Forest Watch

We ensure that forests in our region are managed to protect wildlife habitat, clean air and water, and the enjoyment of future generations.                        Photo © John Richter

Our Forest Watch Campaign monitors forestry practices and forest management across Colorado. We keep a close watch on National Forest lands, which cover about 14 million acres in Colorado, nearly a quarter of the state. We focus on maintaining resilient forests and protecting rare wildlife species such as lynx, roadless areas, old growth forests, rare plants, riparian areas, and intact watersheds.

We monitor and educate the public about proposed projects on all seven of our state’s National Forests, and work to modify the ones that could degrade ecological values. This includes so-called “forest health” projects, which are often thinly disguised commercial logging projects that propose to cut more than is needed to protect homes and infrastructure. Rocky Mountain Wild continues a multi-year effort to steer Forest Service projects towards targeted, science-based actions that will help protect communities and forests without sacrificing water quality and wildlife. By building relationships with diverse stakeholders, bringing ecological science into the dialogue, and capitalizing on the situation posed by dwindling federal budgets, we have made substantial progress in the last year.

 

Wolf Creek Campaign:  take action by September 28, 2012!

Wolf Creek Pass needs your help today!  The Forest Service has issued its Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed land exchange that would pave the way for the so-called Village at Wolf Creek. The federal agency is accepting public comments on this proposal until September 28, 2012.  This could be the last chance for the public to make its opinions known on this ill-conceived development proposal.  Visit the Friends of Wolf Creek website to learn how to submit your comments and other ways to support the campaign and stop the Pillage at Wolf Creek.

Background

Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado forms the pristine headwaters of the Rio Grande and San Juan Rivers. Bridging the South San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness Areas, the pass is beloved for stunning vistas and ample opportunities for backcountry recreation along the Continental Divide. It is also one of the most biologically-important areas in the Southern Rockies, providing habitat and migration pathways for elk, dear, black bear and the threatened Canada lynx.

The proposed “Village at Wolf Creek” development site.

The untouched beauty of Wolf Creek Pass has made it a tempting target for real estate developers. Rocky Mountain Wild’s Friends of Wolf Creek campaign has succeeded in keeping the pass wild by mobilizing local citizens, business owners, hunters and anglers, backcountry recreationists, and wildlife experts to protect this ecological treasure.

Most recently, Friends of Wolf Creek thwarted an ill-conceived attempt by Texas billionaire Red McCombs to build the “Village at Wolf Creek,” a city of 10,000 people at the top of the Pass. Unfortunately, McCombs remains committed to this project and has proposed a land exchange with the Forest Service, swapping undevelopable wetlands with National Forest land adjacent to Colorado State Highway 160.

This land swap would allow McCombs to construct a small city in an otherwise undeveloped area entirely surrounded by the Rio Grande National Forest. This development would cause irreversible ecosystem damage, impact water supplies and degrade water quality for downstream communities. It will also bisect one of the most critical wildlife corridors in the entire Southern Rocky Mountains while draining critical business away from the rural communities of Del Norte, South Fork, and Pagosa Springs.

Wolf Creek Pass is a treasure trove for backcountry skiiers.

We are confident we can defeat this project once again but we need your help. Please join our coalition of local residents, business owners, hunters, anglers, recreationists, and wildlife experts in demanding a fair and transparent review process to assess the true public costs of this project. Sign up to receive action alerts about Wolf Creek and donate to our campaign to keep Wolf Creek wild.

 

 

Breckenridge Peak 6 Defense

The Peak 6 expansion proposal being pushed by Breckenridge Ski Area (BSA) and its parent company Vail Resorts involves the construction of a 6-person chair lift on Peak 6, a mid-peak restaurant, and a top-of-mountain warming hut and ski patrol hut.

Site of the proposed Peak 6 expansion. Photo © Jesse Peterson

Rocky Mountain Wild is concerned about the expansion of BSA into wildlife habitat, near-pristine watersheds, and the viewshed that makes Summit County such a spectacular place to live and visit.

Learn more about the proposed expansion here.

 

 

Roadless Rule Defense

Over the past decade, Rocky Mountain Wild took the lead in Colorado on responding to major proposed Federal regulations and policy changes that could effect protection of important resources.  A special Roadless Rule for Colorado, overriding the national 2001 Roadless Rule within the state, was finalized in 2012.   Learn more about the Colorado Roadless Rule.

Sunset Roadless Area. Photo © Marty Larson

A Brief History on Roadless Area Protection

In early 2001, after a great deal of public input, the Clinton Administration published the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protected about 58 million acres of national forest Roadless lands nationwide. It generally prohibited logging and road construction, with a few narrowly tailored exceptions for prior existing rights, and public health and safety.

The W. Bush Administration, which took office about nine days later, never allowed this rule to take effect. Instead, it published a rule allowing states the choice of developing their own rule for protecting Roadless areas. The Bush rule was later invalidated by a court ruling, but two states, Idaho and Colorado, decided to develop Roadless Rules under other authorities.

The first draft Colorado Rule was published for public comment in 2008. Large numbers of people commented, with a sizable majority asking for better protection for our state’s Roadless lands. Subsequent draft rules and the almost-final rule made some improvements, but still included broad exceptions to the prohibitions on road construction and logging. As a result, the Colorado Rule adopted in 2012 gives our state’s national forest Roadless lands considerably less protection than those in other states.