A seven-year process to protect Colorado’s backcountry and the hunting and angling resources it offers to sportsmen and women is done—the Colorado Roadless Rule is complete.
The rule, which protects 4.2 million acres of the Colorado backcountry, is a hand-crafted, Colorado-specific rule designed to manage the state’s best fish and game habitat. It ensures continued access to the backcountry by anglers and hunters, and it emphasizes the need to keep native cutthroat trout habitat healthy and intact.
In Colorado, roadless areas provide the majority of habitat for Colorado’s three subspecies of native cutthroat trout, as well as vital habitat for deer and elk. Roadless areas are important to sportsmen because they provide quality habitat needed for fish and game to thrive, which translates into hunting and fishing success in the field.
“Colorado’s anglers and hunters understand the connection between healthy fish and game habitat and their ability to fish and hunt successfully on land that belongs to all Americans,” said Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited’s president and CEO. “That’s why our volunteer members were engaged and involved in the Colorado rule-making process. This rule, while not perfect, sets the bar pretty high, and proves that sportsmen are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to protecting public lands and how they’re managed today, and in the future.”
David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, said he’s pleased that the rule added protections comparable or perhaps even better than those offered by the national Roadless Rule, including measures to safeguard habitat for Colorado’s native cutthroat trout.
“We recognize the need for flexibility to deal with issues like fuel reduction around communities,” said Nickum. “But the new rule pairs that flexibility with stronger protections for Colorado’s native trout heritage and its best backcountry lands. It strikes the right balance for Colorado.”
In all, the rule is comparable to the national Roadless Rule, which was put in place in 2001, and has been challenged several times in court. The national rule is currently in place, but challenges to its validity will likely continue. The Colorado rule was initiated in 2005, when states were given the option of taking the lead in crafting their own roadless management plans. Only Idaho and Colorado have done so.