Background      The Roadless Rule, Colorado Roadless Petition & Obama Administration Proposed Rule      Roadless Areas Inventory
    Background Main

Fog in the Wet Mountain Valley, with the Sangres in the distance.    Naomi Yoder

Forest Service Inventories
In the 1970s, Congress directed the Forest Service to survey the lands it managed, and evaluate them for wilderness character. As part of this Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE I and RARE II), the Forest Service identified all areas of over 5,000 acres in size that were free from roads.

In some areas, these lands continued to be managed to preserve their roadless character; in others, the pressures of energy development, mining, drilling, timber harvesting, and increasing off-road vehicle use led to the construction of thousands of miles of additional roads through these areas. In still other areas, however, lands that once contained roads for mining or lumber operations have long since been abandoned, and the landscape is returning to its natural state.

As part of the process leading to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, the Forest Service completed a more detailed analysis of roadless areas, called Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs). The RARE II areas that had been designated as Wilderness were not included in this 2001 analysis. IRAs were categorized as 1) roadless areas recommended for Wilderness; 2) roadless areas where road construction and reconstruction is prohibited; and 3) areas where road construction and reconstruction is allowed. It is those roadless areas in this last category that are most at risk. 

Erosion damage in the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, photographed as part of the Citizens' roadless inventory.
Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project

Citizens' Inventories
In the last several years, citizens groups around the state* have undertaken their own inventory of roadless areas. This citizens? inventory was intended to be more thorough, more up-to-date, and more accurate than the Forest Service?s inventories. Coordinated by a coalition of conservation organizations, this effort utilized the Forest Service?s standard definition of a ?road,? and applied a formal set of protocols and rigorous data standards. Citizens? inventories were performed in the field by volunteers and expert professionals using the latest technology: GPS (Global Positioning System) units and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping. This intensive data-collection project has lead to a more complete and accurate map of truly roadless areas in Colorado.


*San Juan Citizens Alliance (SJCA), Citizens for the Arapaho-Roosevelt (CFAR), Wild Connections (Upper Arkansas and South Platte Project - UASPP), White River Conservation Project (WRCP), High Country Citizens Alliance (HCCA), Western Slope Environmental Resource Council (WSERC), San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC), the Colorado Environmental Coalition (CEC), and the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project (SREP)

Additional Maps

All Citizens' Identified Boundaries

US Forest Service Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA) Boundaries

More Maps