Ski resorts and other developments possible in proposal to use protected land in Colorado

Posted By: The Ski Channel on April 6, 2010 3:56 pm

Today, Colorado governor Bill Ritter submitted a revised state petition to the federal government on managing millions of acres of remote national forest land. Ritter petitions for an additional 400,000 acres of land that were missed under the originally proposed plan of 2001 and allows some activity on up to 30,000 acres of the 4.2 million acres in Colorado’s roadless inventory.

Ski areas could expand within 14 ski permit boundaries and three existing coal mines would also be able to drill vents to expand.

In 2001, the Clinton administration declared this and other similar land types off-limits to new roads and development. The Bush administration opened some of it up in 2005, and now Gov. Ritter wants a whole lot more opened up. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote in a press release today: “I’m confident that working with the Governor and with the public, we will craft a final rule that is, on balance, at least as protective of roadless areas — and preferably more protective — than the 2001 Roadless Rule.”

What this comes down to is a fight between state and federal powers. Members of The Wilderness Society feel a state-specific rule unnecessary. They want President Obama to implement a national rule regarding protected lands.

On the other side are groups like the Colorado Wildlife Federation (made up of hunters, anglers and conservationists) who believe the Colorado state plan includes better protections for wildlife conservation than it had previously.

We’ll keep you updated as this story progresses.