Led by the Outdoor Alliance and Outdoor Industry Association, a broad coalition of human-powered outdoors recreation groups and businesses today asked Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to protect Colorado’s outdoors by implementing revisions into a draft rule for management of the state’s national forest roadless areas.


The consortium stressed the importance of public-lands roadless areas in sustaining both Colorado’s recreational opportunities and its economy, and it emphasized that the proposed Colorado roadless rule currently does not ensure that these valuable lands will be appropriately managed.


“The availability of high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities is a major contributing factor to the quality of life in Colorado,” said Kim Coupounas, cofounder and chief sustainability officer of GoLite, an outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer based in Boulder that signed the recreationists’ letter to the governor. “Simply put, many of our members and customers live and work in Colorado because of the recreational opportunities.”


Members of the outdoors industry and outdoors groups have been meeting with representatives from the state and U.S. Forest Service throughout the development of the Colorado roadless rule, which was initiated in 2007. Many in the outdoors community have raised concerns that the rule, as presently drafted, fails to adequately protect the backcountry and is in need of specific changes and clarifications.   


Colorado roadless areas provide some of the best recreation opportunities in the state,” said Nathan Fey, fourth-generation Coloradan and Colorado stewardship director of American Whitewater, a signatory of the coalition’s letter. “Rivers like the Cache la Poudre, the Piedra and Oh Be Joyful Creek are iconic whitewater runs that are valued for their high-quality roadless character.”


Colorado’s 345 roadless areas comprise approximately 4.4 million acres. Active outdoor recreation contributes more than $10 billion annually to the Colorado economy, supporting 107,000 jobs in the state and generating $500 million annually in state tax revenue.  


“Roadless areas in Colorado’s national forests have played a significant role in our state’s economic vitality and especially so as these special landscapes have provided for world-renowned outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Mike Van Abel, executive director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, which also signed the recreationists’ letter to the governor. “The allure of the wild quality of these ecologically vital forests is what inspires outdoor enthusiasts to advocate for and partner with the U.S. Forest Service and the state of Colorado to ensure future generations have opportunities for adventure and solitude that we enjoy today.”


Those signing the letter included Brady Robinson, Executive Director, Access Fund; Kenny Ballard, President, Kelty; Mike Van Abel, Executive Director, International Mountain Bicycling Association; Brad Mushovic, Executive Director, Outward Bound Wilderness; Kim Coupounas, CEO and Co-Founder, GoLite; Nathan Fey, Colorado Stewardship Director, American Whitewater; Chip Coe, President, SmartWool; Dan Grunig, Executive Director, Bicycle Colorado; Leslie Tyson, President, Colorado Whitewater Association; Paul Gagner, President, Sierra Designs; Keith Baker, CEO, The Trailhead; Roger Schimmel, Chairperson, Red Mountain Pass Chapter/Backcountry Snowsports Alliance; Mike Bellick, President, Slumberjack; Rodney Smith, President, Backpacker’s Pantry Colorado Kayak Supply; David Secunda, Program Director, Avid4 Adventure; Greg Floyd, President and Owner, Bent Gate Mountaineering; Lee Hart, President, Brand Amp; Lou Patterson, Principal, Category One, Confluence Kayaks; Sam Mix, Marketing Manager, Osprey; Kay Martin, President, Headsweats; Mike Pritchard, Director, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association; Bob Wade, Owner, Ute Mountaineer; John Moore, ITW Publishing; Deb Read, President, Mosaic Community Project; Fred Knapp, President and Co-Founder, Sharp End Publishing; Terry Malouf, President, Terry Malouf Consulting; Dayna Macey, Director of Communications, Backpacker Magazine, Andrew Mattox, CEO, Alpaca Raft; Leslie Lovejoy, Director, Friends of the Routt; Jonathan Lantz, President, La Sportiva; Rob Shurr, President, Kickstand Integrated Marketing, Smoky Anderson, President, Smokey Anderson Inc; Tom Gordon, President, Great Plains Mountain Stuff;  Julia Wieck, Owner, TONIC.