Federal government gets about 140,000 comments on roadless plan | PostIndependent.com

Federal government gets about 140,000 comments on roadless plan

Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The government has received about 140,000 comments about a plan for managing 4 million acres of roadless forest land that could open backcountry areas, important to big game and trout, to logging and other development. The deadline for public comment about the plan was Thursday.

That plan has drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups, who say those rules could open those lands up to significant oil and gas development. Lands that could see roads in roadless areas to service oil and gas leases include areas near Thompson Creek southwest of Carbondale and East Divide Creek near Sunlight Mountain Resort.

The state and the U.S. Forest Service are writing rules to enact a management plan for more than 300 sites scattered through national forests in Colorado.

The area is among roughly 58 million acres of land nationwide declared off-limits to new roads and development by the Clinton administration in 2001.

Critics, including environmental and hunting and fishing groups, argue Colorado’s proposal is weaker than the 2001 rule and would leave the state’s roadless areas less protected than comparable sites in every other state.