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Heritage Forests Campaign News Release

November 13, 2006

Dave Bard, 202.486.4426
John Anthony, 202.277.2103

Statement of Mat Jacobson, Deputy Director, Heritage Forests Campaign

On Colorado's Roadless Area Petition

"Governor Owens' petition falls short of the protections requested by the overwhelming majority of Coloradans and rolls back the federal safeguards that were recently restored.

"It's unfortunate that Gov. Owens would use his remaining time in office to weaken protection for Colorado's roadless areas. These areas are valued for their recreational opportunities, sources of clean drinking water, cherished hunting and fishing spots and wildlife habitat. They're disappearing and their loss should not be hastened by logging or oil and gas drilling.

"We hope that Governor-elect Bill Ritter will withdraw the petition to ensure the complete protection of Colorado's roadless areas."


  • On September 20, 2006, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that the Bush administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it repealed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Furthermore, the court ruled that adoption of the state-by-state petition process as a substitute for the national rule was illegal.

  • When the court reaffirmed the 2001 rule, protections for roadless areas were restored and all previously filed petitions have since been withdrawn. In light of the ruling, Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey invited states to submit petitions seeking state-specific rules. With the illegal 2005 rule struck down by the courts, States are free to submit (or not to submit) such petitions at any time - there is no longer an arbitrary deadline. To date, only Idaho has filed such a petition.

  • Governor Owens' petition, at this time, seeks to remove protections from Colorado's wildlands and impose a federal rule on the incoming governor.

  • During several public participation processes, Coloradans have made clear their overwhelming support for full protection of all Colorado's roadless areas. The Colorado Division of Wildlife has also strongly supported the full range of protections in the original roadless rule as essential to the health of the state's wildlife populations.

  • It should be noted that at the time of Governor Tim Kaine's election in Virginia, the Department of Agriculture withheld action on the petition submitted by his predecessor, Governor Mark Warner, until that petition was re-affirmed by Governor Kaine.

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