Denver (AP) Colorado started the task Friday of helping decide the fate of about 4 million acres of roadless areas on national forest land. A task force appointed by the governor and legislative leaders will study the use of the public lands. the group has 16 months to come up with recommendations for Governor Bill owens.
Owens then has until next November to petition the federal
government to keep development off all, or some, of the roadless areas. The final decision will come from the agriculture secretary, who oversees the forest service.
The Bush administration set up the petition process after
approving a policy that could open about 1/3 of the nation's roadless forest land to logging and other development.
The policy replaces a Clinton–era rule that banned development on roughly 58 million roadless acres. Supporters believe the new policy gives states and local communities more say, but opponents claim preserving the roadless areas is important to protect wildlife, watersheds and recreation.
Environmental groups are suing the Bush administration to try to reinstate the Clinton administration's rule.
Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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