Friday, March 7, 2008

Roadless "Backsliding"

Recall that yesterday we commented that Taylor West gave Politicker a laundry list of the reasons that Mark Udall just couldn't be concerned about left wing attacks on military recruiters in Berkeley and Times Square:

"Mark Udall believes Congress has much more important work to do – on everything from the lagging economy, to skyrocketing oil prices, to getting our kids covered with health care, to ending the war in Iraq in a responsible way – than micromanaging the budgets of cities for the sake of political gamesmanship," [ Taylor ] West said in the statement.

What is the biggest potential problem facing Colorado, and is it on this list? How about 1.5 million acres of dead and dying trees? If those trees catch fire, mountain homes and towns could burn, the watershed would be badly damaged, if not destroyed, tourism would die, and hunting and fishing ruined for our lifetime.

Why is that problem not on the list? Did Taylor West just forget, or is her boss, Mark Udall, telling her to ignore it? To fix the problem, to the degree that it can be fixed would require building forest roads to allow fire breaks to be built.

They are apparently doing that in Idaho but the environmentalists are none too happy:

“Back off. Just drop the whole mess,” says Craig Gehrke, regional director of The Wilderness Society in Idaho. “Just stick with the 2001 rule. This whole fight for roadless areas is needless.”

Idaho’s petition cuts out about 500,000 roadless acres, but the state promised to keep protections in place for the remainder of 9 million acres. [ Craig ] Gehrke worries wildfire provisions weaken the proposal, though, by giving the state more “wiggle room” to blaze roads.

“They’re backsliding on it,” he says.

Idaho is trying to do the smart thing, but the environmentalists on Bill Ritter's staff are trying to keep Colorado roadless and vulnerable:

A similar battle is taking place in Colorado. Environmentalists are pressing [ Bill ] Ritter, who has spoken in favor of roadless protections, to stick with the federal rule...

Colorado’s former Gov. Bill Owens, R, submitted a roadless plan that was praised for protecting most areas. Environmentalists blasted his successor, Bill Ritter, D, though, accusing him of weakening roadless protections when he decided to largely stick with that plan...

And, where is Mark Udall on this issue. He opposes roads, and collects hefty donations from roadless advocates. Care to guess why Taylor West left this Colorado centic issue off of the list of important things that Congress had to do?

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