To make comment on the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule
• E-mail: COcomments@fsroadless.org.
• Mail: Roadless Area Conservation - Colorado, PO Box 162909, Sacramento, Calif., 95816-2909.
• Fax: 916-456-6724.
The comment period for the proposal is scheduled to remain open until Oct. 23. For more information about the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule, call 303-275-5567.
When local archery hunter Rick Harmon visits Black Mountain, he has one thought on his mind.
Black Mountain, in Moffat County's northeast corner, is one place where he goes to hunt the birds, he said.
Proposed changes to rules governing backcounty areas could affect Moffat County regions, including Harmon's hunting ground.
The proposed changes could hit home for local hunters and fishers.
Creation of a Colorado-specific version of the national 2001 Roadless Conservation Area Rule would allow construction of temporary roads in roadless areas. These parcels contain 5,000 acres or more of backcountry land and do not have Forest Service roads on them.
"Roadless areas, by definition, tend to contain some of our best remaining fish and wildlife habitat," said Katie McKalip, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership communications manager.
Harmon said any effect created by new roads in the Black Mountain area wouldn't be enough to deter him from hunting in the area again.
"I would probably still end up hunting that area because I'm limited to public property anyway," he said. "I'd take advantage of all the property I can."
Would the creation of new roads have a noticeable impact on his hunting experience?
"I guess it would be hard to say," Harmon said.
Proposed changes would allow the construction of temporary roads under some circumstances, including for the purpose of logging trees to reduce fire hazards, utility infrastructure maintenance and, in some cases, to explore and develop energy resources, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.
Areas around Black Mountain and other regions in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties are considered roadless areas, according to the Forest Service.
These areas combined encompass 103,600 acres.
"The proposed Colorado Roadless Rule would conserve the natural integrity and character of Colorado roadless areas," a news release from the U.S. Forest Service reported.
The proposed changes are a cause for apprehension for a representative from a conservation group.
"The big concern for us ... is the language is really open ended," said Joel Webster, roadless initiative manager for the Conservation Partnership, a group based out of Washington, D.C.
Changes to the 2001 rules are designed to correct inaccurate inventories, said Sharon Friedman, strategic planning director for the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain region.
When boundaries were drawn in 1979, some roadless areas included parcels with roads on them, she said, adding that the proposed changes remove those areas and add others that are roadless.
The proposal was created using public recommendations collected by a bipartisan task force. The Forest Service and the state then worked together to create a new plan that reflected the public's concerns, Friedman said.
However, the proposal isn't set in stone. The Forest Service is allowing the public to comment on the proposal until Oct. 23. An open house is scheduled for 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave., to provide more information about the proposed changes.
Friedman said locals should take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the roadless rule changes and comment on them.
"We put the flesh on the bones, and now we're asking people, 'Do you like the way this animal looks?'" she said.
Time will tell whether proposed changes will suit the wishes of Harmon and other residents who visit Black Mountain in search of a good hunt.
For more information about the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule, visit www. roadless.fs.fed.us/Colorado.shtml.