[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 128 (Tuesday, July 3, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 39575-39612]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15958]



[[Page 39575]]

Vol. 77

Tuesday,

No. 128

July 3, 2012

Part II





 Department of Agriculture





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 Forest Service





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36 CFR Part 294





Special Areas; Roadless Area Conservation; Applicability to the 
National Forests in Colorado; Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77 , No. 128 / Tuesday, July 3, 2012 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 39576]]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

36 CFR Part 294

RIN 0596-AC74


Special Areas; Roadless Area Conservation; Applicability to the 
National Forests in Colorado

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule and record of decision.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA or Department), is 
adopting a State-specific final rule to provide management direction 
for conserving and managing approximately 4.2 million acres of Colorado 
Roadless Areas (CRAs) on National Forest System (NFS) lands. The final 
Colorado Roadless Rule is a rule that addresses current issues and 
concerns specific to Colorado. The State of Colorado and Forest 
Service, working in partnership, have found a balance between 
conserving roadless area characteristics for future generations and 
allowing management activities within CRAs that are important to the 
citizens and economy of the State of Colorado.

DATES: This rule is effective July 3, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colorado Roadless Rule Team Leader Ken 
Tu at (303) 275-5156. Individuals using telecommunication devices for 
the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 
1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday 
through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This preamble states the basis and purpose 
of the rule, which includes responses to comments received on the 
proposed rule, and serves as the record of decision for this 
rulemaking. The preamble is organized into the following sections:

 Executive Summary
 Background
 Purpose and Need
 Decision
 Decision Rationale
 Public Involvement
 Tribal Involvement
 Alternatives Considered
 Environmentally Preferable Alternative
 Roadless Area Inventories
 Comments on the Proposed Rule and Changes Made in Response
 Regulatory Certifications

Executive Summary

    The United States Forest Service manages approximately 14,520,000 
acres of public lands in Colorado, which are distributed among eight 
national forests and two national grasslands. These national forests 
and grasslands are characterized by a diverse array of landscapes, 
ecosystems, natural resources, and land use activities.
    In January 2001, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule (2001 Roadless 
Rule) was adopted into regulation. The 2001 Roadless Rule has been the 
subject of litigation for more than a decade, and is now currently in 
effect. Uncertainty about the future of the 2001 Roadless Rule, along 
with state-specific concerns, was a key factor that influenced Colorado 
to initiate a petition to manage roadless areas in Colorado in 2005.
    The Department, the Forest Service, and the State of Colorado agree 
that a need exists to provide management direction for roadless areas 
in Colorado. In its petition to the Secretary of Agriculture, the State 
of Colorado indicated a need to develop regulations for the management 
of Colorado's roadless areas for the following reasons:

     Roadless areas are important because they are, among other 
things, sources of drinking water, important fish and wildlife habitat, 
semi-primitive or primitive recreation areas, including motorized and 
non-motorized recreation opportunities, and naturally appearing 
landscapes. A need exists to provide for the conservation and 
management of roadless area characteristics.
     The Department, the Forest Service, and the State of 
Colorado recognize that timber cutting, sale, or removal and road 
construction/reconstruction have the greatest likelihood of altering 
and fragmenting landscapes, resulting in immediate, long-term loss of 
roadless area characteristics. Therefore, there is a need to generally 
prohibit these activities in roadless areas. Some have argued that 
linear construction zones (LCZs) also need to be restricted.
     A need exists to accommodate state-specific situations and 
concerns in Colorado's roadless areas. These include the following:
    [cir] Reducing the risk of wildfire to communities and municipal 
water supply systems
    [cir] Facilitating exploration and development of coal resources in 
the North Fork coal mining area
    [cir] Permitting construction and maintenance of water conveyance 
structures
    [cir] Restricting LCZs, while permitting access to current and 
future electrical power lines
    [cir] Accommodating existing permitted or allocated ski areas
     There is a need to ensure that Colorado Roadless Areas 
(CRAs) are accurately mapped.

    The major provisions of the proposed rule would establish a system 
of CRAs with management direction to conserve roadless area 
characteristics. These areas would replace the roadless areas 
identified in the 2001 Roadless Rule for national forests in Colorado. 
The proposed rule conserves roadless area characteristics by 
prohibiting tree cutting, sale, or removal; road construction and 
reconstruction; and LCZs, with some limited exceptions. In addition, 
the rule establishes a system of upper tier acres within CRAs where 
additional restrictions apply, further limiting exceptions to the 
prohibitions.
    The proposed CRAs encompass approximately 4.19 million acres of NFS 
land in Colorado, distributed among 363 separate roadless areas. The 
Colorado Roadless Rule provides for future adjustments to be made to 
CRA boundaries, subject to a public review and comment period, and 
applicable NEPA or other requirements. In addition, the rule provides 
for administrative corrections (defined as adjustments to remedy 
clerical and mapping errors) to upper tier boundaries, subject to a 
public review and comment period.
    The rule adjusted roadless area boundaries from the 2001 inventory 
in the following ways:
     Correcting mapping errors that primarily resulted from 
improvements in inventory data and mapping technology.
     Excluding private land.
     Excluding land substantially altered by road construction 
and timber harvest activities.
     Excluding ski areas under permit or lands allocated in 
forest plans to ski area development.
     Excluding Congressionally designated lands, such as 
wilderness and other designations, that take legal precedence over 
roadless area regulations.
     Including unroaded areas outside IRAs that contain 
roadless area characteristics.
    Official CRA and upper tier locations are contained in a set of 
maps at the Forest Service national headquarters. The Forest Service 
national headquarters office would maintain the official map of CRAs, 
including records of adjustments to such maps, pursuant to the final 
proposed rule. These maps will be available to the public.
    The rule is expected to have a beneficial economic impact of about

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$65,000,000 per year, which is not considered to be economically 
significant under Executive Order (E.O.) 12866, Regulatory Planning and 
Review. Even though this rule is not considered economically 
significant, it is considered a significant regulatory action under 
E.O. 12866 and E.O. 13563.

Background

    On June 8, 2005, then-Governor Bill Owens signed Colorado Senate 
Bill 05-243 which directed the formation of a 13-person bipartisan task 
force to make recommendations to the Governor on the appropriate 
management of CRAs on National Forest Systems in Colorado. The Colorado 
law also identified the USDA 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule (2001 
Roadless Rule) as the starting point for the task force. On July 14, 
2005, the State of Colorado announced it would submit a petition 
requesting specific regulatory protections for the inventoried roadless 
areas within the State.
    Colorado's petition (2006 Petition) was submitted by then-Governor 
Owens on November 13, 2006, to the Secretary of Agriculture for 
consideration under the Administrative Procedure Act. On April 11, 
2007, then-Governor Ritter resubmitted the 2006 petition with additions 
(2007 Petition). After reviewing the recommendation from the Roadless 
Area Conservation National Advisory Committee (RACNAC), the Secretary 
of Agriculture accepted the 2007 Petition on August 24, 2007, and 
directed the Forest Service to initiate rulemaking based on the 
petition.
    A notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact 
statement (EIS) was published in the Federal Register on December 26, 
2007, (72 FR 72982). The State of Colorado was granted cooperating 
agency status in a memorandum of understanding dated January 8, 2008. 
On July 25, 2008, the Forest Service published the 2008 proposed rule 
to establish State-specific management direction to provide, within the 
context of multiple use, lasting protection for roadless areas on NFS 
land in Colorado (73 FR 43544). A notice of availability for the draft 
EIS was published on August 1, 2008, (73 FR 44991). The availability of 
the regulatory risk assessment for the 2008 proposed rule was published 
on September 18, 2008, (73 FR 54125).
    Based on the comments on the 2008 draft EIS and other public 
involvement efforts, the State requested the USDA postpone further 
rulemaking efforts until the State considered its 2007 Petition. On 
August 3, 2009, the State of Colorado sought additional public comment. 
The State considered the public comments and submitted a revised 
petition to the Secretary on April 6, 2010 (2010 Petition).
    On April 15, 2011, the Forest Service published a revised proposed 
rule (76 FR 21272) to provide State-specific direction for the 
protection of roadless areas on NFS lands in Colorado. A notice of 
availability for the revised draft EIS (RDEIS) was published on April 
29, 2011, (76 FR 24021).
    Since the promulgation of the 2001 Roadless Rule, it has been in 
litigation. The ongoing uncertainty regarding management of roadless 
areas was a key factor that influenced Governor Bill Owens to initiate 
a State-specific petition to manage Colorado roadless areas. On October 
21, 2011, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Wyoming 
District Court's decision to set aside the 2001 Roadless Rule and 
remanded the case to the District Court to vacate the permanent 
injunction. On February 24, 2012, the Tenth Circuit issued a mandate 
effectuating the October 21, 2011 opinion and requiring the injunction 
of the 2001 Roadless Rule to be vacated. As of the printing of this 
final rule, the 2001 Roadless Rule is in effect nationwide, except in 
Idaho, which has its own State-specific roadless rule.

Purpose and Need

    The Department, Forest Service, and the State of Colorado agree 
there is a need to establish management direction for the conservation 
of roadless area values and characteristics in Colorado. In addition, 
there is a need to ensure that CRAs are accurately mapped. In its 
petition to the Secretary of Agriculture, the State of Colorado 
indicated a need to develop State-specific regulations for the 
management of Colorado's roadless areas.
    Roadless areas are, among other things, sources of drinking water, 
important fish and wildlife habitat, semi-primitive or primitive 
recreation areas, including motorized and nonmotorized recreation 
opportunities, and natural-appearing landscapes. There is a need to 
provide for the conservation and management of roadless area 
characteristics.
    The Department believes tree cutting, sale or removal, and road 
construction/reconstruction have the greatest likelihood of altering 
and fragmenting landscapes, resulting in immediate, long-term loss of 
roadless area values and characteristics, and there is a need generally 
to prohibit these activities in roadless areas. Some have argued that 
linear construction zones (LCZs) also need to be restricted in roadless 
areas.
    The State has indicated flexibility is needed to accommodate State-
specific situations and concerns in Colorado's roadless areas. These 
include: (1) Reducing the risk of wildfire to at-risk communities and 
municipal water supply systems; (2) facilitating exploration and 
development of coal resources in the North Fork coal mining area on the 
Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests; (3) permitting 
the construction and maintenance of water conveyance structures; (4) 
restricting linear construction zones, while permitting access to 
current and future electrical power lines and telecommunication lines; 
and (5) accommodating existing permitted or allocated ski areas.

Decision

    The Department hereby promulgates a regulation establishing CRAs 
and providing for management of CRAs as described in Alternative 2 of 
the ``Rulemaking for Colorado Roadless Areas Final Environmental Impact 
Statement,'' USDA Forest Service, 2012, and the supporting record. This 
decision is not subject to Forest Service administrative appeal 
regulations.

Decision Rationale

    Governor Ritter stated in his April 11, 2007 letter to 
Undersecretary Mark Rey that, ``Colorado's roadless areas are a 
treasure to be enjoyed by the citizens of Colorado and the visitors who 
come here to recreate and enjoy the natural beauty of our National 
Forests. Roadless areas provide critical wildlife habitat, clean 
drinking water, recreation and unmatched scenery. Roadless areas belong 
to all Americans and are a resource to protect and pass on to future 
generations.'' The final rule will provide long-term management of CRAs 
to ensure roadless area values are passed on to future generations, 
while providing for Colorado-specific situations and concerns that are 
important to the citizens and economy of Colorado.
    The final rule provides a high level of conservation of roadless 
area characteristics on approximately 4.2 million acres. The final rule 
achieves this by establishing prohibitions for tree cutting, road 
construction and reconstruction, and use of linear construction zones 
with limited exceptions and establishing upper tier acres. The final 
rule will be applied to 409,500 acres that were not covered in the 2001 
Roadless Rule. It does not establish roadless management direction for 
459,100 acres of lands that were associated with the 2001 Roadless Rule 
that have been determined to be

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substantially altered and 8,300 acres for ski area management. The 
final rule provides a higher level of conservation for the designated 
CRA lands than management direction under either the forest plans or 
the 2001 Roadless Rule.
    The final rule designates 1,219,200 acres of CRAs as upper tier, 
which are acres where exceptions to road construction and tree cutting 
are more restrictive and limiting than the 2001 Roadless Rule. Upper 
tier designations were designed to offset the limited exceptions for 
Colorado-specific concerns so that the final rule is more protective 
than the 2001 Roadless Rule.
    Generally, the exceptions for Colorado-specific concerns allow for 
road construction and reconstruction beyond that which are allowed 
under the 2001 Roadless Rule where roadless acres are within the first 
0.5 mile from an at-risk community as described in the definitions 
section of this final rule (about 250,000 acres) and within the 19,100-
acre North Fork coal mining area. Tree cutting allowances in non-upper 
tier acres in the final rule are similar to the 2001 Roadless Rule, 
except within a community protection zone (CPZ) as described in the 
definitions section of this final rule. Tree cutting allowances in 
upper tier areas are much more restrictive in the final rule as 
compared to the 2001 Roadless Rule.
    The use of LCZs is restricted under the final rule, unlike the 2001 
Roadless Rule. The LCZ provisions of the final rule are designed to 
encourage placement of linear facilities outside of roadless areas to 
conserve the large tracts of undisturbed lands that roadless areas 
provide. The final rule also encourages co-locating facilities if they 
must be constructed within a CRA. Co-locating facilities within CRAs 
would minimize overall impacts by concentrating infrastructure and 
associated human activities in previously disturbed areas.
    Although it is difficult to directly compare the level of 
protection afforded by the final rule and the 2001 Roadless Rule, the 
final rule clearly offers a higher level of conservation of roadless 
area characteristics within the upper tier acres. In addition, the 2001 
Roadless Rule allows management activities to occur on more acres of 
roadless areas than the final rule does due to the upper tier 
designation.

Colorado-Specific Concerns

    Ski Areas. Roadless areas provide the scenic backdrop to many of 
Colorado's 22 ski areas located on public lands managed by the Forest 
Service. These 22 ski areas received about 11.7 million skier visits 
during the 2010-2011 ski season.
    Colorado skiers spend about $2.6 billion annually, about one third 
of the annual tourist dollars spent in the State. The roadless area 
inventory for the 2001 Roadless Rule included portions of either the 
permit boundary and/or forest plan ski area management allocation for 
13 ski areas. The final rule inventory excludes approximately 8,300 
acres of permitted ski area boundaries or ski area management 
allocations from CRAs, which include roadless acres with degraded 
roadless area characteristics due to the proximity to a major 
recreational development and is less than 0.2% of the CRAs. This will 
ensure future ski area expansions within existing permit boundaries and 
forest plan allocations are not in conflict with desired conditions 
provided through the final rule and address one of the State-specific 
concerns identified by the State of Colorado. However, this final rule 
does not approve any future ski area expansions; any expansion proposal 
would need site-specific environmental analysis, appropriate public 
input, and independent approval.
    Energy Development/Infrastructure. All existing Federal coal leases 
within CRAs occur in the North Fork Valley near Paonia, Colorado on the 
Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. Coal from this 
area meets the Clean Air Act definition for compliant and super-
compliant coal, which means it has high energy value and low sulphur, 
ash and mercury content, making it desirable for electric-generation 
plants throughout the country. Coal from these existing leases is 
currently being extracted at three underground mines, which 
collectively produce about 10 to 15 million tons of coal per year and 
accounts for about 40% of all the coal production in the State of 
Colorado. These mines provide about 2,100 jobs (direct, indirect and 
induced) and $151.1 million annually of direct labor income within 
Colorado.
    The final rule accommodates the continued operation of these three 
mines by defining an area called the North Fork coal mining area. This 
area is about 19,100 acres which is less than 0.5% of the CRAs. The 
North Fork coal mining exception allows for the construction of 
temporary roads for exploration and surface activities related to coal 
mining for existing and future coal leases. The final rule does not 
approve any future coal leases, nor does it make a decision about the 
leasing availability of any coal within the State. Those decisions 
would need to undergo separate environmental analyses, public input, 
and decision-making.
    Many comments were received on the 2008 DEIS and the 2011 RDEIS 
regarding whether the Currant Creek CRA should be included or excluded 
from the North Fork coal mining area. About 9,000 acres of the Currant 
Creek CRA was removed from the North Fork coal mining area in the RDEIS 
due to important wildlife habitats and juxtaposition of these habitats 
to nearby habitats. The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife 
reviewed comments regarding the inclusion of Currant Creek to the North 
Fork coal mining area, including the independent analysis of wildlife 
resources submitted by a commenter, and remains convinced of the 
importance of the wildlife habitat values in Currant Creek.
    The Department agrees and will not include Currant Creek in the 
North Fork coal mining area to ensure conservation of these important 
wildlife habitats. The Department notes that there are no existing coal 
leases in Currant Creek. The Department reviewed likely scenarios of 
potential mining within the Currant Creek CRA and determined that the 
economic effects of including Currant Creek in the North Fork coal 
mining area would not be realized for more than three decades based on 
current coal production levels, current mining technologies, the 
assumption that an adjacent area on non-NFS lands known as Oak Mesa 
would be mined, and the fact that coal from Currant Creek would not be 
mined until Oak Mesa was mined out.
    Oil and gas resources were another issue that generated substantial 
public input. Colorado has 8% of all dry natural gas reserves in the 
U.S., the third largest domestic reserves of onshore dry natural gas 
behind Texas and Wyoming. In 2009, Colorado wells produced 1.45 
trillion cubic feet of natural gas for market, or 7% of U.S. 
production. In addition, about 28.3 million barrels of oil were 
produced in Colorado, or 1% of U.S. production. In 2010, of the $287 
million in total royalties collected on Federal oil and gas production 
in Colorado, $117 million was paid to the State of Colorado and $64 
million was collected in severance taxes from federal oil and gas 
production.
    Within CRAs, there are about 266,900 acres classified as ``moderate 
to high'' oil and gas potential and about 631,600 classified as 
``high'' potential. Projected natural gas and oil production from CRAs 
with high development potential, although locally significant, does not 
change significantly under the final rule. A total of 355 firms 
affiliated with

