Denver, CO – Colorado hunters and anglers are uniting to urge the Colorado congressional delegation and governor to oppose harmful legislation that would undermine responsible public-lands management and conservation of key fish and wildlife habitat, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced today.
The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, H.R. 1581, would effectively overturn the 2001 Roadless Rule, a multiple-use management plan for 49 million acres of backcountry national forest lands in 37 states, and would cast doubt over the future of state-specific roadless rules for Colorado and Idaho.
The state of Colorado is nearing the end of a six-year public process to create a rule for the management of 4.2 million acres of national forest lands. have been working diligently to strengthen and improve the state-specific roadless rule and are invested in ensuring its success at a level that is, on balance, as strong as or stronger than the national rule.
A letter from the sportsmen to Colorado leaders states, “If passed, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act could eliminate the Colorado roadless rule and throw away years of stakeholder involvement while opening up millions of acres of backcountry public lands to development.” Roadless areas comprise the best public-lands fish and wildlife habitat in the country and provide equal-opportunity hunting and angling to all Americans.
“Colorado’s roadless areas represent the gold standard for wildlife habitat and backcountry hunting and fishing grounds,” said David Lien, vice chair of Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and a signatory of the letter. “Science shows that disturbances such as road building and poorly planned energy development can harm species important to sportsmen, such as mule deer, elk and wild trout. Currently, Colorado’s national forest backcountry accounts for 76 percent of greenback cutthroat trout habitat, 71 percent of Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat and 58 percent of Rio Grande cutthroat trout habitat. H.R. 1581 would jeopardize these valuable fisheries.”
“Colorado sportsmen have been using these backcountry lands for generations,” said Nick Payne, TRCP Colorado field representative, “and we don’t have many areas left that are as productive as these, both for fish and wildlife and hunting and angling. This legislation is a top-down effort to discard years of stakeholder involvement – both here in Colorado and nationally – and would diminish Colorado’s rural economies, as well as our outdoors way of life.”