The Colorado Roadless Project and the Outdoor Alliance have a cool new campaign promoting their efforts to protect Colorado's 4.2 million acres of National Forest lands currently designated as "Roadless Areas" for mountain biking, hiking, climbing, paddling, backcountry skiing and snowboarding, and other outdoor activities. They're breaking out the big guns on the economic front, too, arguing that backcountry access is critical to our state's $10 billion annual outdoor recreation economy and more than 100,000 outdoor recreation-related jobs, and thus outweighs the economic benefits of natural resource extraction and other arguments for building new roads in the wilderness.
the organization is promoting adventure travel to some of those Roadless Areas, with highlighted trips including hiking Mt. Elbert (Colorado's highest peak at 14,433') in Pike-San Isabel National Forest's Mt. Elbert Roadless Area; climbing Independence Pass in the White River National Forest's North Independent "Upper Tier" Roadless Area; mountain biking the Colorado Trail (Jefferson Roadless Area) and the Monarch Crest Trail (Chipeta Roadless Area) in Pike-San Isabel National Forest and Mountain Bike Trail 4-1 in Gunnison National Forest's Elk Mountain-Collegiate Roadless Area; paddling the Animas River in the San Juan National Forest's East Animas Roadless Area; and more. If you've never been to any of those places you might not have much of a stake in protecting them, but rest assured they're worth protecting.
A mountain biker explores a currently protected Roadless Area near Crested Butte, CO
Photo via ColoradoRoadlessProject.com
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Here's more, from the site's Take Action page, where they're urging supporters to send letters to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack:
Colorado's backcountry is human-powered recreation paradise. Whether it's riding Monarch Crest trail, backcountry skiing at Berthoud Pass, paddling the Animas, bouldering at Independence pass, or simply hiking up Mount Ebert, Colorado's backcountry has it all. Right now, through the Colorado Roadless Rule, the U.S. Forest Service is trying to come up with a plan to take care of these places. We can help make sure they are taken care of the right way by giving the Forest Service some input from the human-powered outdoor recreation world.
After almost 10 years of development, the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule is close, but not quite on the right track. Our goal is to make sure the rule is as strong or stronger than existing roadless protections elsewhere in the country. The way to get there is to close some development loopholes and greatly increase the number of mountains, crags, trails and rivers in the "Upper Tier" category of protection. Comments from our community carry quite a bit of weight in matters like these, so drop the Forest Service a line and help us take care of Colorado's backcountry roadless gems so that they keep giving us clean air and water, a home for wild things to thrive and a places for us to paddle, climb, ride, hike and ski.