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oil and gas development and production are located within the affected 
region, of which 337 are estimated to be small businesses. However, 
there is no difference in estimated average annual natural gas or oil 
production between the final rule and the 2001 Rule (baseline 
conditions). The only difference in natural gas production across 
alternatives is under forest plans (Alternative 3) where average annual 
production is estimated to increase by 4 billion cubic feet per year 
compared to the final rule, which is below the Executive Order 13211 
criterion for significant effects of 25 bcf/year. The only difference 
in oil production across the alternatives is under forest plans 
(Alternative 3) where oil production is estimated to increase by about 
seven barrels per day, compared to the final rule, which is an 
inconsequential difference compared to the E.O. 13211 criterion of 
10,000 barrels per day.
    The final rule provides for the conservation of roadless area 
characteristics by prohibiting road construction for future oil and gas 
leases and requiring a no surface occupancy (NSO) stipulation on all 
future oil and gas leases within upper tier acres. The final rule 
balances roadless protection with energy development by allowing 
continued temporary access across CRAs to explore, develop, and 
transport products from existing oil and gas leases that do not 
otherwise prohibit road construction or reconstruction. The 2001 
Roadless Rule prohibited road construction to access mineral leases 
issued after the promulgation of the rule (January 12, 2001). Since 
2001, the 2001 Roadless Rule has been subject to legal challenges, and 
leases have been issued in areas now identified as Colorado Roadless 
Areas. The Colorado Roadless Rule does not affect the terms or validity 
of leases existing prior to the promulgation date of the final rule. 
This rule preserves any surface development rights and limitations on 
surface development rights existing at the time of adoption of this 
rule on all oil and gas leases. Although the road prohibitions of the 
final rule could constrain development of future oil and gas leases 
within some CRAs, the economic impact of this prohibition would be 
negligible in the context of total energy production within the State 
of Colorado. The projected difference in potential natural gas 
production from CRAs under the final rule is an increase in total 
recovery of about 19.2 billion cubic feet over 30 years when compared 
to the existing condition. Averaged over the 30 year period, this 
represents about 0.1% of the current state-wide annual production of 
natural gas in Colorado. For oil production, the final rule would 
result in a decrease of about 3,500 barrels over 30 years when compared 
to the existing condition. This averaged over 30 years, is minimal 
compared to the current annual oil production in Colorado.
    The final rule would not restrict road construction to extract 
locatable minerals, which include metals such as gold, silver, lead, 
zinc, molybdenum, rare earth minerals, and uranium; non-metallic 
minerals such as fluorspar, feldspar, and gem stones; and uncommon 
varieties of sand, stone, gravel, pumice, pumicite, and cinders such as 
high calcium limestone used for cement. Like the 2001 Roadless Rule, 
the final rule contains a specific exception for roads provided for by 
statute which would allow access to develop these mineral resources, 
which are subject to location under the General Mining Law of 1872, as 
amended. This law provides United States citizens a possessory right to 
these minerals, use of the surface for purposes reasonably incident to 
mining, and a right of reasonable access to these minerals across 
Federal land. This statutory right also made it unnecessary to include 
a specific exception for mining roads in the final rule as requested by 
several commenters. Therefore, operations such as the Henderson Mine in 
Clear Creek County would not be affected by the final rule prohibitions 
should operations need to expand into or develop additional mineral 
resources in the adjacent CRA.
    In January, 2009 energy transmission and distribution corridors 
were designated in 11 Western States, including Colorado, in an 
interagency effort known as the West-Wide Energy Corridor project. 
These corridors will facilitate interstate energy transmission and 
distribution as well as improving reliability, relieving congestion, 
enhancing the capability of the national grid to deliver electricity, 
and concentrating these uses. All the designated West-Wide Energy 
Corridors for oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines and electric 
transmission and distribution facilities are located outside of CRAs. 
Therefore, interstate energy transmission is not expected to be 
affected by the final rule.
    Water Supply/Infrastructure. Water in Colorado is used for a 
variety of downstream purposes including public water supply, 
agriculture, and industrial uses (including mining/mineral 
development). Growing populations in Colorado are expected to increase 
the demand for reliable quantities of high-quality water. Roadless 
areas contribute to high quality water through high functioning 
watersheds, which provide for snow-pack retention and vegetative cover, 
resulting in reduced downstream sedimentation, lower water temperature, 
and decreased contaminants. The mountainous areas, where NFS lands are 
located, receive the highest amounts of precipitation in the State, 
primarily as snow. More than two-thirds of the water yield in Colorado 
originates on NFS lands. The streams and lakes within roadless areas 
generally have good to excellent water quality. Nearly all of the CRAs 
are located within watersheds that contribute to public supplies of 
surface or ground water.
    Water projects are necessary to store and transport water from its 
origin in the mountains to where it is needed in downstream cities, 
towns, and farms. Storing water in mountain reservoirs provides more 
reliable year-round constant flows enabling distribution of water to 
places when needed. Water projects also allow for storage of excess 
water in one year to be saved and used in later years when water may 
not be as plentiful.
    There are numerous reservoirs, diversions, ditches, tunnels and 
other water conveyance facilities located in CRAs. Access for operation 
and maintenance of these facilities is important to (1) ensure reliable 
delivery of needed water supplies to downstream users, and (2) prevent 
or mitigate failures in the water systems that could cause greater 
environmental impacts, such as an open ditch clogging with debris that 
overtops and carves a series of gullies into the hillside. The final 
rule allows access needed for the construction, reconstruction, or 
maintenance of authorized water conveyance structures operated pursuant 
to state decreed water rights.
    With the current increased growth in the rural west, in and around 
the National Forests, the Forest Service anticipates proposals for new 
reservoirs and associated water conveyance structures on NFS lands. 
Existing permit holders are already asking for authorization to expand 
and enlarge existing reservoirs and water conveyance structures. The 
Department believes these circumstances require flexibility because in 
some cases, it may be preferable to expand existing facilities where 
impacts have already occurred than to construct new facilities in a 
relatively undisturbed area. In most cases, road access would be needed 
to transport the equipment and materials to complete new water projects 
or expansions efficiently, which is provided for in the final rule 
within non-upper tier areas through the road

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construction exception and within upper tier areas through the LCZ 
exception for water rights with a pre-existing water court decree.
    Community Protection. The ongoing mountain pine beetle epidemic has 
caused wide-spread tree mortality on more than three million acres 
across the State of Colorado. About 750,000 acres of this tree 
mortality has occurred in CRAs. This high level of tree mortality has 
increased the concern for high-intensity wildfires due to the increased 
amount of combustible material (fuels). High-intensity wildfires are 
more difficult to control, have the potential for greater environmental 
impacts, and increase risks to firefighter and public health and 
safety.
    Colorado has a high number of residences in the vicinity of forests 
that are at risk of wildfire. The final rule defines the areas up to 
1.5 miles of an at-risk community as CPZs if certain ground conditions 
exist. In some areas, where CRAs are adjacent to at-risk communities, 
some portion of the CRA's acres fall within the CPZ. Currently, about 
250,000 acres of proposed CRAs (6% of total) are within 0.5 miles of an 
at-risk community, and over one million acres of the proposed CRAs (25% 
of total) are within 1.5 miles of an at-risk community. The ability to 
conduct fuel-reduction projects around at-risk communities is a concern 
and priority for the State of Colorado. Fuel treatments alter fuel 
profiles so that public and firefighter safety is improved and 
communities, watersheds, infrastructure, and other at-risk values are 
less vulnerable to impacts from wildfire. The final rule provides for 
this by allowing fuel treatments within the CPZs and allowing temporary 
road construction within 0.5 miles of an at-risk community.
    Linear Construction Zones. Generally roadless areas are roadless 
because they are rugged, steep, and remote; the topography and 
juxtaposition of human developments have historically made going around 
roadless areas more practical than going through them; and they have 
limited economic development opportunities. For these reasons, 
opportunities to construct and the desire to construct linear 
facilities through roadless areas are expected to be limited. The 
majority of LCZ use in roadless areas is expected to come from the 
desire to move resources from inside roadless areas out of roadless 
areas, such as water, oil and gas. Although limited LCZ use is 
expected, it is a State-specific concern because the 2001 Roadless Rule 
does not restrict them and the potential for adverse impacts to 
roadless characteristics.
    The final rule limits the potential impacts by prohibiting the use 
of LCZs across the 1,219,200 acres designated as upper tier except for 
reserved and outstanding rights; provided by statute or treaty; or 
water conveyance structures operated pursuant to a pre-existing water 
court decree.
    The final rule further limits the potential impacts of LCZs by 
encouraging co-locating linear facilities within CRAs. Co-locating 
linear facilities would increase the width of the right-of-way, as 
power lines, pipelines or other linear facilities would parallel but 
not completely fall within the existing footprint. However, overall 
impacts would be reduced by concentrating infrastructure and associated 
human activities. These potential impacts, which would occur at a 
higher level under the 2001 Roadless Rule, include displacement of 
wildlife species sensitive to noise and human disturbance; soil 
compaction and erosion; fragmentation of aquatic and terrestrial 
habitats; and most notably an increased risk of the spread of invasive 
species. Many non-native plants establish themselves preferentially 
along disturbed habitats, which can lead to loss of native plants, loss 
of quality forage, and lowered reproductive success of native plants 
and wildlife. Expanding the width of existing right-of-ways would 
further amplify the magnitude and duration of these effects on roadless 
area values including fish, wildlife, and rare plants.
    The increasingly high level of development that exists outside of 
roadless and wilderness areas accentuates the function of roadless 
areas as refugia for aquatic and terrestrial animal species. Refugia 
provide source populations that are not subject to high levels of 
angling or hunting pressure or frequent human disturbances, and can 
repopulate adjacent landscapes. This is why the final rule emphasizes 
placement of LCZs outside of roadless areas when at all possible. If 
additional LCZs need to be used in roadless areas, then the emphasis 
will be on co-locating or widening of existing right-of-ways.
    Other Considerations. Roadless areas provide for unaltered and high 
quality fish and wildlife habitat. Based on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
National Survey (2006 National Survey of Fishing Hunting, and Wildlife-
Associated Recreation), it is estimated that hunters and anglers spent 
about 8,750,000 days hunting and fishing in Colorado expending 
approximately $1,584,779 million annually; and 1,819,000 people spend 
about 9,404,000 days watching wildlife expending approximately $1.4 
billion annually. Based on the 2006 National Survey, Colorado residents 
and nonresidents spent about $3.0 billion in 2006 on wildlife 
recreation within the State. The final rule provides for conservation 
of native cutthroat trout through a requirement to ensure the native 
cutthroat trout habitat is not diminished over the long-term and the 
implementation of water conservation practices. In addition to the 
final rule protections, native cutthroat trout in Colorado are 
protected through the Endangered Species Act and/or the National Forest 
Management Act implementing regulations. Greenback cutthroat trout are 
listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and Colorado and 
Rio Grande cutthroat trout are listed as Sensitive on the Regional 
Forester's Sensitive Species list. These listings provide a high level 
of protection for native cutthroat trout in Colorado and provide for 
special management emphasis. The final rule ensures conservation of 
roadless area characteristics over the majority of the 4.2 million 
acres of CRAs, which will provide for wildlife dependent on large 
tracts of undisturbed land.
    Based on a 2009 report by the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle 
Coalition, it is estimated that 210,000 Colorado residents and 
nonresidents participated in the 2006-2007 season's off-highway vehicle 
recreation in Colorado, expending approximately $784 million. The final 
rule does not prohibit use of existing authorized motorized trails nor 
does it prohibit the future development of motorized trails in CRAs 
(see 36 CFR 294.46(f)). The final rule allows continued motorized trail 
use of CRAs if determined appropriate through local travel management 
planning.
    Alternatives Considered. Alternative 1, the 2001 Roadless Rule and 
No Action Alternative, was not selected as the final rule because it 
does not provide for Colorado specific concerns. The 2001 Roadless Rule 
limits economic opportunities important to the people of Colorado, such 
as coal development and ski area expansion. The 2001 Roadless Rule also 
poses a greater risk to communities adjacent to CRAs than the final 
rule by limiting fuel treatments designed to reduce wildfire 
intensities; and potentially impacting the efficient management of 
water needed to ensure an adequate future supply to the State in light 
of growing demands and increasing fluctuations in precipitation 
patterns.
    Alternative 3, provisions of the Forest Plans, was not selected as 
the final rule because it does not provide for roadless area 
conservation to the degree that

[[Page 39581]]

Alternative 2 does. Although Alternative 3 does provide greater 
flexibility to provide for Colorado specific concerns, such as 
community protection and economic development, Alternative 2 balances 
Colorado specific concerns with roadless conservation, which is also 
important to the State. As stated in the purpose and need, roadless 
areas provide for sources of drinking water, important fish and 
wildlife habitat, semi-primitive and primitive recreation 
opportunities, and natural appearing landscapes as well as other 
attributes. It is important to balance the conservation of these 
roadless characteristics, while providing for the State-specific 
concerns, which Alternative 2 does.
    Alternative 4 was not selected as the final rule because the amount 
of upper tier acres and location of those acres limit the ability of 
the Forest Service to accomplish its management objectives. 
Approximately 121,600 acres of Alternative 4 upper tier acres are 
within 0.5 mile of an at-risk community. This upper tier designation 
would prohibit fuels treatment within the CPZ, which would increase 
risk to public health and safety. In addition, some of the upper tier 
acres designated in Alternative 4 are located in areas with existing 
oil and gas leases, and should those existing leases be developed the 
designation of these acres as upper tier would be inconsistent with the 
purpose and desired condition of upper tier designations.

Public Involvement

    The Forest Service and the State of Colorado have solicited public 
involvement and comments on the development of a Colorado Roadless 
Rule. Between the Forest Service and State efforts, there have been 
five formal public involvement processes, which have resulted in 
approximately 312,000 public comments. Public involvement efforts of 
the Forest Service and the State of Colorado included:
     Senate Bill 05-243, signed into Colorado law on June 8, 
2005, created and identified a 13-member bipartisan task force. The 
task force held nine public meetings throughout the State, held six 
deliberative meetings that were open to the public, and reviewed and 
considered over 40,000 public comments.
     On December 27, 2007, the Forest Service published a 
notice of intent in the Federal Register to prepare an EIS on roadless 
area conservation on NFS lands in Colorado (72 FR 72982). The Forest 
Service also solicited comments from interested parties on the notice 
of intent from December 27, 2007 through February 25, 2008. 
Approximately 88,000 comments were received.
     On July 25, 2008, the Forest Service published a proposed 
rule to establish State-specific management direction for conserving 
roadless areas in Colorado (73 FR 43544). A notice of availability for 
the DEIS was published in the Federal Register (73 FR 44991). The 
availability of the regulatory risk assessment for the proposed rule 
was published on September 18, 2008 (73 FR 54125). Nine public meetings 
were held around the State of Colorado and in Washington, DC during the 
comment period. All comment periods closed on October 23, 2008. In 
total, approximately 106,000 comments were received.
     The State of Colorado held a comment period from August 3 
to October 3, 2009 on a State-modified version of the Colorado Roadless 
Rule. Approximately 22,000 comments were received.
     On April 15, 2011, the Forest Service published a revised 
proposed rule (76 FR 21272). A notice of availability for the RDEIS was 
published in the Federal Register (76 FR 24021) on April 29, 2011. Nine 
public meetings were held around the State of Colorado and in 
Washington, DC during the comment period. Comment periods closed on 
July 14, 2011. Approximately 56,000 comments were received.
    In addition to the five formal comment periods, the Forest Service 
and Colorado participated in Roadless Area Conservation National 
Advisory Committee (RACNAC) meetings that were open to the public in 
Washington, DC in June of 2007 and January, July and November of 2008. 
Also, a RACNAC meeting was held in Salt Lake City, Utah in October of 
2008. Public comments were accepted at these meetings, which helped the 
RACNAC develop its December 5, 2008 recommendations to the Secretary of 
Agriculture.
    On May 4, 2012, the notice of availability for the final EIS (FEIS) 
was published in the Federal Register (77 FR 26548). Although the 
Forest Service did not formally solicit comments, 181 comments were 
received.

Tribal Involvement

    The United States has a unique relationship with Indian Tribes as 
provided in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, and 
Federal statutes. The relationship extends to the Federal government's 
management of public lands, and the Forest Service strives to assure 
that its consultation with Native American Tribes is meaningful and in 
good faith.
    A vital part of the State of Colorado's public process in 
developing its petition was receiving the recommendations and comments 
from Native American Tribes. The Governor's office was keenly aware of 
the spiritual and cultural significance some of these areas hold for 
the Tribes.
    There are two resident Tribes in Colorado, both retaining some of 
their traditional land base as reservations via a series of treaties, 
agreements, and laws. The Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Indian 
Tribes (consisting originally of the Weeminuche, Capote, Tabeguache, 
and Mouaches Bands) under the Brunot Agreement of 1874 have reserved 
hunting rights on certain lands in Colorado and retain inherent 
aboriginal rights throughout their traditional territory. Many other 
Tribes located outside Colorado maintain tribal interests, including 
aboriginal and ceded territories, and claim inherent aboriginal rights 
within the State.
    The Forest Service has consulted with Colorado-affiliated Tribes 
regarding this rulemaking action and analysis process. Information on 
the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule was provided to the Ute Mountain 
Ute and Southern Ute Indian Tribes prior to the release of the NOI. The 
San Juan National Forest staff held meetings with both Tribes to 
discuss the proposed rule as well as other Forest issues. At these 
meetings, the Tribes expressed concerns about hunting access and 
unauthorized roads. Nothing in the final rule changes hunting access or 
existing rights. The management of unauthorized roads is addressed 
through travel management processes.
    Additionally, an introductory letter and the NOI along with 
background information on the proposed Colorado Roadless Rule and an 
offer for additional information or meetings was sent to 25 Tribes 
based on their current proximity to Colorado, their current use of 
lands in Colorado, and their historic use of lands within Colorado.
    The 2008 Proposed Rule and DEIS were sent to each of these Tribes 
and each was contacted by phone to determine their level of interest in 
meeting or obtaining information. The Tribes did not request additional 
government-to-government involvement, and no formal comments from any 
of the Tribes were received. A letter was sent to each Tribe outlining 
the key points of this revised proposed rule, and the Forest Service 
met with those Tribes requesting further consultation.
    In October 2010, the Forest Service met with Tribal members of the 
Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribes to obtain information. In 
April 2011, the Proposed Rule was sent to 25 Tribes

[[Page 39582]]

based on their current proximity to Colorado and their current and 
historic use of lands within Colorado to determine their interest in 
meeting or obtaining information. Follow-up phone calls were made to 
each of the 25 Tribes. Additional information was sent to Tribes as 
requested. The Tribes did not request additional government-to-
government involvement, and no formal comments from any of the Tribes 
were received.
    Pursuant to Executive Order 13175 of November 6, 2000, 
``Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,'' the 
Department has assessed the impact of this rule on Indian Tribal 
Governments and has determined that the proposed rule does not 
significantly or uniquely affect Indian Tribes. The final rule 
establishes direction governing the management and protection of CRAs. 
However, the final rule respects prior existing rights, and it 
addresses discretionary Forest Service management decisions involving 
road construction, tree cutting, and some mineral activities. The 
Department has also determined that the final rule does not impose 
substantial direct compliance costs on Indian Tribal Governments. The 
final rule does not mandate tribal participation in roadless management 
or the planning of activities in CRAs. Rather, the Forest Service 
officials are obligated by other agency policies to consult early with 
Tribal governments and to work cooperatively with them where planning 
issues affect Tribal interests.

