November 10, 2008

Conservation Groups Oppose Land Plan

Conservation groups say proposed rules for governing Colorado's eight national forests expose too much land to roads and development.

The proposed rule would open at least 300,000 acres to roads for utility lines, oil and natural gas development, coal mining, tree harvesting and ski resorts, The Denver Post reported Monday.

"The risk is turning back country into front country," said Chris Hunt, a spokesman for Trout Unlimited, noting his group's analysis found 75 of the 79 areas in Colorado with the best water quality for cutthroat trout are in roadless areas of the parks.

U.S Forest Service officials said each project proposed for roadless areas would be evaluated on a case by case basis to ensure wildlife is not harmed.

"If there is a threat to wildlife, I'd be surprised if we'd go forward," said Kathy Kurz, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service.