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for people who care about the West

Recreation drives a forest

  Colorado's White River National Forest is a busy place. It hosts 11 ski areas - two-thirds of the state's downhill skiing - and attracts about 8.4 million visitors a year (HCN, 12/7/98). Recreation use has boomed, with four-wheel drive devotees wanting more roads, and cross-country skiers hoping for more huts for winter use.


Now, a draft of the forest's 15-year management plan, released this August, has sparked controversy. Vail Resorts, ATV drivers and some mountain bikers have protested the closing of roads and trails, while some environmental groups say the agency's preferred plan allows too much logging and not enough protection for the 2.3 million-acre forest.


Forest spokesman Lynn Kolund says the public comment period on the plan, which weighs a hefty 14 pounds, has been extended from three months to six months. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., was among those urging Forest Supervisor Martha Ketelle to allow more time; he has not taken a position on the plan's goal of greater protection for the forest and its natural resources.


The comment period ends Feb. 9, 2000. A 48-page summary is available from the White River National Forest Supervisor's Office, P.O. Box 948, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602. The entire plan is on the web at www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/planning.html.


* Ali Macalady and Karen Mockler