Alternatives Considered

    The Forest Service analyzed four alternatives for managing roadless 
areas in the FEIS. Alternative 1 the No Action Alternative and the 2001 
Roadless Rule, continues the use of the 2001 Roadless Rule 
prohibitions, exceptions and mapping. Alternative 2, selected as the 
final rule, examines a two tier approach for prohibitions and 
exceptions designed to protect CRAs. Alternative 3, provisions of 
Forest Plans, examines reliance on forest plan direction without the 
2001 Roadless Rule, to manage roadless areas. Alternative 3 would 
consist of a Colorado Rule that exempts the State from the 2001 
Roadless Rule. Alternative 4 uses the same parameters for management 
described in Alternative 2 but includes approximately 2.6 million acres 
in the upper tier. The only difference between Alternative 2 and 4 is 
the location and amount of upper tier acres. The FEIS may be found at 
http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/coroadlessrule.

Environmentally Preferable Alternative

    The environmentally preferable alternative is the alternative that 
would best promote the national environmental policy as expressed in 
Section 101 of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 
4331. Generally this means the alternative that causes the least damage 
to the biological and physical environment. It means the alternative 
that best protects, preserves, and enhances historic, cultural, and 
natural resources. In addition, it means the alternative that attains 
the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without 
degradation, risk to health and safety, or other undesirable or 
unintended consequences.
    All the alternatives presented in the FEIS meet the national 
environmental policy, as described in Section 101 of NEPA, to varying 
degrees. All the alternatives provide for safe, healthful, productive 
and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings, now and into 
the future, by conserving and managing roadless area characteristics to 
a varying degree. However, of the four alternatives, Alternative 2 is 
the environmentally preferable alternative because it best promotes the 
national environmental policy. Alternative 2 is the environmentally 
preferable alternative because it attains the widest range of 
beneficial uses of the environment and achieves a balance between 
population and resource use while conserving roadless area 
characteristics. While Alternative 4 would cause the least amount of 
direct impact to the environment of all the alternatives, Alternative 4 
limits activities, such as fuel treatments, that could protect the 
environment from wildfire. Under Alternative 4, hazardous fuels 
activities around at-risk communities that would reduce the severity of 
a wildfire and reduce impacts to watersheds would be limited due to 
upper tier designations. The higher amount of tree cutting projected 
for Alternative 2 is a result of hazardous fuel treatments around at-
risk communities and is thus limited across the CRAs mainly to the 
250,000 acres within the 0.5 mile CPZ. Alternative 4 does not provide 
as good of a balance between population and resource use, part of the 
national environmental policy. Alternative 2 provides for community 
protection and activities that are important to the economic well-being 
of the citizens of Colorado. Although Alternative 2 has a higher amount 
of road construction projected, this is mainly a result of allowing 
temporary roads within the North Fork coal mining area and within the 
CPZ. Thus this impact is limited in scope to the 19,100 acres of the 
North Fork coal mining area and the 250,000 acres within the 0.5 mile 
CPZ. This limited impact is offset by the 1,219,200 acres designated as 
upper tier, which would have less activities (tree cutting and road 
construction/reconstruction) occurring within them than what would 
occur under the 2001 Roadless Rule (Alternative 1, the No Action 
Alternative) or the forest plans (Alternative 3). The ``Decision 
Rationale'' section describes how the rule provides for these 
activities as well as why they are important to Colorado. Alternatives 
1 and 4 do not provide for these benefits to the degree that 
Alternative 2 does.

Roadless Area Inventories

    The final rule includes an updated inventory of roadless areas. The 
2007 State Petition proposed starting with the inventories used in the 
2001 Roadless Rule and updating them as necessary. In some cases, these 
inventories were conducted in the late 1970's and used mapping 
technologies that are now outdated. In addition, roads had been 
constructed in some areas between the time of the original inventories 
and their use in the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Forest Service has 
reviewed and updated the old inventories for use in this rulemaking by 
making technical corrections, removing private property, and making 
other boundary adjustments, including additions and deletions due to 
land exchanges. All congressionally-designated areas that overlapped 
roadless areas have also been removed from the CRA inventory.
    During the public comment period on the 2008 Proposed Rule, 
comments were received on many of the boundaries of individual CRAs. 
Based on public comment received and work with the Colorado Division of 
Parks and Wildlife field staff, corrections were made to the 
inventories used for the 2008 Proposed Rule. Additional administrative 
corrections were made between the 2011 Proposed Rule and the final 
rule. Further information on the boundary changes and a description of 
the uniqueness of each CRA can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/coroadlessrule.
    Colorado Roadless Area boundaries have been adjusted where they 
overlap with ski areas that have special use authorizations (6,600 
acres) or land use management plan allocations for ski areas that allow 
for possible future expansion of the permitted area (1,700 acres). 
Table 1 displays a comparison of

[[Page 39583]]

2001 Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA) acres and final CRA acres.

         Table 1--Proposed Net Change in Roadless Acres Designations by Forest--Inventoried Roadless Area Acres to Colorado Roadless Area Acres
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                         Total roadless     Net change
                                                    2001 Rule total IRA   IRA acres in    IRA acres not  Roadless acres    acres to be     between 2001
                                                     acres with forest      Colorado        included      added to CRAs   managed under    IRA and CRA
                                                        plan vintage        database       within CRAs                    Colorado rule       acres
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arapaho-Roosevelt.................................       391,000 (1997)         352,500          10,800           5,400         347,100          (5,400)
GMUG..............................................     1,127,000 (1979)       1,058,300         281,500         124,200         901,100        (157,200)
Manti La Sal......................................        11,000 (1979)          11,000           3,800             500           7,700          (3,300)
Pike San Isabel...................................       688,000 (1979)         667,300          62,900         170,300         774,700         107,400
Rio Grande........................................       530,000 (1996)         529,000          14,200           3,800         518,600         (10,400)
Routt.............................................       442,000 (1998)         442,300          10,400           1,700         433,600          (8,800)
San Juan..........................................       604,000 (1979)         543,600          76,500          98,900         566,100          22,500
White River.......................................       640,000 (2002)         639,500           7,400           4,700         636,700          (2,800)
                                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total, State of Colorado......................            4,433,000       4,243,600         467,400         409,500       4,185,600         (58,000)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Column 2 acres rounded to nearest 1,000 acres; others rounded to nearest 100 acres. Acres do not add due to rounding.

Comments on the Proposed Rule and Changes Made in Response

    Approximately 56,000 comments were received in response to the 
proposed rule and RDEIS. The Forest Service considered all substantive 
comments as part of the rulemaking. The following is a section-by-
section description of changes to the final rule as compared to the 
proposed rule, comments received regarding that section, and the Agency 
response. A detailed analysis and response to public comment is 
contained in Appendix H of the FEIS.
    Sec.  294.40 Purpose. No substantive changes were made to this 
section. Only a minor edit was made to utilize the full name of 
``Colorado Roadless Areas'' rather than CRA because it is the first 
time this term is used in the rule text.
    Comments on the purpose of the rule: Some respondents asked for 
clarification regarding the intent of the Colorado Roadless Rule.
    Response: The intent of the final rule is contained in the FEIS 
Purpose and Need for Action section in Chapter 1 and in the Purpose and 
Need section of this preamble. Section 294.40 of the rule states the 
purpose of the rule is to provide ``State-specific direction for 
protection of roadless areas in Colorado.'' It also states that the 
intent is to ``protect roadless area characteristics * * * within 
CRAs.''
    Sec.  294.41 Definitions. Four changes were made to the definitions 
section based on comments received and/or concerns identified by the 
Forest Service.
    (1) The definition of an LCZ was modified to clarify the difference 
between it and a temporary road. The term ``maintain'' was added to the 
definition of an LCZ to clarify that LCZs could be used to maintain a 
linear facility as well as install one.
    (2) The definition of linear facilities was expanded to include 
dams.
    (3) A definition of a permanent road was added.
    (4) The definition of pre-existing water court decree was changed 
to include decreed water rights that were filed by the promulgation 
date of the final rule. In addition, the definition was changed to 
clarify that moving a head gate within a roadless area would not change 
the status of a pre-existing water court decree.
    (5) The definition of Watershed Conservation Practices (WCPs) was 
added to clarify that all project-level activities within cutthroat 
trout habitat would apply WCPs.
    Comments on the definition of at-risk community: Respondents asked 
for clarification of the definition of at-risk community.
    Response: The final rule utilizes the definition of an at-risk 
community from the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA). HFRA defines 
the term as a community listed in the notice entitled ``Wildland Urban 
Interface Communities Within the Vicinity of Federal Lands That Are at 
High Risk From Wildfire'' (66 FR 751) or as a group of homes and other 
structures with basic infrastructure and services, such as utilities, 
and collectively maintained transportation routes, within or adjacent 
to Federal land in which conditions are conducive to a large-scale 
wildland fire disturbance event and for which a significant threat to 
human life or property exists as a result of a wildland fire 
disturbance event.
    Comments on the definition of temporary road: Some respondents 
requested further discussion and reconsideration of the definition for 
temporary road, given that temporary roads can impact soil and water 
resources.
    Response: A temporary road is defined as a road necessary for 
emergency operations or authorized by contract, permit, lease, or other 
written authorization. A temporary road is not considered a forest road 
and does not become part of the transportation atlas. Although a 
temporary road is decommissioned at the end of its authorized use, 
temporary roads can be in operation for a few years to a decade or 
more. Temporary roads are not open to public travel. Any temporary 
roads would be subject to existing forest plan standards and guidelines 
that protect ecosystem conditions, including water quality. An appendix 
is included in the FEIS that describes the planning, design, approval, 
administration, construction, operation, maintenance and 
decommissioning of temporary roads as they would be applied in CRAs.
    Sec.  294.42 Prohibitions on tree cutting, sale, or removal. No 
substantive changes were made to this section.
    Comments on tree cutting near communities and consultation with the 
Colorado Division Parks and Wildlife. Some respondents would like to 
see the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife consulted on tree 
cutting for fuels reduction treatments and ecosystem restoration 
projections.
    Response. The rule offers cooperating agency status to the State of 
Colorado, which would include the Division of Parks of Wildlife, on all 
proposed projects and planning activities

[[Page 39584]]

occurring on CRAs (Sec.  294.45(b)). Tree cutting for community 
protection beyond the first 0.5 mile of the CPZ must be consistent with 
a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which is generally developed with 
assistance of State agencies.
    Comments on tree cutting in upper tier. Many respondents indicated 
concern over the ability to treat upper tier acres to manage for a 
multitude of environmental conditions. Some respondents indicated that 
the rule should include a tree cutting exception in upper tier acres to 
treat hazardous fuel loads, in areas that supply municipal water 
systems, to allow wildlife habitat improvements, watershed health, to 
treat for insects and diseases, acres that are adjacent to ski areas, 
and for fire suppression, emergencies, and public safety. Other 
respondents indicated that no tree cutting should occur in upper tier 
areas.
    Response: The rule strikes a balance between the need for tree 
cutting to protect at-risk communities and municipal water supply 
systems, habitat improvement projects, and ecosystem restoration, and 
the need to protect roadless area characteristics. Tree cutting for 
hazardous fuels treatment in upper tier is prohibited; however, the 
majority of the existing CPZs excluded upper tier acres in the final 
rule. The Colorado Roadless Rule provides for the State-specific 
concern of reducing the risk of wildfire to communities, despite the 
inclusion of 6,100 acres of the 0.5 mile CPZ in upper tier. This 
composes only about 2% of all the 0.5 mile CPZ, which is minimal, and 
it is likely that many of these acres would never be treated regardless 
of whether it is designated upper tier or non-upper tier. We note that 
although upper tier designation reduces the flexibility for fuel 
treatment on these particular 6,100 acres due to the limited 
exceptions, there are about 247,800 acres in the non-upper tier that 
are located within 0.5 miles of an at-risk community that will have 
increased flexibility compared to the 2001 Roadless Rule to cut trees 
and construct roads in order to minimize the risk of fire.
    In addition fuel reduction, as well as other objectives, such as 
watershed protection and insect/disease treatments, can be accomplished 
through the use of prescribed fire, limbing to reduce ladder fuels, and 
piling and burning. Fire line construction would be allowed in 
conjunction with prescribed burning, including incidental tree cutting 
to ensure effective fire lines. Tree cutting for wildlife habitat 
improvements in upper tier is prohibited; however, prescribed fire 
could be used for terrestrial wildlife habitat improvement. Tree 
cutting around ski areas is addressed by removal of existing ski area 
permit boundaries and forest plan allocated ski areas from CRAs.
    The only tree cutting allowed in upper tier is incidental to the 
implementation of a management activity not otherwise prohibited or for 
personal or administrative use. The responsible official determines if 
an activity is consistent with a tree cutting exception in upper tier. 
Examples of activities not otherwise prohibited include but are not 
limited to trail construction and maintenance; hazard tree removal 
along trails; fire line construction for wildland fire suppression or 
prescribed fire; survey and maintenance of property boundaries; 
maintenance of linear facilities such as existing electrical power 
lines, water conveyance structures with a pre-existing water court 
decree, and pipelines; use of LCZs associated with water conveyance 
structures; or road construction and reconstruction where allowed by 
the final rule. Tree cutting is allowed for imminent, direct risks to 
public safety and other emergency situations. Personal use includes 
activities such as Christmas tree and firewood cutting. Administrative 
use includes providing materials for activities such as construction of 
footbridges or fences.
    Comments on tree cutting in roadless areas to treat hazardous 
fuels. Many respondents indicated a need to cut trees for hazardous 
fuel management around communities and to protect infrastructure such 
as transmission lines and water conveyance facilities.
    Response: The rule recognizes the need for tree cutting to reduce 
the risk of wildfire to at-risk communities. It allows tree cutting in 
non-upper tier within 0.5 miles from the boundary of an at-risk 
community, or up to 1.5 miles if certain conditions exist and the area 
is within a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). A temporary road 
may be constructed to facilitate hazardous fuel reduction within 0.5 
miles of the boundary of an at-risk community. Tree cutting for 
protection of linear facilities such as transmission lines and water 
conveyance facilities is considered to be maintenance of those 
facilities, which is allowed under the final rule.
    In addition, tree cutting is allowed in non-upper tier acres if a 
significant risk exists to the municipal water supply system or the 
maintenance of that system. The final rule states that a significant 
risk exists under conditions in which the history of fire occurrence 
and fire hazard and risk indicate a serious likelihood that a wildland 
fire disturbance event could present a high risk or threat to a 
municipal water supply system. Examples of determining the risk to 
municipal water supply systems include the watershed assessments 
completed by the Front Range Watershed Wildfire Protection Group. These 
assessments were based on methods used by the Pinchot Institute for 
Conservation and considered wildfire hazard, flooding, debris flow 
risk, soil erodibility, and water uses to identify zones of concerns.
    Sec.  294.43 Prohibition on road construction and reconstruction. 
An exception in upper tier CRAs to allow for road construction to 
protect public health and safety in cases of an imminent threat of 
flood, fire or other catastrophic event was added. In addition, the 
word ``imminent'' was added to this exception as it is applied to non-
upper tier CRAs. The timeframe for the term imminent is situational 
dependent and could vary from hours to years. For example, for a flood 
or fire, imminent is likely hours but for dam failures, this could mean 
years. This exception does not constitute permission to engage in 
routine forest health activities, such as temporary road construction 
for thinning to reduce mortality due to insect and disease infestation. 
In addition, the responsible official must ensure conditions outlined 
in section 294.43, paragraph (b)(3) are met, which will ensure road 
construction is minimized and permanent roads are rare. Examples of 
appropriate uses of this exception include but are not limited to: A 
circumstance in which a road is needed to repair a dam that without 
intervention would fail and cause the loss of life or property; burned 
area emergency rehabilitation activities to protect municipal water 
supply systems; or activities to prevent or mitigate rock fall or a 
rock slide above a highway that without intervention could result in 
the loss of life or property.
    The phrase ``subject to the legal rights identified in 36 CFR 
294.43(b)(1)'' was added to the provision outlining items the 
responsible official must determine to utilize one of the two road 
exceptions for upper tier. This change in paragraph (b)(3) was to make 
the language consistent with paragraph (c)(2) and to clarify that the 
determinations made by the responsible official are subject to the 
legal rights pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights or as provided 
by statute or treaty in upper tier as well as non-upper tier.
    The phrase ``technically feasible'' has been changed to 
``feasible'' in

