Resolution overturning roadless area protection approved

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DENVER (AP) State and federal officials would be asked to help overturn a federal rule preventing some development on 4.43 million acres of national forest land in Colorado under a resolution adopted by a House committee Wednesday.

President Clinton in January announced the plan to ban road building and most logging on 58.5 million acres of national forest land, or about one-third of the country's national forests.

The announcement came after the Forest Service received about 1.6 million public comments and held about 600 public meetings across the country on the plan proposed in 1997.

The plan was attacked by Western Republicans and the timber, mining and energy industries as unfairly restrictive, and President Bush has delayed its effective date from March 13 to May 12 to give his administration time to review it.

House Resolution 1010 by Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, approved by the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, asks state and federal officials to work to overturn the rule or allow for some mineral leasing on the roadless lands.

Mining and energy industry representatives told committee members that in gathering public opinion on the proposal, the Forest Service failed to provide crucial information to allow for meaningful comment.

They also said the rule permanently protects from development areas that could hold rich deposits of oil, natural gas and other minerals.

Supporters of the rule said it was a reasonable step to preserve natural resources.

''It's not necessary to have motorized access to every foot,'' said Steve Smith, associate regional representative of the Sierra Club. ''It's hard to find a place in Colorado that's not two miles from a road.''

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