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Outdoor Alliance Takes Strong Stand on Colorado and Idaho Roadless Area Protection

Ciitizens from across the nation have flooded the U.S. Forest Service with public comments in support of protecting at-risk backcountry roadless areas -- the last pristine but unprotected lands in the Forest System. With new plans for roadless area management in Colorado and Idaho up for review, a national coalition of climbers, hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, and backcountry skiers, is speaking out for systematic protection of roadless areas as a vital component of federal public lands policy.

Noting that more than half of our National Forest lands are already open to industrial activity, representatives from the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of six national human-powered recreation groups, say that state and federal governments should resist the urge to revisit whether these pristine roadless areas should be opened to industrial special interests. The ancient forests, peaks and wild rivers in roadless areas contain some of the best outdoor recreation in the nation, from climbing in Idaho's Selkirk Mountains, hiking its Centennial Trail, or skiing its Payette River Valley, to mountain bike rides like Colorado's Rabbit Ears Pass outside Steamboat Springs and paddling the Animas and its tributaries around Durango.

"These wild areas provide unmatched hiking, climbing, biking, skiing, paddling and other recreational opportunities for millions of Americans," notes Thomas O'Keefe, Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director for American Whitewater and leader of Outdoor Alliance's roadless protection campaign. "Attempts to open pristine backcountry to industrial development underscore the need for reliable, nationally consistent protections for all of America's last roadless areas. These national forests are an important part of the nation's heritage and way of life."

Outdoor recreation aside, roadless areas provide clean drinking water for millions of people and contain intact ecosystems where everything from aquatic insects to grizzly bears thrive in habitats undisturbed by centuries of western expansion and development.

"The Forest Service heeded overwhelming public opinion seven years ago and rightly decided to protect pristine lands, intact ecosystems and world-class human-powered outdoor recreation," explains, Adam Cramer, Outdoor Alliance's Policy Architect. "Outdoor Alliance is confident that the American people, particularly those who know these places first-hand, will deliver the same answer about how to treat our roadless areas in Colorado and Idaho -- leave them the way they are -- perfect."

Member organizations of the Outdoor Alliance include Access Fund, American Canoe Association, American Hiking Society, American Whitewater, International Mountain Bicycling Association and Winter Wildlands Alliance.