[[Page 39585]]

paragraphs (b)(3)(i) and (c)(2)(i). This change was made to clarify 
that the determination of what is feasible includes more factors than 
just technical issues.
    The condition that road construction must be consistent with 
applicable land management plan direction was added to (b)(3) to make 
it consistent with paragraph (c)(2) and to clarify that roads must be 
consistent with forest plan direction in upper tier as well as non-
upper tier.
    The phrase ``extent of the occupied'' was added to the provisions 
regarding whether road construction will diminish, over the long-term, 
conditions in the water influence zone and in occupied native cutthroat 
trout habitat (paragraph (b)(3)(iv) and paragraph (c)(2)(iv)). This 
term was added because almost all perennial streams in CRAs are 
historic native cutthroat trout habitat and the intent of this 
provision is not to have it applied to all streams, rather only those 
with native cutthroat trout within them.
    A provision was added that WCPs will be applied for all activities 
occurring in occupied cutthroat trout habitat. The WCP provision is to 
highlight that while some activities may appear disruptive to trout 
habitat and resources in the short-term, over the long-term, WCP 
techniques and methods are used to ensure that impact to trout habitat 
is minimized to only what is necessary, and that over time the overall 
trout habitat is restored and improved. Any project, including trout 
habitat restoration activities, may have short-term disturbances to 
roadless area characteristics. The rule includes flexibility to allow 
such projects to go forward, with WCPs applied, in order to improve or 
maintain roadless area characteristics and fish habitat conditions over 
the long-term.
    The term authorized use in paragraph (c)(1)(ii) was clarified to 
include uses authorized under permit, easement or other legal 
instrument.
    The phrase ``with the use of the road limited to the water right 
identified in the pre-existing water court decree'' was added to 
paragraph (c)(1)(iv) to clarify that a road constructed under this 
exception cannot be used for other uses. In addition, it was clarified 
that the Regional Forester would determine the need for a temporary 
road under this provision.
    Road decommissioning was added to the title of paragraph (d) and 
reconstruction was added to the title of paragraph (d)(1) for 
clarification. In addition, paragraph (d)(2) was modified to clarify 
that road decommissioning would occur upon termination of the 
authorizing instrument if possible. Examples of activities related to 
road decommissioning was added to paragraph (d)(2) to clarify the 
concept of road decommissioning.
    Three other edits were made for clarification.
    (1) In paragraph (c)(1)(ix) the word ``or'' was added between coal 
exploration and coal related surface activities to allow for only one 
purpose for road construction and not both purposes.
    (2) In paragraph (d)(4)(ii) the words ``an authorization issued 
under'' were removed because they were not necessary.
    (3) In paragraph (d)(1) the words ``to the extent practicable'' 
were removed because they were not necessary.
    Comments on road construction and reconstruction. Many respondents 
expressed concerns regarding access in upper tier areas for the 
operation, maintenance or development of water supply systems, for 
access to private properties, for mining and recreation and for grazing 
permit holders. Some respondents wanted additional exceptions and 
others wanted to eliminate exceptions for road construction altogether.
    Response: The rule strikes a balance between the need for roads for 
community protection, existing rights, economic interests, and the need 
to protect roadless area characteristics. Currently, there are no 
forest roads within CRAs, and it is the intent of the rule to limit 
road construction. Any road constructed under any of the exceptions in 
the rule will not provide public access, whether these roads are within 
upper tier portions of CRAs or not. The rule prohibits road 
construction in upper tier acres for the development of a future water 
supply structures but allows for development using a LCZ. In addition, 
areas with high potential for future water development projects were 
excluded from the areas designated as upper tier, reducing the 
potential limitations on future water supply projects.
    The rule provides for roads needed pursuant to reserved or 
outstanding rights, or as provided for by statute or treaty. ``Reserved 
or outstanding rights'' is a legal term of art that deals with a class 
of real property rights conveyed through sale or exchange. ``Reserved 
rights'' are property interests held back when land is conveyed between 
parties, such as split estate surface/subsurface conveyances. 
``Outstanding rights'' are third party rights in real property retained 
when the property is transferred or acquired. The ``reserved or 
outstanding right'' exception is intended to apply only when the agency 
lacks the authority or discretion to prohibit roads because the roads 
were reserved or outstanding prior to federal acquisition of the 
property. This reserved and outstanding exception would not provide the 
legal basis to access State created water rights as the State grant of 
a water right is not a reserved or outstanding right. Instead, access 
to State water rights on federal lands would occur in accordance with 
federal statutes, such as the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
    The rule provides for an exception for road construction to 
accommodate public health and safety concerns, which would include 
necessary reconstruction or maintenance of water conveyance structures 
in cases of emergency situations that threaten life or property. In 
addition, the rule allows motorized and non-motorized access into CRAs 
and does not affect reasonable exercise of reserved, outstanding, 
statutory, or treaty rights for access, occupancy and use of NFS lands 
within CRAs when the Agency lacks legal discretion to forbid such 
activities, for example exploration and mining of locatable minerals 
under the 1872 Mining Law.
    Comments were received indicating the need for an exception in all 
roadless acres to allow for post-fire recovery efforts. Burned area 
emergency rehabilitation activities to protect roads, private property 
or municipal water supply systems would be an appropriate use under the 
public health and safety exception. An example of this could be the 
need for a temporary road to construct sediment traps and check dams to 
control debris flows that could block culverts or jam bridges or damage 
reservoir capacity after a fire.
    One comment pointed out an inconsistency in the construct of the 
regulatory language between paragraph (b)(2) and paragraph (c)(2) of 
the proposed rule (paragraph (b)(2) is now (b)(3) in the final rule), 
expressing concern that it could be construed as an attempt to preclude 
roads for activities under the 1872 Mining Law in upper tier acres. In 
response, the final rule adds language to current paragraph (b)(3) to 
make it consistent with the wording of paragraph (c)(2) and reflects 
that the determinations to be made by the responsible official under 
both paragraphs are subject to the legal rights pursuant to reserved or 
outstanding rights, or as provided for by statute or treaty. The final 
rule also modified the language in paragraph (c)(2) to clarify its 
reference to the legal rights provided for in paragraph (c)(1) and that 
determinations are made by the

[[Page 39586]]

responsible official. These changes underscore that the right of 
reasonable access to locatable mineral exploration and development is 
not affected by the final rule or any of the alternatives analyzed in 
the FEIS, regardless of roadless designation as upper tier acres or 
non-upper tier acres.
    Comments on line officer authority for use of road construction 
exceptions. Some respondents indicated that there should be limitations 
to the discretionary authority granted to line officers (responsible 
officials) especially concerning road construction and reconstruction 
in upper tier acres.
    Response: The final rule limits the responsible official discretion 
by providing a narrow range of activities that are permitted in CRAs 
and several determinations must be made for road construction or 
reconstruction to be allowed. In addition, the Forest Service has very 
limited discretion for the two exceptions for road construction or 
reconstruction in upper tier. The exception for reserved or outstanding 
rights or as provided by statute or treaty means the Forest Service has 
limited authority to deny access. Examples of this include Revised 
Statute 2477 rights; access to inholdings under the Alaska National 
Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA); access to locatable minerals 
under the General Mining Law of 1872; response actions under the 
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 
(CERCLA); Federal Aid Highway project authorized pursuant to Title 23 
of the United States Code; or Federal Railroad project authorized 
pursuant to Title 49 of the United States Code.
    The other exception for road construction or reconstruction in 
upper tier is for roads needed to protect public health and safety in 
cases of an imminent threat of flood, fire or other catastrophic event 
that without intervention would cause the loss of life or property. 
This exception is anticipated to be applied infrequently because 
threats to life or property are relatively infrequent. Limiting the 
discretion of a responsible official for these types of cases could 
result in greater loss of life or property.
    Many of the exceptions would require a Regional Forester's 
determination on whether a proposed activity is consistent with the 
final rule. Activities allowed under the final rule which were not 
allowed under the 2001 Rule and the use of LCZs would require a 
Regional Forester determination. This higher level of review will 
provide for greater consistency on the implementation of the rule.
    Comment on constructing roads for coal mining. Some respondents 
specifically commented that there should be no exception for road 
construction for coal mining.
    Response. The final rule includes an exception to the prohibitions 
on road construction associated with coal mining only in the North Fork 
coal mining area. Coal mining is a valuable economic consideration to 
the State of Colorado and to many communities around the North Fork 
coal mining area. Roads are necessary for exploration and other coal 
related activities. Some of the areas within the North Fork coal mining 
area are under lease and others are not. Coal-related roads are used 
only by the coal operator and agency personnel, and are not open to the 
general public.
    Experience in the West Elk IRA on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, 
Gunnison National Forests shows that decommissioning roads by 
obliteration, along with land reclamation, effectively restores these 
underground mined areas.
    Comment on road decommissioning. Some respondents requested that 
the rule provide more direction for road decommissioning.
    Response. The final rule provides the broad programmatic 
requirement of road decommissioning in paragraph (d)(2). Providing 
specific requirements of road decommissioning in a programmatic 
regulation is problematic due to the high variability of ground 
conditions and road situations that could be encountered across 4.2 
million acres. Defining road decommissioning restrictions at the 
programmatic level limits the flexibility needed to address specific 
and possibly unique purposes for temporary roads in a variety of 
landscapes. This type of direction is generally best provided as Forest 
Service handbook direction, guidance, or in a site-specific decision in 
which each unique situation can be assessed.
    The FEIS includes Appendix F, page F-5 specifically, which outlines 
temporary road decommissioning requirements based on Forest Service 
manual and handbook. This section of the appendix describes direction 
for road decommissioning that would apply to temporary roads in CRAs.
    Sec.  294.44 Prohibition on linear construction zones. This section 
was reorganized into an upper tier section, paragraph (b), and non-
upper tier section, paragraph (c), to accommodate limiting the use of 
linear construction zones in upper tier. Under the final rule, LCZs are 
limited in upper tier to just two circumstances: (1) Reserved or 
outstanding rights, or as provided by statute or treaty; and (2) for 
water conveyance structures pursuant to a pre-existing water court 
decree.
    Paragraph (b) was changed from ``the Regional Forester may 
authorize a linear construction zone'' to ``the Regional Forester 
determines a linear construction zone is needed''. This change was made 
to parallel other Regional Forester determination language in the final 
rule and to clarify that this determination is not a formal decision 
under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
    The phrase ``technically feasible'' has been changed to 
``feasible'' in paragraph (d)(1). This change was made to clarify that 
the determination of what is feasible includes more factors than just 
technical issues.
    The phrase ``extent of the occupied'' was added to the provision 
regarding whether LCZs will diminish, over the long-term, conditions in 
the water influence zone and in occupied native cutthroat trout 
habitat. This word was added for the same reasons described in the 
parallel language for road construction and reconstruction in Sec.  
294.43.
    Provisions were added including LCZs would be no wider than its 
intended use; reclamation of LCZs will not diminish roadless area 
characteristics; and WCPs will be applied for all activities occurring 
in occupied cutthroat trout habitat. The WCP provision parallels the 
road provision and has been added for the same reasons, to minimize 
short-term impact with the long-term objective of restoring or 
improving native cutthroat trout habitat.
    The phrase ``while conserving roadless area characteristics over 
the long-term'' was added to paragraph (e) to clarify that 
decommissioning of LCZs needs to be conducted in a manner that 
minimizes impacts to roadless area characteristics over the long-term.
    Comment on linear construction zones. Some respondents indicated 
that LCZs should be prohibited in upper tier and others indicated that 
no LCZs should be allowed under the rule. Others offered various 
suggested limitations or exceptions for the use of LCZs for a variety 
of management activities. Some respondents were concerned about the 
rule's affect to maintenance, development and expansion of reservoirs 
and oil and gas development.
    Response. Linear construction zones were not prohibited under the 
2001 Roadless Rule. One of the State-specific concerns is to restrict 
the use of LCZs, while permitting access to current and future 
electrical power lines and meeting the other State-specific

[[Page 39587]]

concerns. Linear construction zones are prohibited under the Colorado 
Roadless Rule with specific exceptions if a responsible official 
determines that the LCZ meets certain conditions.
    The rule accommodates the development and expansion of reservoirs 
by the use of road construction (in non-upper tier acreage) or LCZs (in 
all CRA acreage) where the water right has been filed with the State 
prior to July 3, 2012. Future known reservoir locations are not within 
upper tier acreage, acknowledging the fact that for the most part, a 
road will not need to be constructed in upper tier for development of a 
reservoir.
    The rule provides that the Regional Forester may authorize an LCZ 
for construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of existing or future 
authorized electrical power and communication lines within non-upper 
tier acres if there is no opportunity for the project to be implemented 
outside the CRA without causing substantially greater environmental 
damage. In doing this the Forest Service and the State of Colorado seek 
a balance between protecting roadless area characteristics and 
accommodating State-specific concerns. LCZs for electric power and 
communication lines are not allowed within upper tier acres.
    The rule prohibits oil and gas pipelines within CRAs, except on oil 
and gas leases within CRAs where surface use is allowed and for leases 
outside of CRAs that need to connect to infrastructure within a CRA. 
Surface use would not be allowed on any new leases issued in upper tier 
acres, so pipelines would not be allowed. Pipelines would be allowed 
for new leases in non-upper tier acres where the forest plan allows 
surface occupancy. However, it is anticipated that there would be few 
new leases actually issued in non-upper tier areas as they would have 
to be developed by directional drilling from locations outside of CRAs. 
The limited applicability of the LCZ exception in the rule is a 
reasonable approach to addressing the issues of preventing the loss of 
roadless area characteristics and preventing the loss of opportunity to 
feasibly transport oil and gas resources using pipelines. The LCZ 
exceptions are allowed because water development is critical to 
Colorado and many other western states; energy sources need to be 
connected to the electrical grid, and oil and gas developments need 
pipelines for product removal. Within upper tier acres, LCZs are only 
allowed for oil and gas leases existing as of July 3, 2012 that allow 
surface occupancy.
    Some commenters indicated a desire to utilize existing disturbed 
areas as much as possible for future linear facilities. Nothing in the 
final rule would prohibit an LCZ being routed through a previously used 
LCZ. In addition, the rule encourages utilization of previously 
disturbed areas as provided in section 294.44, paragraph (e), which 
requires LCZs to minimize ground disturbance, including the placement 
within existing right-of-ways where feasible. Also, section 294.46, 
paragraph (d)(6) encourages co-location of oil and gas linear 
facilities, consistent with health and safety standards, within areas 
of existing areas of disturbance. However, industry standards for 
separation of utilities or other factors could reduce the ability to do 
so.
    Comments on Regional Forester determinations for LCZ: Some 
respondents indicated that the Regional Forester should not have 
determinations for LCZ decisions.
    Response. The final rule includes Regional Forester determination 
for LCZs to ensure a level of consistency. This is of particular 
importance with LCZs because of the potential overlap of certain 
aspects of an LCZ and a temporary road. Both are utilized by motorized 
vehicles to move from one point to another on a temporary basis. 
However, key differences exist that separate the two, including 
location selection, design, and use. Generally, the location of a 
temporary road is defined largely by the desired end points with 
substantial discretion of road location in between the end points. On 
the other hand, the location of an LCZ on the landscape is often 
constrained by the linear facility requirements, which limits the 
discretion of where an LCZ can be put. For example, it is difficult and 
often impractical to design a pipeline with a sharp turn. However a 
temporary road can be designed to go around obstacles and areas of 
concerns more readily.
    Both LCZs and temporary roads need to consider environmental/
resource conditions and safety issues during design. However, traffic 
requirements, level of service, traffic management, user efficiency, 
stopping distance, and surfacing are rarely considered in the design of 
an LCZ. Rather construction right-of-way width is a main consideration 
for LCZ design, which includes the determination of how much surface 
disturbance is needed to install or maintain the linear facility. Often 
an LCZ is created at the same time it is being used. For example, a 
pipeline being constructed across flat ground, an LCZ can be 
``developed'' as the trench is being dug. In this example, no 
construction is needed to ``use'' the LCZ. In contrast, temporary roads 
are constructed prior to use. Gradients of LCZs, especially for power 
lines, are often much steeper than would typically be found on a 
temporary road.
    Due to the relatively new concept of LCZs and the potential for 
confusion with temporary roads, it was deemed important to centralize 
the determination for use of LCZs in CRAs with the Regional Forester. 
This would also facilitate identification of any additional guidance 
needed to ensure resource protection as well as appropriate use of 
LCZs. Regional Forester determination is a review process designed to 
be separate from the NEPA process. The Regional Forester is required to 
review the project but will not be the ``responsible official'' in the 
NEPA context.
    Comment on linear construction zone decommissioning. Some 
respondents were concerned that the LCZ decommissioning direction was 
not addressing roadless area characteristics over the long-term.
    Response. The language ``while conserving roadless area 
characteristics over the long-term'' was added to (c) to address the 
need to reclaim the affected landscape but also retain and or improve 
the roadless area characteristics.
    Sec.  294.45 Environmental documentation. The sentence in paragraph 
(a) that states ``proposals that substantially alter the undeveloped 
character of a Colorado Roadless Area require an EIS'' was changed to 
``proposed actions that would significantly alter the undeveloped 
character of a Colorado Roadless Area would require an EIS''. This 
change was made so the final rule is consistent with the Agency's 
environmental policies for EISs as described in FSH 1909.15.21.
    The words ``subject to this rule that would'' were added in 
paragraph (b) to read: ``* * *all proposed projects and planning 
activities subject to this rule that would be implemented on lands 
within CRAs* * *'' This change was made because the intent of offering 
the cooperating agency status to the State is to ensure consistent 
implementation of the final rule. Many projects, such as trail 
construction projects or reissuance of a grazing permit, are not 
subject to the final rule and therefore, may not be appropriate for 
State involvement.
    Comments on ``substantially alter'' definition: Some respondents 
requested that the definition of ``substantially alter'' should be 
clarified in the context of certain activities.
    Response. There no longer is a need to define ``substantially 
alter'' in the final rule because the term has been replaced with 
``significantly alter.'' This

