Roadless, for now

  Colorado environmentalists stopped two roadless-area timber sales last month.

A federal judge agreed with a Colorado Environmental Coalition lawsuit when he told the Forest Service that the agency didn't properly account for the protection of two sensitive species, the northern goshawk and the boreal owl, in preparing the Trout Mountain timber sale on the Rio Grande National Forest. The agency claimed that goshawks need only a 30-foot undisturbed buffer zone around nesting sites, ignoring its own scientists' recommendations for over 400 acres.

And on the Grand Mesa National Forest, an appeal from a coalition including local ranchers, The Wilderness Society, and the Western Colorado Congress convinced Forest Service officials to turn back the Sheep Flats sale. Opponents argued that logging would expose snowpack to direct sun, causing rapid spring snowmelt that could bring floods and deprive irrigators of late-season water.

Regional Forester Lyle Laverty says that both sales are on hold until the Forest Service acts on Chief Mike Dombeck's proposed moratorium on building roads in roadless areas. That decision is expected toward the end of the year. A moratorium would likely block the Sheep Flats sale, but it exempts Rio Grande National Forest, so the Trout Mountain battle could continue if the Forest Service appeals.

*Gabriel Ross
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