Group recommends wilderness areas

DENVER (AP) A citizens' group has recommended designating more federal wilderness areas in Colorado, boosting its previous proposal by 245,519 acres to a total of 1.6 million acres.

The Colorado Wilderness Network announced its plan Wednesday

''We'll be formally asking them to support our proposal,'' said Cindy Harding, spokesman for the coalition.

Most of the 1.6 million acres are managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Many of the new proposed sites are in rugged canyons on the Western Slope that the coalition said are threatened by the Bush administration's push to increase oil and gas drilling on public lands.

''The oil and gas industry already has access to 90 percent of Colorado's BLM lands, and the Bush administration's energy plan proposes to give them the rest of our areas as well,'' said Suzanne Jones, assistant regional director for The Wilderness Society.

Colorado has 3.3 million acres of official wilderness, which is off-limits to development and motorized vehicles.

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