[[Page 39588]]

change was made so paragraph (a) is consistent with agency policy and 
regulations on when an EIS is required. The term ``significantly'' is 
defined in 40 CFR 1508.27.
    Sec.  294.46 Other activities. A new paragraph was inserted, 
paragraph (a), to address the concern regarding the modification of a 
water right. This change was needed to clarify that a water right with 
a pre-existing water court decree could be modified and still be 
accommodated by the exceptions in the final rule for water conveyance 
structures despite having a new filing date.
    Sentences were added to paragraph (b) to clarify that the intent of 
the rule is to maintain the status quo in terms of existing leases, 
including surface development rights, and limitations on surface 
developments. The final rule does not validate nor invalidate any 
existing leases.
    A new paragraph was inserted, paragraph (c), to require a no 
surface occupancy stipulation for oil and gas leases issued within 
upper tier after the promulgation date of the final rule. This 
provision was added to provide greater protection for upper tier acres.
    In paragraph (d) the phrase ``and consistent with lease rights'' 
was added to clarify that the conditions (d)(1) to (d)(8) must be 
consistent with the existing lease rights to be applied to the surface 
use plan of operation.
    In paragraph (d)(3) the text ``to the extent practical'' was 
removed, as it was determined to be not necessary. Also, ``topography'' 
was removed and ``surface conditions'' was replaced with ``surface and 
or operational conditions'' for clarification.
    In paragraphs (d)(1), (d)(4), (d)(5) and (d)(6) the qualifying 
language ``to the extent possible'' and ``to the extent feasible'' were 
removed as not necessary.
    Paragraph (d)(8) was changed from ``utilize the best available 
technology'' to ``consider the best available technology''. This change 
was made because the Forest Service does not have the authority to 
mandate the use of best available technology, which is a Clean Air Act 
term used in the context of limiting pollutant discharges.
    Comments on water conveyance structures. Comments were received 
requesting that the rule allow for the construction and maintenance of 
existing and future water conveyance structures in response to future 
and pre-existing water rights.
    Response. The rule does not confer any right to existing or future 
use of water or occupancy of NFS lands within the State of Colorado. 
Such rights must be acquired in accordance with applicable State and 
Federal laws. The final rule exempts activities associated with 
conditional and absolute water rights decreed by the Colorado Water 
Courts prior to promulgation of the final rule. In addition, the final 
rule accommodates modification of water rights with a pre-existing 
water court decree.
    Comments requesting no surface occupancy in upper tier: Some 
respondents requested the rule require no surface occupancy in upper 
tier acres.
    Response. Based on public comments that were received and 
additional analysis, prohibiting surface occupancy in upper tier acres 
was added to the preferred alternative in the FEIS and is part of the 
final rule.
    Comments on oil and gas. Many responses were received concerning 
various aspects of oil and gas development and the rule. Some 
respondents requested that roadless areas that have high potential for 
oil and gas development be excluded from roadless area protection or 
that exceptions for oil and gas be provided to allow for development. 
Other respondents felt the rule should prohibit oil and gas leasing, or 
exceptions for roads for leasing, within CRAs. Still other respondents 
requested that the rule prohibit road construction specifically on 
leases issued after the 2001 Roadless Rule was promulgated.
    Response. Roadless inventory procedures follow Forest Service 
Handbook 1909.12, Land Management Handbook procedures. Whether or not 
an area is identified as having high mineral potential is not an 
inventory criterion and a high potential for mineral occurrence does 
not always equate to a high potential for mineral development. The 
purpose of the rule was to provide for the management of roadless 
areas, not to prohibit oil and gas leasing. Under the rule, existing 
legal oil and gas leases as of the date of the final rule can continue 
to operate under their lease stipulations. The 2001 Roadless Rule 
prohibited road construction to access mineral leases issued after the 
promulgation of the rule (January 12, 2001). Since 2001, the 2001 
Roadless Rule has been subject to legal challenges, and leases have 
been issued in areas now identified as Colorado Roadless Areas. The 
Colorado Roadless Rule does not affect the terms or validity of leases 
existing prior to the promulgation date of the final rule. This rule 
preserves any surface development rights and limitations on surface 
development rights existing at the time of adoption of this rule on all 
oil and gas leases.
    However, in response to public comment, the rule has been modified 
to include stipulations for no-surface occupancy for new oil and gas 
leases (leases issued after the promulgation date of the final rule) 
within the upper tier. Under the rule, leasing could still occur, but 
occupancy of the surface with roads, wellpads, or other infrastructure 
within the upper tier is prohibited. In non-upper tier areas, surface 
occupancy but not road construction would still be allowed for new oil 
and gas leases.
    The final rule does not distinguish whether existing oil and gas 
leases were issued before or after the original promulgation date of 
the 2001 Roadless Rule. Forest Service actions concerning leases issued 
within roadless areas in Colorado since promulgation of the 2001 
Roadless Rule were done in compliance with all legal requirements and 
forest plans/leasing decisions in effect at the time consent was 
provided to the BLM. Once issued by the BLM, leases grant the exclusive 
right to drill for, extract, remove, and dispose of all the oil and gas 
from the lease, subject to terms and stipulations made as part of the 
lease. For purposes of the FEIS, all existing oil and gas leases within 
roadless areas, including post-2001 leases, are considered to be 
``existing authorizations''. None of the alternatives in the FEIS 
restrict or prohibit activities associated with existing 
authorizations, including the construction of temporary roads and 
pipelines reasonably necessary to exercise lease rights.
    All oil and gas leases issued by the BLM are considered valid 
regardless of whether they were issued before or after the 2001 
Roadless Rule. If an existing lease is found at a later date to be 
invalid through a court of law, then any rights associated with that 
particular lease, including surface occupancy rights, would not be 
provided for by the final rule.
    Sec.  294.47 Modifications and administrative corrections. No 
substantive comments specifically related to modifications and 
administrative corrections of the rule were received. However, the 
Forest Service recognized a need to be able to correct boundaries for 
upper tier designations. Therefore, paragraph (b) for administrative 
correction to boundaries was modified to include the ability to correct 
upper tier boundaries based on clerical errors or improvements in 
mapping technology.
    Sec.  294.48 Scope and applicability. No changes were made to this 
section. No substantive comments were specifically related to scope and 
applicability.

[[Page 39589]]

    Sec.  294.49 List of designated Colorado Roadless Areas. No 
substantive comments were received specifically related to the list of 
designated CRAs. However, a column was added to the list of CRAs to 
indicate which CRA includes upper tier acres. This change was made to 
clarify locations of upper tier.
    Comments received related to the rule but not to a particular 
section. Many comments were received related to the rule but not 
specific to a particular provision or section of the rule. For example, 
the designation of upper tier acres and the North Fork coal mining area 
is not specifically addressed in the provisions of the rule but 
certainly an important outcome of the final rule. The following 
sections summarize those comments.
    Based on public comments, the amount of upper tier acres designated 
was increased to about 1,219,200 acres. This change was needed to 
balance the conservation of roadless area characteristics with 
activities to provide for State-specific concerns. In addition, the 
North Fork coal mining area was reduced to 19,100 acres based on 
additional consideration of potential mineable coal.
    Comments on the authority of the Secretary to make rules. There 
were concerns expressed that there is no congressionally approved 
authority for designation of upper tier acres and that a future 
Secretary could change the prohibitions and exceptions in the current 
rule.
    Response. The Constitution provides the fundamental basis for 
control, acquisition, disposition, use and management of all federally 
owned lands, including NFS lands. Article IV, Section 3, paragraph 2 of 
the Constitution provides: The Congress shall have power to dispose of 
and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the Territory or 
other property belonging to the United States. Congress has authorized 
the Secretary of Agriculture to manage NFS lands under conditions 
described in various acts, including the Organic Administration Act of 
1897 and the Multiple-Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960. The Organic 
Administration Act of 1897 provides the Secretary of Agriculture with 
the authority to make ``rules and regulations'' that will provide 
protection from fire and depredation, regulate occupancy and use, and 
preserve the forest from destruction. The Secretary of Agriculture has 
the authority to make rules and regulations such as the Colorado 
Roadless Rule and future Secretaries will also have the authority to 
make, or change, such rules.
    Comments on multiple uses. Some respondents requested that the rule 
address recreation and management of recreational areas and areas of 
multiple uses.
    Response. The Agency's mission is to manage multiple uses across 
NFS lands, including developed and dispersed recreation opportunities. 
The rule restricts only tree cutting, sale, and removal; road 
construction and reconstruction; and LCZs (with some exceptions) in 
CRAs. None of the alternatives affect access or use of existing roads 
and trails, including motorized travel on roads and trails, nor do they 
regulate recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, 
camping, mountain biking, summer/winter motorized recreation and 
skiing.
    Comments on protection of resources: Comments were received that 
the Forest Service should increase protection on a variety of resources 
including, but not limited to: Municipal water supplies, cold water 
resources, fisheries, big game habitat, wildlife viability, etc.
    Response. One of the primary purposes of the Colorado Roadless Rule 
is the conservation of roadless area characteristics, which includes 
sources of public drinking water and diversity of plants and animals, 
as well as other resources. The provisions of the final rule provide 
for an increased level of conservation of roadless area characteristics 
while balancing State-specific concerns, when compared to Alternatives 
1 or 3.
    Comments to modify the rule to expand, reduce, or eliminate upper 
tier designations. Many comments were received regarding upper tier 
designation in the rule. Respondents either favor the designation of 
upper tier acres or oppose the designation of any upper tier areas in 
the rule. Some respondents indicated that there is a need for more 
upper tier acres to increase protection for fish and wildlife habitats 
and Colorado's recreational resources. Some comments suggested 
substantially increasing the number of acres within the upper tier, 
while others consider the upper tier ``de facto wilderness'' and 
therefore inappropriate. Some comments suggested provisions that would 
allow for expansion of the upper tier in the future. Respondents in 
favor of the upper tier often had specific suggestions on CRAs to be 
included in upper tier. Some respondents suggested removing all upper 
tier acres from the Colorado Roadless Rule.
    Response. Upper tier acres are a subset of the CRAs which have 
limited exceptions to provide a high-level of conservation. Upper tier 
acres in the rule represent areas with the highest-quality roadless 
area characteristics where there are no known conflicts, or limited 
conflicts, such as existing oil and gas leases, existing or future coal 
leases, known water conveyance structures or the high likelihood of 
future development needs for water development. A common theme heard 
from the public was to allow tree cutting and minimal road construction 
to reduce the risk of a high severity wildfire threatening Colorado's 
at-risk communities within upper tier acres. Therefore, the majority of 
the upper tier acres were removed from CPZs in the final rule. The 
designation of upper tier is distributed among all of the forests in 
the final rule.
    The final rule increases the amount of upper tier to about 
1,219,200 acres (29% of CRAs) for the final rule, which is about 
657,000 acres more than what was proposed action in the RDEIS. The 
Department, Forest Service and State of Colorado agreed that an 
increase in the amount of upper tier acres provides a better balance of 
protection and uses. Substantially more upper tier acres than have been 
designated for the final rule could hinder the Forest Service's ability 
to provide for State-specific concerns. Substantially less upper tier 
acres than have been proposed in the RDEIS would not offset the greater 
flexibility the final rule provides for the State-specific concerns.
    Upper tier acres are not a designation of de facto wilderness. 
Upper tier only restricts tree cutting, road construction and use of 
LCZs. Upper tier allows for the use of motorized and mechanized 
equipment, while official wilderness does not. Upper tier allows for 
motorized recreation, including future development of off-highway 
vehicle trails; official wilderness prohibits motorized recreation. 
Upper tier prohibitions can be modified through rulemaking, while 
wilderness changes require an act of Congress.
    Comment. The Forest Service should reconsider upper-tier 
restrictions, including their overlap with CPZs, to ensure that options 
are available for fuels and forest health treatments.
    Response. In response to public comments, the final rule excludes 
the majority of upper tier acres from the CPZ. Not all CPZs were 
excluded from upper tier designation due to topography, forest plan 
desired conditions, and manageability of an area.
    Comments on Currant Creek CRA and the North Fork coal mining area. 
Many respondents had concerns regarding Currant Creek CRA and the North 
Fork coal mining area. Some respondents felt

[[Page 39590]]

that the rule should exclude Currant Creek from the North Fork coal 
mining area, while others felt the rule should include Currant Creek in 
the North Fork coal mining area. Some respondents felt the rule should 
not reduce the size of the North Fork coal mining area. Some 
respondents felt the rule should revise road construction provisions 
related to the North Fork coal mining area.
    Response. After consideration of public input and additional 
analyses, the final rule excludes the Currant Creek CRA from the North 
Fork coal mining area. Therefore, no roads will be constructed in the 
Currant Creek CRA related to coal mining activities. The residual North 
Fork coal mining area includes 19,100 acres where temporary roads can 
be constructed for coal related activities. The Forest Service 
consulted with BLM and State agencies, and considered information on 
the presence and mineability of coal resources in Currant Creek CRA and 
adjacent areas. The Forest Service also weighed public input and 
economic factors, information on wildlife resources, and the best 
available geologic information available from the United States 
Geological Survey (USGS), Colorado Geological Survey, and BLM when 
making determinations on the boundaries of the North Fork coal mining 
area.
    Currant Creek CRA was not added to the North Fork coal mining area 
due to the presence of high priority habitat as identified by the 
Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, the juxtaposition of these 
habitats to adjacent important habitat, and the need to maintain 
contiguous areas insulated from roads and fragmentation. In addition, 
Currant Creek CRA was not added because it is a relatively unique 
roadless area due to its low elevation and the potential that road 
development for coal mining activities could displace the two elk herds 
currently utilizing this area increasing wildlife-human conflicts.
    Comments regarding effect to mining interests. Some respondents 
suggested modifying the roadless area boundaries to exclude the 
Henderson Mine and other mining interests, because it may prevent their 
ability to develop future potential sites and respond in the case of 
emergencies. Additionally, some respondents are concerned that the 
proposed rule will prohibit mineral extraction, such as quarries to 
construct roads and highways.
    Response. The rule does not prohibit mineral extraction or the 
development of mineral material sites. Any person prospecting, 
locating, and developing mineral resources on NFS lands under the 1872 
mining law has a statutory right of reasonable access for those 
purposes. Roads that are reasonably necessary for an activity conducted 
under the 1872 mining law are provided for by statute, and therefore 
exempt from the road construction and reconstruction prohibitions of 
the rule. With the right of access preserved under the rule, it was not 
necessary to exclude any unpatented mining claims from designated 
roadless areas. Road construction and reconstruction are allowed under 
the rule for emergency situations that threaten human life and 
property.
    Comments regarding modification of the West Needles CRA boundary 
near Durango Mountain Resort. A commenter requested that the West 
Needles CRA boundary be modified to exclude activities permitted to the 
Durango Mountain Resort ski area.
    Response. The Forest Service reviewed the activities authorized 
under the current Durango Mountain Resort ski area permit against the 
boundary of the West Needles CRA. Authorized activities on the east 
side of Highway 550 include a proposed sleigh/accessible trail, a 
nordic ski trail system, and a trailhead. The trailhead and associated 
parking are outside of the West Needles CRA. Portions of the proposed 
sleigh/accessible trail and nordic ski trail system are within the West 
Needles CRA. Construction and maintenance of the proposed sleigh/
accessible trail and nordic trail system as authorized by the September 
2008 Record of Decision for the Durango Mountain Resorts 2008 
Improvement Plan are not prohibited under the Colorado Roadless Rule. 
Future tree cutting needed to construct or maintain these trails could 
occur under the exception for tree cutting incidental to the 
implementation of a management activity not otherwise prohibited. For 
these reasons, the Forest Service did not see the need to change the 
boundary of the West Needles CRA.

Regulatory Certifications

Regulatory Planning and Review

    The final rule was reviewed under USDA procedures, E.O. 12866 
issued September 30, 1993 as amended by E.O. 13497 on Regulatory 
Planning and Review, and the major rule provisions of the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 800). 
Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all costs 
and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is 
necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits 
(including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety 
effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of 
reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. 
These executive orders require that agencies conduct a regulatory 
analysis for economically significant regulatory actions. Economically 
significant regulatory actions are those that have an annual effect on 
the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect the economy or 
economic sectors. Total annual output associated with oil, gas, and 
coal production in the affected areas is projected to be approximately 
$760 million under the final rule, compared to $694 million under 
baseline conditions, implying the annual incremental monetized impact 
of the final rule is an increase of $65 million per year for total oil, 
gas, and coal output. The monetized economic impacts for the final rule 
are therefore estimated to be less than $100 million per year. However, 
this rule has been designated a significant regulatory action although 
not economically significant, under section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866. Accordingly, the rule has been reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget. This final rule is not expected to interfere 
with an action taken or planned by another agency, or to raise new 
legal or policy issues. This action will not alter the budgetary impact 
of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and 
obligations of recipients of such programs.
    The benefits, costs, and distributional effects of four 
alternatives are analyzed over a 15-year time period. The four 
alternatives evaluated are referred to as follows: Alternative 1--the 
2001 Roadless Rule; Alternative 2--the final Colorado Roadless Rule 
(final rule); Alternative 3--provisions of Forest Plans; and 
Alternative 4--a modified version of Alternative 2 with additional 
upper tier acreage. The baseline condition for regulatory impact 
analysis is the 2001 Roadless Rule (Alternative 1). The final rule is 
programmatic in nature and intended to guide future development of 
proposed actions in CRAs. The final rule is intended to provide greater 
management flexibility under certain circumstances to address unique 
and local land management challenges, while continuing to conserve 
roadless area characteristics. Increased management flexibility is 
primarily needed to reduce hazardous fuels around at-risk communities, 
to allow access to coal reserves in the North Fork coal mining area, 
and to

[[Page 39591]]

allow access to future water conveyances.
    The final rule does not authorize the implementation of any ground-
disturbing activities, but rather it describes circumstances under 
which several activities may be allowed or restricted in CRAs. Before 
authorizing land use activities in roadless areas, the Forest Service 
must complete a more detailed and site-specific environmental analysis 
pursuant to NEPA and its implementing regulations.
    Because the final rule does not prescribe site-specific activities, 
it is difficult to predict changes in benefits and costs or other 
changes under the different alternatives. It should also be emphasized 
that the types of benefits derived from uses of roadless areas in 
Colorado are far ranging and include a number of non-market and non-use 
benefit categories that are difficult to measure in monetary terms. As 
a consequence, benefits are not monetized, nor are net present values 
or benefit cost ratios estimated. Instead, increases and/or losses in 
benefits are discussed separately for each resource area in a 
quantitative or qualitative manner. Benefits and costs are organized 
and discussed in the context of local land management challenges or 
concerns (`local challenges') and `roadless area characteristics' in an 
effort to remain consistent with the overall purpose of the final rule, 
recognizing that benefits associated with local challenges may trigger 
or overlap with benefits associated with roadless area characteristics 
in some cases (e.g., forest health). Access and designations for 
motorized versus non-motorized recreation is a topic raised in 
comments, however, the final rule does not provide direction on where 
and when off-highway vehicle use would be permissible and makes clear 
that travel planning-related actions should be addressed through travel 
management planning and individual forest plans.
    Distributional effects or economic impacts, in terms of jobs and 
labor income, are quantified for the oil and gas and the coal sectors 
for an economic area consisting of five Colorado counties (Delta, 
Garfield, Mesa, Montrose, and Rio Blanco) using a regional impact 
model. Fiscal impacts (i.e., mineral lease payments) are estimated for 
counties where changes in mineral activity are expected to be 
physically located (Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa, and Pitkin). The 
distributional effects associated with reducing wildfire hazard are 
characterized by estimating the extent to which CPZ areas (i.e., 0.5 to 
1.5 mile buffer areas surrounding at-risk communities from wildfire) 
overlap CRAs where tree cutting for fuel treatments has been identified 
as being likely to occur. Distributional effects or economic impacts 
are not evaluated for other economic sectors (e.g., timber harvest, 
recreation) due to evidence presented in Tables 2 and 3 suggesting that 
the extent or magnitude of changes in output or services are not 
sufficient to cause significant changes in jobs and income for those 
economic sectors.
    Details about the environmental effects of the final rule can be 
found in the FEIS. Effects on opportunities for small entities under 
the final rule are discussed in the context of Executive Order 13272 
regarding proper consideration of small entities and the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), which amended the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et.seq.).
    The results of the regulatory impact assessment for the final rule 
are summarized in the following tables. Table 2 provides information 
related to roadless area acreage, road miles, and tree cutting. Table 3 
summarizes the potential benefits (i.e., protection of roadless area 
characteristics and values) and costs (i.e., local resource challenges, 
agency costs) of Alternatives 1, 2, 3 and 4. Table 4 summarizes 
distributional effects and economic impacts of the proposed rule and 
alternatives.

