May 7, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Summit County Citizens Voice/Bob Berwyn "Opinion: Roadless spin machine in high gear"

Bob Berwyn:
"SUMMIT COUNTY — The spin machine for Colorado’s new national forest roadless rule cranked into high gear last week, as state and federal leaders sought to convince the public that the watered-down protections for some of the state’s most valuable lands are equal to, or better than the original national rule.
In a way, the establishment has it easy, because it’s been tough to follow all the twists and turns in the roadless saga — but it’s important to understand some of the background and nuance to make a valid comparison.

You certainly can’t rely on the Forest Service to for the real story in this situation. The agency’s follow-up press release to the roadless announcement touted “widespread support” for rule from conservation groups and quoted snippets of press releases selectively, using sections that praised parts of the rule while leaving out language that finds fault with the Colorado version and calls for additional protections.

It would have been questionable for the national agency to reject the Colorado petition; far better had the state backed away from its rule gracefully, perhaps keeping it in reserve, when you this far down a planning road, it’s hard to put it in reverse.

To give the Forest Service credit, it has provided a detailed and very accessible public online record of the rule-making and its history. All the information is there if you care to look.

Colorado’s newspaper of record, the Denver Post, gave up on trying to delve into some of those nuances in its Sunday editorial on the roadless rule, basically just saying saying, “It’s complicated, but trust us, this is a good thing,” without really ever explaining why. To its credit, the Post did include a link to previous coverage that helps explain the convoluted history.

But the Post also fell hook, line and sinker for one of the key talking points for the new rule — that it gives some of Colorado’s roadless areas more protection than the national rule. This myth of “greater protection” is clearly aimed at deflection attention from the fact that the majority of the national forest roadless areas in the state will get less protection than they would under the national rule....."
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