 1330 Bob Adams Drive
Linda Wells, a field organizer for the Western Colorado Congress, said Steamboat businesses, including Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Moose Mountain Trading Company, The Gallery Hair Salon, Creekside Cafe & Grill, Backdoor Sports Ltd., and All That Jazz have pledged to support the effort.
The 2001 rule applied protections against development to more than 4.4 million acres of national forest land in Colorado. Opponents of the rule say it hinders logging, mining and energy development in forest areas.
The Bush administration replaced the 2001 rule with a process that requires state governors to petition the Department of Agriculture for the protection of specified National Forest lands in their states.
Governor Bill Owens and the Colorado Legislature created the Roadless Areas Review Task Forces to advise the governor in the petition process. That task force is hosting public hearings across Colorado to discuss the issue. The first hearing was in Delta on Nov. 2, and the last is in Denver on July 19.
The task force will host a hearing in Steamboat Springs on May 18.
John Spezia, a board member of the conservation-oriented Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, said that although Steamboat's hearing is months away, Tuesday is not too early to begin discussing the controversial issue.
"We want to get the word out so the dialogue can occur," he said, citing opposition from logging companies and users of motorized off-road vehicles.
Along with Spezia, Kent Vertrees of Steamboat Powder--cats and Rich Lezy of the local Sierra Club chapter will speak at Tuesday's meeting, and they will describe why they think protection of roadless areas is important for recreation, water quality, wildlife and the economy in Routt County.