       Table 2--Framework for Analysis: Comparison of Roadless Area Acreage, Road Miles, and Tree Cutting
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Alternative 1--                                             Alternative 4--
                                  2001 Roadless Rule    Alternative 2--     Alternative 3--   proposed rule with
                                       (baseline          Final Rule         forest plans      public identified
                                      condition)                                              upper tier acres 1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Roadless Area Acreage 2.........  IRAs = 4,243,600    CRAs = 4,186,000    IRAs = 4,243,600    CRAs = 4,186,000
                                   acres (4.24         acres (4.19         acres.              acres (4.19
                                   million acres).     million acres).                         million acres).
                                                      Upper Tier CRAs =   ..................  Upper Tier CRAs =
                                                       1,219,200 acres.                        2,614,200 acres.
Roadless Acres in Upper Tier....  Not applicable....  1,219,200 acres...  Not applicable....  2,614,200 acres.
Total Existing Authorized Road    1,235 miles in      0 miles in CRAs...  1,235 miles.......  0 miles in CRAs.
 Miles in Roadless Areas 3.        IRAs.
Road Construction and             13.8 miles/year     19.7 miles/year     25.8 miles/year...  17.9 miles/year
 Reconstruction Projected in the   (11 miles in        (16 in CRAs).      12.0 miles/year      (14 in CRAs).
 Analysis Area.                    IRAs).             5.9 miles/year       more than 2001     4.1 miles/year
                                                       more than 2001      Roadless Rule.      more than 2001
                                                       Roadless Rule.                          Roadless Rule.
Tree cutting Projected in the     2,670 acres/year    7,320 acres/year    17,380 acres/year.  3,140 acres/year
 Analysis Area.                    (1,520 acres        (5,970 acres                            (1,790 acres
                                   within IRAs).       within CRAs,                            within CRAs).
                                                       majority within
                                                       CPZs).
                                                      4,650 acres/year    14,710 acres/year   470 acres/year
                                                       more than 2001      more than 2001      more than 2001
                                                       Roadless Rule.      Roadless Rule.      Roadless Rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 Alternative 4 is the same as Alternative 2 with the exception that more roadless areas are assigned to the
  upper tier restrictions.
2 The total analysis area is approximately 4.65 million acres and is the same across all four alternatives.
3 Approximately 117 miles of roads are projected to be decommissioned in IRAs and 0 miles decommissioned in
  CRAs.


[[Page 39592]]


                Table 3--Comparison of the Final Rule and Alternative 4 With Baseline Conditions
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                   Alternative 1--                                              Alternative 4--
                                  2001 Roadless Rule    Alternative 2--     Alternative 3--   proposed rule with
   Issue or affected resource         (baseline           Final rule         Forest plans      public identified
                                      condition)                                               upper tier acres
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Local Challenges and Resources: Roadless Area Management
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fire and Fuels (Hazardous Fuel   Tree cutting         Tree cutting        Tree cutting        Tree cutting
 Reductions).                     projected for 890    projected for       projected for       projected for
                                  acres per year in    5,510 acres per     13,350 acres per    2,000 acres per
                                  the analysis area    year in the         year in the         year in the
                                  to reduce            analysis area to    analysis area to    analysis area to
                                  hazardous fuels      reduce fuels        reduce fuels;       reduce fuels
                                  (30 acres of which   (4,900 of which     this amounts to     (1,390 of which
                                  are within IRAs      are within CRAs,    21% of annual       are within CRAs,
                                  substantially        mostly with the     fuel treatments     mostly within the
                                  altered acres);      CPZ); this          on all NFS lands    CPZ); this
                                  this amounts to 1%   amounts to 9% of    in CO.              amounts to 3% of
                                  of average annual    annual fuel        Greatest             annual fuel
                                  fuel treatments on   treatments on all   flexibility to      treatments on all
                                  all NFS lands in     NFS lands in CO     conduct hazardous   NFS lands in CO
                                  Colorado.            and is 4,620        fuel reduction      and is 110 acres
                                 Least flexibility     acres more than     and reduce fire     more than the
                                  to conduct           the 2001 rule and   risk to             2001 rule and
                                  hazardous fuel       7,869 acres less    communities and     11,350 less than
                                  reduction and        than forest         municipal water     forest plans.
                                  reduce fire hazard   plans.              supply systems.    Within the CRAs
                                  around at-risk      More flexibility    Options available    that are non-
                                  communities and      than the 2001       for fuel            upper tier acres,
                                  municipal water      rule (and           reduction include   the flexibility
                                  supply systems.      Alternative 4) to   prescribed fire,    to conduct
                                                       conduct hazardous   mechanical          hazardous fuel
                                                       fuel reduction      treatment, and      reduction and
                                                       and reduce fire     road construction   reduce fire risk
                                                       risk to             as needed to        to communities
                                                       communities and     facilitate          and municipal
                                                       municipal water     treatment.          water supply
                                                       supply systems.                         systems is
                                                       Less flexibility                        identical to the
                                                       than forest                             final rule.
                                                       plans.                                 Greater amount of
                                                      Limited amounts of                       upper tier acres
                                                       the CRAs within                         with tree cutting
                                                       either the 0.5 or                       prohibited
                                                       1.5 mile CPZs are                       results in least
                                                       in the upper tier                       number of acres
                                                       acres.                                  for tree cutting
                                                                                               for fuels
                                                                                               reduction.
                                 ...................  ..................  ..................  Unable to conduct
                                                                                               hazardous fuels
                                                                                               reduction on 48%
                                                                                               of 0.5 mile CPZ
                                                                                               and 52% of 1.5
                                                                                               mile CPZ due to
                                                                                               upper tier acre
                                                                                               prohibitions.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Forest Health including reduced  Forest health treatments are limited to some degree due to the characteristics
 risk from Insect and Disease     and locations of roadless areas, as well as economic viability of treatments,
 Outbreaks.                       under all alternatives. Most or large portions of roadless areas will remain
                                  unmanaged (i.e., with no treatments) under the alternatives and baseline
                                  conditions. Roadless areas that remain unmanaged will likely continue to
                                  depart from desired conditions. Declines in forest health would result in some
                                  landscapes being less resilient to large-scale insect and disease outbreaks.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Fewest               Greater             Greatest            Similar effects
                                  opportunities to     opportunity to      opportunity and     compared to the
                                  improve forest       improve forest      flexibility to      final rule but
                                  health.              health compared     improve forest      slight decrease
                                 Tree cutting for      to the 2001 rule    health.             in opportunities
                                  treatment purposes   and Alternative 4  Tree cutting for     to improve forest
                                  is projected for     but lower than      treatment           health due to
                                  2,670 acres per      forest plans.       purposes            restrictions on
                                  year.               Tree cutting for     projected for       tree-cutting in
                                                       treatment           17,380 acres per    upper tier
                                                       purposes            year.               roadless areas.
                                                       projected for      Higher likelihood   Tree-cutting for
                                                       7,320 acres per     of achieving        treatment
                                                       year (4,650 acres   management          purposes
                                                       more than the       objectives.         projected for
                                                       2001 rule and                           3,140 acres per
                                                       10,060 acres less                       year (470 acres
                                                       than forest                             more than the
                                                       plans).                                 2001 rule and
                                                      Increased                                14,240 less than
                                                       likelihood of                           forest plans).
                                                       achieving                              Increased
                                                       management                              likelihood of
                                                       objectives in                           achieving
                                                       CPZs but similar                        management
                                                       to Alternative 1                        objectives in
                                                       outside of CPZs.                        CPZs but similar
                                                                                               to Alternative 1
                                                                                               outside of CPZs.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39593]]

 
Timber.........................  Reduction in allowable sale quantity (ASQ) estimates, may occur. However,
                                  foreseeable timber production (volume of timber sold) is well below the ASQ
                                  and is expected to remain so under the alternatives and baseline conditions.
                                  Therefore, timber supplies outside of roadless areas are available to
                                  substitute for decreases in timber availability within roadless. Timber output
                                  is expected to vary only by location (i.e., proportion of cutting occurring
                                  within versus outside of roadless areas). Tree cutting (sale or removal) in
                                  the roadless analysis area is projected to occur in association with
                                  treatments on 2,670, 7,320, 17,380, and 3,140 acres per year respectively
                                  under the 2001 rule, the final rule, forest plans, and Alternative 4
                                  respectively. Average annual treatment acreage on all NFS land is not expected
                                  to be affected substantially by the alternatives.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oil and Gas....................  Projections are for  Projections are     Projections are     Same as
                                  approximately 732    for approximately   for approximately   Alternative 2.
                                  oil and gas wells    732 oil and gas     819 oil and gas
                                  drilled in the       wells drilled in    wells in the
                                  analysis area with   the analysis area   analysis area
                                  access to 1,276      with access to      with access to
                                  bcfg over a 15-      1,276 bcfg over a   1,384 bcfg over a
                                  year period [wells   15-year period      15-year period
                                  produce for 30       [wells produce      [wells produce
                                  yrs] (same for the   for 30 yrs] (same   for 30 yrs],
                                  final rule and       for the 2001 rule   providing
                                  Alternative 4).      and Alternative     slightly more
                                 Projected             4).                 opportunity
                                  development         Projected            compares to the
                                  activities within    development         other
                                  IRAs over 15         activities within   alternatives.
                                  years: 143 miles     CRAs over 15       Projected
                                  of road, 705         years: 146 miles    development
                                  wells, 146 well      of road, 715        activities within
                                  pads.                wells, 162 well     IRAs over 15
                                                       pads.               years: 159 miles
                                                                           of road, 787
                                                                           wells. 160 well
                                                                           pads.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coal (North Fork mining area)..  Projections are for  Projections are     Projections are     Same as the final
                                  16 miles of new      for 52 miles of     for 73 miles of     rule.
                                  roads in the         new roads in the    new roads in the
                                  analysis area, of    analysis area, of   analysis area, of
                                  which 7 are in       which 50 are in     which 64 are in
                                  IRAs.                CRAs.               areas that
                                 Foreseeable          Reduces              overlap IRAs.
                                  production           restrictions on    Least restrictive
                                  opportunities        access to           on access to
                                  would be limited     potential coal      potential coal
                                  to 8,600 acres of    resources in CRAs   resources in IRAs
                                  accessible coal      compared to the     compared to the
                                  reserves (157        2001 rule, but is   other two
                                  million tons).       more restrictive    alternatives.
                                  Approximately        than forest plans  Foreseeable
                                  7,100 acres out of   (limits new roads   production
                                  8,600 acres are      to the North Fork   opportunities are
                                  leased (5,900        coal mining         estimated to be
                                  leased acres are     area).              715 million tons
                                  within IRAs), and   Foreseeable          of reserves on
                                  1,500 acres are      production          36,400 acres of
                                  unleased. A total    opportunities are   accessible
                                  of 2,700 acres out   estimated to be     reserves, of
                                  of 8,600 acres are   19,125 acres of     which 7,100 are
                                  outside of IRAs.     accessible          leased (5,900
                                                       reserves (504       leased acres
                                                       million tons) of    within IRAs) and
                                                       which 7,100 acres   29,300 acres are
                                                       are leased (4,000   unleased. A total
                                                       leased acres are    of 32,400 out of
                                                       within CRAs) and    36,400 acres are
                                                       12,025 acres are    outside of IRAs.
                                                       unleased. A total
                                                       of 15,025 out of
                                                       19,125 acres are
                                                       outside of CRAs.
                                 ...................  Accessible
                                                       reserves are 347
                                                       million tons
                                                       greater than the
                                                       2001 rule and 211
                                                       million tons less
                                                       than forest
                                                       plans.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geothermal.....................  Opportunities for geothermal development in roadless areas would not occur
                                  under the final rule, Alternative 4, or the 2001 rule due to new road
                                  prohibitions. Opportunities for some geothermal development in roadless areas
                                  may occur under forest plans as most land management plans allow new roads in
                                  roadless areas for this purpose. However, there are no current leases on NFS
                                  lands in Colorado.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Public Safety..................  The final rule, Alternative 3, and Alternative 4, as well as baseline
                                  conditions provide adequate flexibility to respond to emergency situations or
                                  major threats to public health and safety in roadless areas (refer to features
                                  common to all alternatives). In contrast, the potential for accidents and
                                  safety hazards increases as the amount of activity and traffic increases, The
                                  Forest Service will continue to respond to wildfires, chemical or oil spills,
                                  abandoned mine hazards, road-design hazards, hazard trees, and other similar
                                  situations. Roads for this purpose must be temporary under the final rule, and
                                  would be expected to be temporary under the 2001 rule and forest plans.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39594]]

 
                                 Road construction    Road construction   Same as the 2001    Same as the final
                                  or reconstruction    permissions are     rule, per agency    rule within both
                                  is allowed in IRAs   similar to the      regulations and     standard and
                                  where needed to:     2001 rule within    policy              upper tier acres.
                                  Address road         both standard       directives.
                                  safety hazards and   tier and upper
                                  imminent threats     tier acres.
                                  of flood, fire,
                                  and other
                                  catastrophic
                                  events that may
                                  threaten loss of
                                  life or property.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Special Uses: Non-recreational   Special use authorizations issued prior to the effective date of rulemaking
 (pipelines, electrical or        would be unaffected under the alternatives and baseline conditions.
 telecommunication lines, water
 conveyances).
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Future special use   Future special use  Future special use  More restrictions
                                  authorizations in    authorizations in   authorizations      than Alternative
                                  IRAs would           CRAs would          would generally     2, due to the
                                  generally prohibit   generally           allow for road      greater
                                  road construction,   prohibit road       construction;       proportion of
                                  but there would be   construction.       except where        upper tier acres.
                                  no prohibition on   Limited exceptions   prohibited under   3.2 miles per year
                                  the use of LCZs.     for the             forest plans.       of LCZs.
                                  3.2 miles per year   construction of    There would be no
                                  of LCZs projected.   LCZ for future      prohibition on
                                                       oil and gas         the construction
                                                       pipelines,          of LCZs, for
                                                       electrical power    future electrical
                                                       lines or            power lines or
                                                       telecommunication   telecommunication
                                                       lines, and water    lines, water
                                                       conveyance          conveyance
                                                       structures in       structures or oil
                                                       CRAs. LCZs for      and gas
                                                       future oil and      pipelines.
                                                       gas pipelines,     3.6 miles per year
                                                       electrical power    of LCZs
                                                       lines and           projected.
                                                       telecommunication
                                                       lines would be
                                                       prohibited in
                                                       upper tier.
                                                      3.2 miles per year
                                                       of LCZs
                                                       projected.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Developed Ski Areas............  Least opportunities  Greater             Same as the final   Same as the final
                                  for ski area         opportunity for     rule, recognizing   rule.
                                  development and      ski area            that Forest plans
                                  expansion.           development and     can be amended or
                                 Road construction     expansion than      revised to expand
                                  and tree cutting     the 2001 rule.      ski area
                                  permitted on 6,600   Opportunities       allocations
                                  acres within IRA     similar to forest   beyond the
                                  boundaries and       plans except        current
                                  also under permit    expansion of ski    allocation.
                                  prior to the         areas into
                                  effective date of    roadless areas
                                  this rule. Roads     through plan
                                  and tree cutting     amendments not
                                  would be             permitted under
                                  prohibited in        the final rule.
                                  1,700 acres of ski  Road construction
                                  areas allocated      and tree cutting
                                  under forest plans   permitted on
                                  but outside of       6,600 acres under
                                  existing permits.    permit as well as
                                                       the additional
                                                       1,700 acres of
                                                       ski areas
                                                       allocated under
                                                       forest plans and
                                                       located outside
                                                       existing permits
                                                       that would not be
                                                       allowed under the
                                                       2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other Developed Recreation.....  Effects on developed recreation opportunities are not projected to differ
                                  substantially across alternatives compared to baseline conditions.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Livestock Management...........  None of the projected activities in roadless areas that vary by alternative
                                  would be likely to have any substantial beneficial or adverse impacts on
                                  livestock management operations in roadless area grazing allotments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Saleable and Locatable Minerals  Impacts and differences in impacts to or from these resources are found to be
                                  minimal or insignificant across alternatives. There are no effects to the
                                  statutory right of reasonable access to prospect, explore and develop
                                  locatable minerals under any alternative or baseline conditions. There will be
                                  no roads for saleable mineral development except under forest plans if road
                                  construction is allowed, although need is expected to be minimal.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39595]]

