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Autumn foliage lights up the Grand Mesa-Uncompaghre-Gunnison National Forest. .
Colorado Environmental Coalition

The Roadless Areas Review Task Force
In May of 2005, the administration formally repealed the 2001 Roadless Rule, and replaced it with a process requiring governors to petition the Department of Agriculture in order to seek protections for roadless areas. Under the new rule, governors have to submit a petition a potentially lengthy and expensive process requesting of the Department of Agriculture that roadless areas in their state be protected. These petitions were required to be submitted by the fall of 2006. Once a governor submitted a petition, there was no guarantee that it would be granted after review by a national task force, the federal government could choose to accept, modify, or outright reject a state's petition.

In Colorado, the state legislature created the Roadless Areas Review Task to advise the Governor in the petitioning process. The Task Force was comprised of 13 members, which included:

  • Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR): Russell George, Chair

  • four members appointed by the Governor: Joe Duda, Diane Hoppe, Josh Penry, David Ubell

  • two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives: Eddie Kochman & Steve Smith

  • two members appointed by the President of the Senate: Melanie Mills & Doug Young

  • two members jointly appointed by the Chair of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and the Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee: Tom Compton & David Peterson

  • two members appointed by mutual agreement and consent of the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President of the Senate: John Swartout & Jim Lochhead

The Task Force held public hearings and meetings around the state to discuss Colorado's roadless areas and identify any compelling reasons to shift the boundaries in the Roadless Rule. Even while the Task Force review process proceeded, roadless areas were increasingly subject to road-building and other disturbance from oil and gas development, mining, and logging. While some interim protections were in place, forest management plans proceeded which in some instances failed to protect these areas.

The Task Force ultimately recommended protection of 4.1 million acres of Colorado's inventories roadless areas. Notable exceptions were made for ski area expansion and coal development, in addition to fire management and emergency services already included in the 2001 Rule.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources has more information on the Task Force here.