If approved by the federal government, a proposal submitted by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to manage the states 4.2 million acres of roadless national forest would make it easier for ski areas to expand in those areas.  Ritter, a Democrat, asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to adopt Colorados roadless rule and roadless inventory.


Colorado began pursuing its own rules for roadless areas in national forests after court challenges to the national Roadless Area Conservation Rule adopted by the Clinton Administration in 2001.

That rule prohibited development of some roadless forests. The Bush Administration reopened some of those areas to potential development in 2005, but the Obama administration has reinstated most of the 2001 rule and pledged to defend it in court. It also ordered a one-year moratorium on development of the roadless areas, while the court cases are pending.


The revised Colorado plan proposes adding 400,000 roadless acres missed in 2001 and eliminating a loophole that would have allowed construction projects in all roadless areas while creating more flexibility for community wildfire protection, ski slope expansions and coal mine operations.