 
                                    Roadless Area Characteristics and Values
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Scenic Quality.................  Projected activity levels (e.g., tree cutting) occur on relatively small
                                  percentages of total roadless area under the alternatives compared to baseline
                                  conditions.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Maintains the most   Greater             Highest risk to     Similar to the
                                  IRA acreage at       percentages of      scenic integrity,   final rule within
                                  high to very high    roadless areas      as more unroaded    CRAs that are not
                                  scenic integrity     would retain high   acres may shift     upper tier.
                                  levels where it      to very high        to a moderate to    Greater
                                  exists.              scenic integrity    low scenic          assurances about
                                 However, many         compared to the     integrity as a      preserving high
                                  substantially        2001 rule due to    result of           quality scenic
                                  altered IRAs would   removal of          projected road      levels in upper
                                  continue to          substantially       and tree cutting    tier acres,
                                  exhibit low scenic   altered areas       activities.         compared to the
                                  integrity.           under the final    Greater              final rule.
                                                       rule.               opportunities for
                                                      Retains majority     treatments may
                                                       of CRAs at high     contribute more
                                                       or very high        to high quality
                                                       integrity,          scenic levels in
                                                       including CRAs in   the long-term.
                                                       upper tiers; the
                                                       scenic integrity
                                                       of some areas
                                                       would be reduced
                                                       by the roads and
                                                       road-related
                                                       activities
                                                       projected as
                                                       likely to occur
                                                       in CRAs. Lower
                                                       risk to scenic
                                                       integrity
                                                       compared to
                                                       forest plans.
                                                      New unroaded areas
                                                       would add to
                                                       areas protected
                                                       for high scenic
                                                       integrity
                                                       compared to the
                                                       2001 rule.
                                 ...................  More opportunities
                                                       for treatments to
                                                       contribute to
                                                       scenic quality in
                                                       long-run compared
                                                       to the 2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wilderness and Other             No major difference among the alternatives and baseline conditions related to
 Congressionally Designated       the risk of adverse effects on congressionally designated areas. There would
 Areas.                           be no potential direct effect on these areas as they are outside the roadless
                                  areas that are the subject of each alternative.
                                 Effects on areas recommended as wilderness would not differ across alternatives
                                  and baseline conditions as land management plans generally prohibit road
                                  construction and tree cutting and removal activities in those areas.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Indirect effects on wilderness area      Higher risk of      Effects similar to
                                  characteristics or experience from       indirect adverse    the final rule
                                  activities in adjacent roadless areas    effects on          and the 2001
                                  are expected to be low and similar to    wilderness          rule.
                                  the 2001 rule because projected          experience from    Greater
                                  activities are not expected to occur     activities in the   opportunity to
                                  adjacent to wilderness area              analysis area due   establish uniform
                                  boundaries.                              to higher           management
                                 Unlike the 2001 rule, the final rule      likelihood that     approaches for
                                  provides opportunities to establish      activities could    recommended
                                  uniform management approaches for        occur adjacent to   wilderness
                                  recommended wilderness through           wilderness          through placement
                                  placement of roadless areas in upper     boundaries.         of roadless areas
                                  tier.                                                        in upper tier.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Soil...........................  No major difference among alternatives related to the risk of soil impacts. The
                                  2001 rule and Alternative 4 would have the least risk of adverse effects, and
                                  the final rule would have a slightly higher risk than the 2001 rule but lower
                                  than forest plans. However, these differences are expected to be small in
                                  magnitude and spread over a wide geographic area. Most of the potential
                                  effects would be mitigated by site-specific mitigation measures. The risk of
                                  post-fire soil erosion under the final rule may be higher compared to forest
                                  plans and lower relative to the 2001 rule as a result of projected levels of
                                  fuel treatments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Water Quality, Quantity, and     Projected activities under the alternatives and baseline conditions are
 Stream Flow.                     unlikely to contribute to water quality impairment (i.e., exceeding water
                                  quality standards) due to adverse effects being mitigated through the use of
                                  site-specific Watershed Conservation Practices, Best Management Practices, and
                                  other mitigation measures and regulatory (Clean Water Act) permit
                                  requirements, as well as compliance with wetland regulations (E.O. 11990 and
                                  Section 404(b)(1) guidelines. Water quantity effects expected to be minimal as
                                  the area of tree-cutting on any one watershed affected is likely to be small.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39596]]

 
                                 Lowest risk of       Slightly greater    Higher risk of      Similar to the
                                  direct adverse       risk of direct      direct adverse      final rule though
                                  effects from tree    adverse effects     effects from tree   slightly lower
                                  cutting and road     from tree cutting   cutting and road    direct risk due
                                  construction.        and road            construction.       to more upper
                                 Slightly greater      construction       Least restrictions   tier acres.
                                  potential for        compared to the     on fuel            More restrictions
                                  adverse effects      2001 rule, but      treatments and      on fuel
                                  from severe fire     lower compared to   slightly lowest     treatments and
                                  to water supplies.   forest plans.       potential for       slightly greater
                                                      Fewer restrictions   adverse effects     risk to water
                                                       on fuel             from severe fire.   supplies from
                                                       treatments and                          severe fire,
                                                       slightly lower                          compared to the
                                                       potential for                           final rule and
                                                       adverse effects                         forest plans.
                                                       to water supplies
                                                       from fire
                                                       compared to the
                                                       2001 rule, but
                                                       slightly higher
                                                       potential
                                                       compared to
                                                       forest plans.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Air Resources..................  Differences in effects on air quality do not substantially differ between the
                                  alternatives and baseline conditions. Atmospheric emissions within the
                                  analysis area are not expected to increase to a level that would be likely to
                                  exceed State or Federal air quality standards. Potential for smoke related
                                  impacts under the final rule would be only slightly lower than the 2001 rule
                                  and slightly greater than forest plans.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Threatened Endangered or         No direct adverse impacts to threatened or endangered plants because no road
 Sensitive Plants.                construction or tree cutting, sale or removal is projected to occur where
                                  threatened or endangered plants exist. Site specific design criteria and
                                  mitigation measures are expected to minimize risk. Individual sensitive plants
                                  may be affected by projected activities, however, none of the alternatives or
                                  baseline conditions are expected to result in the loss of viability, nor cause
                                  a trend toward Federal listing of sensitive species.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Least risk of        More potential      Greatest risk of    More risk of
                                  adverse impacts to   risk of adverse     adverse impacts     adverse impacts
                                  sensitive plants,    impacts to          to sensitive        to sensitive
                                  including threats    sensitive plants,   plants, including   plants compared
                                  from invasives.      including threats   threats from        to the 2001 rule,
                                                       from invasives,     invasives.          including threats
                                                       compared to the                         from invasives;
                                                       2001 rule but                           but less risk
                                                       less risk than                          than the final
                                                       forest plans.                           rule or forest
                                                                                               plans.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aquatic Species and Habitat      No measurable declines are expected on threatened and endangered (T&E) species,
 (also includes Threatened        sensitive species, and MIS population trends; downstream T&E species; or
 Endangered or Sensitive).        wetlands and riparian areas under the alternatives or baseline conditions due
                                  to the assumption that mitigation measures and best management practices would
                                  help avoid or minimize impacts from the projected activities.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Greatest level of    Some limited        Least amount of     Greatest level of
                                  protection and       potential for       protection and      protection and
                                  least risk of        reduced             greatest            least risk for
                                  adverse impacts.     protection and      potential for       adverse impacts.
                                  Provides most        increased risk of   adverse impacts.    Provides most
                                  protection of        adverse impacts                         protection of
                                  cutthroat trout      compared to the                         cutthroat trout
                                  (similar to          2001 rule and                           (similar to the
                                  Alternative 4).      Alternative 4                           final rule).
                                                       (but less risk
                                                       than forest
                                                       plans).
                                                      Provides greater
                                                       protection for
                                                       cutthroat trout
                                                       compared to
                                                       forest plans.
                                                     ----------------------------------------
                                 ...................  Increasing amounts of fuel reduction
                                                       and forest health treatments under
                                                       the final rule and forest plans could
                                                       have long-term beneficial effects on
                                                       aquatic habitat and species, compared
                                                       to the 2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Terrestrial Species and Habitat  For the final rule, Alternative 3, Alternative 4, and baseline conditions, site-
 (also includes Threatened,       specific design criteria and mitigation measures are expected to avoid or
 Endangered or Sensitive).        minimize adverse effects from projected tree-cutting and road construction;
                                  projected activities are not likely to adversely affect federally listed
                                  species or designated critical habitat, nor result in the loss of viability or
                                  cause a trend toward Federal listing for sensitive species. Given the large
                                  acreage afforded roadless protection under the final rule, Alternative 4, and
                                  the 2001 rule, any changes in population trends for MIS would likely be an
                                  increase above current Forest Plan projections.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39597]]

 
                                 Least risk to        Increased risk to   Greatest risk to    Reduced risk to
                                  terrestrial          terrestrial         terrestrial         terrestrial
                                  species and          species and         species and         species and
                                  habitat from         habitat from        habitat from        habitat from
                                  projected tree-      projected tree-     projected tree-     projected
                                  cutting and road     cutting and road    cutting and road    activities,
                                  construction.        construction        construction.       compared to the
                                                       compared to the    Greatest             2001 rule and the
                                                       2001 rule and       opportunity for     final rule.
                                                       Alternative 4       tree-cutting (in   Reduced
                                                       (though effects     combination with    opportunity for
                                                       are expected to     prescribed fire)    tree-cutting to
                                                       be minimal and      to improve          improve habitat
                                                       short-lived).       habitat and         and reduce
                                                      More opportunities   reduce adverse      adverse effects
                                                       for tree-cutting    effects from        from severe
                                                       (when combined      severe wildfire.    wildfire compared
                                                       with prescribed                         to forest plans
                                                       fire) to improve                        and the final
                                                       habitat and                             rule.
                                                       reduce potential                       Updated inventory
                                                       for adverse                             of roadless areas
                                                       effects from                            provides higher
                                                       severe wildfire                         quality portfolio
                                                       compared to the                         of wildlife
                                                       2001 rule, but                          habitat within
                                                       fewer                                   roadless areas
                                                       opportunities                           compared to the
                                                       compared to                             2001 rule.
                                                       forest plans.
                                                      Updated inventory
                                                       of roadless areas
                                                       provides higher
                                                       quality portfolio
                                                       of wildlife
                                                       habitat within
                                                       roadless areas
                                                       compared to the
                                                       2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Diversity of Plant and Animal    The value of roadless areas in conserving plant and animal diversity is likely
 Communities.                     to increase as habitat loss and habitat degradation increase in scope and
                                  magnitude in lands outside of roadless areas. Opportunities for protected
                                  large contiguous blocks of secure habitat, biological strongholds, and habitat
                                  connectivity would be greatest for the 2001 rule and lowest under forest
                                  plans. Increasing opportunities for treatments under Alternative 4, the final
                                  rule, and forest plans respectively to address hazardous fuels and ecosystem
                                  restoration may have beneficial effects on long-term diversity compared to the
                                  2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Invasive Plants................  Site-specific design criteria and mitigation measures are expected to minimize
                                  risk. The magnitude and extent of spread of invasives in roadless areas would
                                  be relatively small under the alternatives and baseline conditions.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Lowest risk of       Intermediate risk   Substantially       Slightly higher
                                  spread due to low    of spread, higher   greater risk of     risk of spread
                                  projections of       than the 2001       spread due to the   than the 2001
                                  road construction    rule and            greatest            rule but less
                                  or tree cutting.     Alternative 4,      projections for     than the final
                                                       but less than       road                rule and forest
                                                       forest plans, due   construction,       plans due to
                                                       to greater          tree cutting,       lower projections
                                                       projections of      fuels management,   of road
                                                       road construction   and future oil,     construction and
                                                       or tree cutting.    gas, and coal       tree cutting.
                                                                           activities
                                                                           compared to other
                                                                           alternatives.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recreation--Primitive and Semi-  Tree cutting activity is projected to occur on only a small percentage of
 Primitive Recreation Settings    roadless areas over 15 years under the alternatives and baseline conditions.
 and Opportunities.               Dispersed recreation opportunities (including hunting and fishing) are
                                  therefore not expected to change under the final rule and Alternative 4, but
                                  feelings of remoteness and solitude may change for periods of time in areas
                                  where activity occurs compared to the 2001 rule.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39598]]

 
                                 Likely to retain a   Likely to retain a  Greatest risk of    Likely to retain
                                  high proportion of   high proportion     shifts from         greatest greater
                                  IRA acreage in a     of CRA acreage in   primitive/semi-     proportion of CRA
                                  primitive or semi-   a primitive or      primitive           acreage in
                                  primitive setting.   semi-primitive      settings to         primitive/semi-
                                 The substantially     setting; although   roaded natural      primitive setting
                                  altered areas and    some CRA acres      settings in areas   compared to the
                                  developed ski        would shift         where the most      final rule given
                                  areas in IRAs may    toward roaded       tree cutting,       slight reductions
                                  continue to appear   natural settings    roads, or energy    in construction
                                  inconsistent with    in areas where      operations are      and tree cutting
                                  semi-primitive       the most roads,     projected to        activity and
                                  characteristics      tree-cutting, and   occur.              larger percent of
                                  expected in          energy operations  .                    CRAs in upper
                                  roadless areas.      are projected in                        tier.
                                 The newly             CRAs.                                  By not including
                                  identified          By not including                         substantially
                                  roadless acres       substantially                           altered areas and
                                  (409,500 acres)      altered areas and                       developed ski
                                  where road           developed ski                           areas in CRAs and
                                  construction and     areas in CRAs and                       adding unroaded
                                  tree cutting are     adding newly                            areas to CRAs,
                                  projected to occur   identified                              the CRAs would
                                  but are not within   roadless areas to                       appear more
                                  the IRAs could       CRAs, the CRAs                          consistent with
                                  shift to less        would appear more                       semi-primitive
                                  primitive            consistent with                         characteristics
                                  settings.            semi-primitive                          expected in
                                                       characteristics                         roadless areas
                                                       expected in                             compared to less
                                                       roadless areas,                         consistency
                                                       compared to less                        within IRAs under
                                                       consistency                             the 2001 rule.
                                                       within IRAs under
                                                       the 2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outfitters and Guides            Out of 1,390 recreational special use permits authorized on NFS lands in
 (recreation).                    Colorado, 1,066 are associated with outfitters and guides, some of which are
                                  likely to operate in roadless areas. The final rule, Alternative 4, and
                                  baseline conditions are expected to have negligible adverse effects on
                                  recreational special uses, including outfitter and guide opportunities, based
                                  on the projected magnitude and distribution of reasonably foreseeable
                                  activities. Limitations on road construction and tree cutting under any
                                  alternative would not be likely to affect ability to obtain or use a
                                  recreation use authorization.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cultural and Heritage Resources  Site-specific inventories, design criteria, and mitigation measures are
                                  expected to minimize risk. Under the final rule, Alternative 3, Alternative 4,
                                  and baseline conditions, there may be small, localized impacts from a number
                                  of ongoing activities. The magnitude of human activities in roadless areas
                                  would continue to be much lower than on other NFS lands.
                                --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 Least risk of        Intermediate risk   Highest risk of     Same as the final
                                  damage to cultural   of damage to        damage to           rule.
                                  and heritage         cultural and        cultural and
                                  resources due to     heritage            heritage
                                  lowest projected     resources because   resources because
                                  amounts of tree-     of higher           of highest
                                  cutting and road     projected tree      projected amounts
                                  construction.        cutting and road    of tree cutting
                                                       construction,       and road
                                                       compared to the     construction.
                                                       2001 rule, but
                                                       lower risk than
                                                       forest plans.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geological and Paleontological   None of the projected activities in roadless areas that vary across
 Resources.                       alternatives and baseline conditions would be likely to adversely affect
                                  geological or paleontological resources, which would be avoided or otherwise
                                  protected from potential adverse impacts. Management of these resources does
                                  not require road construction or tree cutting and would be the same under the
                                  alternatives and baseline conditions.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Climate Change.................  Future emission of GHGs associated with projected activities under the
                                  alternatives and baseline conditions are too speculative for estimation.
                                  Potential releases of greenhouse gases due to the net effect of energy
                                  development and changes in wildfire conditions might be highest for forest
                                  plans and lowest for the 2001 rule, with the final rule being less than forest
                                  plans but more than the 2001 rule. Strategy options for adapting to climate
                                  change are more restrictive under the 2001 rule and Alternative 4, more
                                  flexible under the final rule, and most flexible under forest plans.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39599]]

 
                                                  Agency Costs
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vegetation and Fuel Treatments.  Treatments are       Decreased           Capacity to shift   Management
                                  likely to be less    flexibility to      the greatest        flexibility is
                                  efficient and more   achieve             amount of           similar to the
                                  costly in IRAs.      management          treatment acreage   final rule, but
                                                       objectives in       into roadless       projected
                                                       critical insect     areas; increased    treatment amounts
                                                       and disease areas   efficiency, cost    are lower due to
                                                       compared to         effectiveness and   constraints
                                                       forest plans (but   timeliness of       imposed by more
                                                       increased           wildfire            upper tier
                                                       flexibility         suppression         acreage under
                                                       compared to the     response as well    Alternative 4.
                                                       2001 rule).         as fuel
                                                       Decreased ability   reductions in
                                                       to strategically    CPZs compared to
                                                       and cost            the final rule
                                                       effectively         and Alternative
                                                       locate treatments   4.
                                                       and improve
                                                       efficiency as
                                                       compared to
                                                       forest plans but
                                                       increased
                                                       treatment cost
                                                       effectiveness
                                                       compared to the
                                                       2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other Costs....................  Administrative costs are estimated to not change. Emphasis on road
                                  decommissioning and temporary roads is expected to ease demands on maintenance
                                  backlog. Overall need to address invasive plants is expected to remain
                                  relatively constant across alternatives and baseline conditions. Although new
                                  roads can contribute to the spread of invasive plants, roads can also be an
                                  asset in helping to cost effectively control invasive populations.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


       Table 4--Summary of Distributional Effects and Economic Impacts of the Final Rule and Alternatives
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                Alternative 4--
                                   Alternative 1--      Alternative 2--     Alternative 3--   Proposed rule with
                                  2001 Roadless Rule      Final rule         Forest plans      public identified
                                     (no action)                                               upper tier acres
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leaseable Minerals: Coal, Oil    $694 million/yr      $760 million/yr     $793 million/yr     Same as the final
 and Gas--Output Value, Jobs      Output.              Output              Output.             rule.
 and Income (2009$) Contributed  2,100 Jobs           * $33 million/yr    2,400 Jobs
 1.                               supported.           less than forest    supported.
                                 $147 million per      plans.             $169 million per
                                  year Labor Income.  * $66 million/yr     year Labor
                                                       greater than the    Income.
                                                       2001 rule.
                                                      2,300 Jobs
                                                       supported
                                 ...................     * 100 fewer
                                                          jobs than
                                                          forest plans.
                                 ...................     * 200 more jobs
                                                          than the 2001
                                                          rule.
                                 ...................  $164 million/year
                                                       Labor Income
                                 ...................     * $5 million/yr
                                                          less than
                                                          forest plans.
                                 ...................     * $17 million/
                                                          yr more than
                                                          the 2001 rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Revenue Sharing: Mineral Lease   State Total: $28.8   State Total: $31.2  State Total: $32.6  Same as the final
 Payments and Tax Revenues per    million              million             million             rule.
 year (2009$) 2.                 Energy-Affected      * $1.4 million      Energy-Affected
                                  Counties: $5.9       less than forest    Counties: $6.6
                                  million.             plans.              million.
                                 All other CO         * $2.4 million      All other CO
                                  Counties: $2.9       more than the       Counties: $3.3
                                  million.             2001 rule.          million.
                                                      Energy-Affected
                                                       Counties: $6.2
                                                       million
                                 ...................     * $0.4 million
                                                          less than
                                                          forest plans.
                                 ...................     * $0.3 more
                                                          than the 2001
                                                          rule.
                                 ...................  All other CO
                                                       Counties: $3.2
                                                       million
                                 ...................     * $0.1 million
                                                          less than
                                                          forest plans.
                                 ...................     * $0.3 more
                                                          than the 2001
                                                          rule.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 39600]]

 
Values at risk: Number of        In comparison to     In comparison to    In comparison to    In comparison to
 Counties Where Potential for     forest plans:        forest plans:       2001 rule:          forest plans:
 Fuel Treatments in CPZs may     Decrease: 13         Decrease: 2         Decrease: 0         Decrease: 16
 Increase or Decrease Compared    counties             counties.           counties.           counties.
 to Alternative 3 and Baseline   Increase: 0 county.  Increase: 2         Increase: 13        Increase: 2
 Conditions 3.                                         counties.           counties.           counties.
                                                      In comparison to                        In comparison to
                                                       the 2001 rule:                          2001 rule:
                                                      Decrease: 1                             Decrease: 6
                                                       county.                                 counties.
                                                      Increase: 13                            Increase: 13
                                                       counties.                               counties.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 Jobs and income contributed annually (2009 dollars) based on projected levels of coal, oil, and gas production
  and regional economic modeling multipliers derived from an IMPLAN model representing the five counties where
  employment effects are assumed to occur (Delta, Garfield, Mesa, Montrose, and Rio Blanco).
2 Payments consist of property tax receipts from coal, oil, and gas production; State distribution of severance
  taxes and Federal royalties. Energy-affected counties are Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa, and Pitkin
  counties. Changes in payments associated with the Secure Rural Schools and Self Determination Act and Payments
  in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) are not expected to change significantly.
3 CPZs = community protection zones (0.5 to 1.5 mile buffer area surrounding communities that have been
  identified as being at-risk to wildfire. ``Potential for fuel treatments'' implies that at least one CPZ area
  in a county overlaps with an IRA or CRA where tree cutting has at least a low likelihood of occurring,
  according to national forest unit field staff.

Proper Consideration of Small Entities

    The final rule has also been considered in light of Executive Order 
13272 (E.O. 13272) regarding proper consideration of small entities and 
the SBREFA, which amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 
et. seq.). The Forest Service has determined that this action will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities as defined by the E.O. 13272 and SBREFA, because the final 
rule does not directly subject small entities to regulatory 
requirements. Therefore, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is 
not required for this final rule. However, given public interest in the 
final rule's potential effects on small entities, including rural 
counties and economies, and efforts to be consistent with related rule-
making analysis in the past, the indirect effects or reasonably 
foreseeable losses in potential small entity opportunities resulting 
from the final rule are analyzed.
    For small businesses affiliated with most industry sectors involved 
with activities in roadless areas (e.g., coal, oil and gas), there are 
minimal differences between the final rule and baseline or no-action 
condition (2001 Roadless Rule). As a result, there is little or no 
potential for significant adverse economic impacts to small businesses 
under the final rule relative to baseline conditions.
    There are about 1,390 recreation special use permits currently 
authorized within National Forest System lands in Colorado of which a 
large majority are small businesses, and 1,066 (77%) are associated 
with outfitter and guide permits, some of which are likely to operate 
within roadless areas. However, there is no difference between 
alternatives with respect to recreation special use authorizations in 
roadless areas, because limitations on road construction and tree 
cutting under any alternative would not be likely to affect ability to 
obtain or use recreation use authorizations. Impacts under the final 
rule compared to the baseline condition are not expected to be 
significant due to the small percentage of acreage affected and roads 
constructed per year spread across more than 4 million acres of CRAs. 
It is also noted that a significant percentage of road construction and 
tree cutting activity will occur within or near the CPZs where 
primitive or semi-primitive settings may already be affected. Timber 
sales and harvest levels for Colorado national forests as a whole are 
projected to be similar during the 15-year analysis period across the 
alternatives.
    Flat and declining budgets imply the percentage of harvest from 
roadless areas may change under the alternatives, but aggregate volumes 
across all NFS land in Colorado are expected to remain relatively 
unchanged, on average based on budget, implying little potential for 
adverse impacts to small entities.
    For leasable minerals associated with energy resources (coal, oil 
and gas), changes in output are projected across alternatives. More 
than 95 percent of the firms associated with these sectors can be 
classified as ``small''; as defined by Small Business Administration 
standards. Any changes in oil and gas, or coal development or 
production can, therefore, have an effect on small business 
opportunities in these sectors. A five-county region has been defined 
to model the economic impacts associated with energy resources (Delta, 
Garfield, Mesa, Montrose, and Rio Blanco counties). A total of 355 
firms associated with oil and gas, and coal development and extraction 
are estimated to be located within this region, of which 95% are likely 
to be small (337 firms). However, energy resource sector jobs (i.e. 
jobs associated with oil, gas and coal development) within this five-
county area, supported annually by projected activity within roadless 
areas, are estimated to increase from 2,100 under the 2001 Roadless 
Rule alternative to 2,300 jobs under the final rule (as well as 
Alternative 4). Estimated jobs supported decrease from 2,400 under 
Alternative 3 to 2,300 under the final rule. Labor income for oil, gas 
and coal sectors increases by a similar degree from $147 million per 
year under the 2001 rule to $164 million under the final rule; 
estimated labor income decreases from $169 million under forest plans 
to $164 million under the final rule. Estimated job and labor income 
contributions for oil, gas and coal sectors are equivalent for the 
final rule and Alternative 4. These results indicate that the final 
rule will not have significant adverse impacts to small entities 
associated with energy resource development and extraction relative to 
Alternative 1.
    For all other economic sectors considered, changes in resource 
outputs are not projected to be significant to the extent that adverse 
impacts to small entities could occur in aggregate or within regions.
    Among 64 counties in the state of Colorado, 36 counties (56%) are 
considered to be small governments (population less than 50,000). These 
36 counties are considered to be small rural counties having NFS lands 
within

[[Page 39601]]

roadless areas. Six counties are energy (coal, oil and gas) producing 
counties. These six counties (Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa, 
Montrose, and Pitkin) are expected to be the counties most likely to 
benefit from mineral lease payments and revenue sharing under the final 
rule (as well as Alternative 4), and Alternative 3. Changes in mineral 
lease payments would be minimal in Montrose County. All of these 
counties, with the exception of Mesa can be considered small 
governments (population less than 50,000). The small population 
counties within the energy impact area (i.e., Delta, Garfield, 
Gunnison, and Pitkin), are forecasted to receive increases in aggregate 
payments associated with property tax receipts, severance tax 
distributions, and federal royalty distributions from coal, and oil and 
gas production, under the final rule relative to the 2001 Roadless 
Rule. There are slight decreases in aggregate payments to the small 
population counties under the final rule relative to Alternative 3 
(aggregate payments decrease from $4.9 million to $4.7 million per 
year).
    Under the final rule, as compared to forest plans, the potential 
opportunities for fuel treatments near at-risk communities (i.e., 
within CPZs) may increase for two ``small population'' counties and 
decrease for one ``small population county '' (i.e., populations less 
than 50,000). In contrast, potential opportunities for fuel treatments 
near at-risk communities may increase for ten ``small population'' 
counties and decrease for one county under the final rule compared to 
2001 Roadless Rule. These results indicate that adverse impacts to 
small governments, regarding protection of values at risk from 
wildfire, are not likely, when comparing the final rule with 2001 
Roadless Rule.
    Therefore, for small governments, including counties with small 
populations and at-risk communities from wildfire within those 
counties, opportunities for revenue sharing, as well as protection of 
values-at-risk are not expected to significantly decrease under the 
final rule relative to baseline conditions. Mitigation measures 
associated with existing programs and laws regarding revenue sharing 
with counties and small business shares or set-asides will continue to 
apply.

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

    This rule does not call for any additional recordkeeping or 
reporting requirements or other information collection requirements as 
defined in 5 CFR part 1320 that are not already required by law or not 
already approved for use and, therefore, imposes no additional 
paperwork burden on the public. Accordingly, the review provisions of 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and its 
implementing regulations at 5 CFR part 1320 do not apply.

Federalism

    The Department has considered this final rule under the 
requirements of Executive Order 13132 issued August 4, 1999 (E.O. 
13132), Federalism. The Department has made an assessment that the 
final rule conforms with the Federalism principles set out in E.O. 
13132; would not impose any compliance costs on the State; and would 
not have substantial direct effects on the State, on the relationship 
between the national government and the State, nor on the distribution 
of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. 
Therefore, the Department concludes that this rule does not have 
Federalism implications. This rule is based on a petition submitted by 
the State of Colorado under the Administrative Procedure Act at 5 
U.S.C. 553(e) and pursuant to Department of Agriculture regulations at 
7 CFR 1.28. The State's petition was developed through a task force 
with the involvement of local governments. The State is a cooperating 
agency pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.6 of the Council on Environmental 
Quality regulations for the development of the supporting environmental 
impact statement. State and local governments were encouraged to 
comment on the final rule, in the course of this rulemaking process.

No Takings Implications

    The final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in Executive Order 12630 issued March 15, 1988. 
It has been determined that the rule does not pose the risk of a taking 
of private property.

Civil Justice Reform

    The final rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. After adoption of this rule, (1) all State and local 
laws and regulations that conflict with this rule or that would impede 
full implementation of this rule will be preempted; (2) no retroactive 
effect would be given to this rule; and (3) this rule would not require 
the use of administrative proceedings before parties could file suit in 
court challenging its provisions.

Unfunded Mandates

    Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 
U.S.C. 1531-1538), the Department has assessed the effects of this 
final rule on State, local, and tribal governments and the private 
sector. This rule does not compel the expenditure of $100 million or 
more by State, local, or tribal governments or anyone in the private 
sector. Therefore, a statement under section 202 of the Act is not 
required.

Energy Effects

    Based on guidance for implementing Executive Order 13211 (E.O. 
13211) of May 18, 2001, Actions Concerning Regulations That 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution or Use, issued by 
Office of Management and Budget (Memorandum for Heads of Executive 
Departments and Agencies, and Independent Regulatory Agencies (M-01-
27), July 13, 2001), this final rule does not constitute a 
``significant energy action'' as defined in E.O. 13211 because 
projected changes in oil, gas, and coal production under the final rule 
are not sufficient to cause exceedance of criteria for significance.
    Projections of natural gas production are discussed in the FEIS and 
the ``Minerals and Energy: Analysis of Alternatives--Oil and Gas'' and 
``Distributional Effects: Economic Impacts'' sections within this 
report. Based on those projections, it has been determined that natural 
gas production from the combined roadless analysis area varies across 
alternatives for only two National Forests (Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, 
Gunnison National Forests and White River National Forest). For the San 
Juan National Forest, production occurs within roadless areas but does 
not vary across alternatives for that National Forest. It has also been 
determined that there is no appreciable difference in projected natural 
gas production between Alternatives 1 and 2 or Alternative 4. The 
difference in potential average annual natural gas production between 
Alternatives 1, 2, or 4 (35 billion cubic feet per year) and 
Alternative 3 for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison and White River 
National Forests (39 billion cubic feet per year) is a decrease of 
about 4 bcf/year, or 4 million mcf/year, which is well below the E.O. 
13211 criterion for adverse effects of 25 million mcf/year.
    Projected oil production ranges from approximately 50,000 barrels 
under 2001 Roadless Rule, final rule, and Alternative 4 to 
approximately 110,000 barrels under Alternative 3 over a period of 15 
to 30 years. The corresponding reduction in oil production per day 
under the 2001 Roadless Rule, final rule, or Alternative 3 is 
inconsequential compared to the

[[Page 39602]]

E.O. 13211 criterion of 10,000 barrels per day.
    Natural gas pipeline mileage across roadless areas is projected to 
be similar for the final rule, Alternative 4, and the 2001 Roadless 
Rule, implying that gas distribution costs are also projected to be 
similar across these alternatives (i.e., distribution costs will not 
increase under the final rule compared to the 2001 Roadless Rule). 
Average annual coal production is projected to be greater under the 
final rule (and Alternative 4) compared to the 2001 Roadless Rule, 
implying that economic impacts associated with coal are positive under 
the final rule, compared to the 2001 Roadless Rule. The final rule will 
increase access to an estimated 347 million tons of coal reserves over 
the 2001 Roadless Rule (the baseline condition) and could extend coal 
mining activity in the North Fork Valley by as much as 34 years. It 
should be noted that one of the existing mining companies in the North 
Fork Valley has announced plans to shift its operations to BLM and 
private lands once currently leased reserves under NFS lands have been 
recovered. This shift would occur regardless of roadless area 
alternatives considered.
    Approximately 53% of all coal produced from Colorado in 2010 (25.2 
million tons) was exported to other States, suggesting that regional 
markets and prices are likely to be heavily influenced by national 
prices, supplies, and market trends.
    The impacts of a number of other factors affecting energy markets 
and national market trends may outweigh the effects of implementing 
2001 Roadless Rule.
    No novel legal or policy issues regarding adverse effects to 
supply, distribution or use of energy are anticipated beyond what has 
already been addressed in the FEIS, or the Regulatory Impact Analysis 
(RIA). None of the proposed corridors designated for oil, gas, and/or 
electricity under Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 are 
within CRAs.
    The final rule does not restrict access to privately held mineral 
rights, or mineral rights held through existing claims or leases, and 
allows for disposal of mineral materials. The final rule does not 
prohibit future mineral claims or mineral leasing in areas otherwise 
open for such. The rule also provides a regulatory mechanism for 
consideration of requests for modification of restrictions if 
adjustments are determined to be necessary in the future. Based on the 
evidence above, criteria for ``significance'' under E.O. 13211 are not 
exceeded for the final rule. The final rule is therefore not considered 
a significant energy action.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 294

    National forests, Recreation areas, Navigation (air), State 
petitions for inventoried roadless area management.

    Therefore, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Forest 
Service is amending part 294 of Title 36 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations by adding subpart D to read as follows:

PART 294--SPECIAL AREAS

Subpart D--Colorado Roadless Area Management
Sec.
294.40 Purpose.
294.41 Definitions.
294.42 Prohibitions on tree cutting, sale, or removal.
294.43 Prohibition on road construction and reconstruction.
294.44 Prohibition on linear construction zones.
294.45 Environmental documentation.
294.46 Other activities.
294.47 Modifications and administrative corrections.
294.48 Scope and applicability.
294.49 List of designated Colorado Roadless Areas.


    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 472, 529, 551, 1608, 1613; 23 U.S.C. 201, 
205.

Subpart D--Colorado Roadless Area Management


Sec.  294.40  Purpose.

    The purpose of this subpart is to provide, within the context of 
multiple use management, State-specific direction for the protection of 
roadless areas on National Forest System lands in Colorado. The intent 
of this regulation is to protect roadless values by restricting tree 
cutting, sale, and removal; road construction and reconstruction; and 
linear construction zones within Colorado Roadless Areas (CRAs), with 
narrowly focused exceptions. Activities must be designed to conserve 
the roadless area characteristics listed in Sec.  294.41, although 
applying the exceptions in Sec.  294.42, Sec.  294.43, and Sec.  294.44 
may have effects to some roadless area characteristics.


Sec.  294.41  Definitions.

    The following terms and definitions apply to this subpart.
    At-Risk Community: As defined under section 101 of the Healthy 
Forests Restoration Act (HFRA).
    Catchment: A watershed delineation beginning at the downstream 
point of occupation of native cutthroat trout and encompassing the 
upstream boundary of waters draining in the stream system.
    Colorado Roadless Areas: Areas designated pursuant to this subpart 
and identified in a set of maps maintained at the national headquarters 
office of the Forest Service. Colorado Roadless Areas established by 
this subpart shall constitute the exclusive set of National Forest 
System lands within the State of Colorado to which the provisions 36 
CFR 220.5(a)(2) shall apply.
    Colorado Roadless Areas Upper Tier Acres: A subset of Colorado 
Roadless Areas identified in a set of maps maintained at the national 
headquarters office of the Forest Service which have limited exceptions 
to provide a high-level of protection for these areas.
    Community Protection Zone: An area extending one-half mile from the 
boundary of an at-risk community; or an area within one and a half 
miles from the boundary of an at-risk community, where any land:
    (1) Has a sustained steep slope that creates the potential for 
wildfire behavior endangering the at-risk community;
    (2) Has a geographic feature that aids in creating an effective 
fire break, such as a road or a ridge top; or
    (3) Is in condition class 3 as defined by HFRA.
    Community Wildfire Protection Plan: As defined under section 101 of 
the HFRA, and used in this subpart, the term ``community wildfire 
protection plan'' means a plan for an at-risk community that:
    (1) Is developed within the context of the collaborative agreements 
and the guidance established by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council 
and agreed to by the applicable local government, local fire 
department, and State agency responsible for forest management, in 
consultation with interested parties and the Federal land management 
agencies managing land in the vicinity of the at-risk community;
    (2) Identifies and prioritizes areas for hazardous fuel reduction 
treatments and recommends the types and methods of treatment on Federal 
and non-Federal land that will protect one or more at-risk communities 
and essential infrastructure; and
    (3) Recommends measures to reduce structural ignitability 
throughout the at-risk community.
    Condition Class 3: As defined under section 101 of the HFRA the 
term ``condition class 3'' means an area of Federal land, under which:
    (1) Fire regimes on land have been significantly altered from 
historical ranges;
    (2) There exists a high risk of losing key ecosystem components 
from fire;

[[Page 39603]]

    (3) Fire frequencies have departed from historical frequencies by 
multiple return intervals, resulting in dramatic changes to:
    (i) The size, frequency, intensity, or severity of fires; or
    (ii) Landscape patterns; and
    (4) Vegetation attributes have been significantly altered from the 
historical range of the attributes.
    Fire Hazard: A fuel complex defined by volume, type, condition, 
arrangement and location that determines the ease of ignition and the 
resistance to control; expresses the potential fire behavior for a fuel 
type, regardless of the fuel type's weather influenced fuel moisture 
condition.
    Fire Occurrence: One fire event occurring in a specific place 
within a specific period of time; a general term describing past or 
current wildland fire events.
    Fire Risk: The probability or chance that a fire might start, as 
affected by the presence and activities of causative agents.
    Forest Road: As defined at 36 CFR 212.1, the term means a road 
wholly or partly within or adjacent to and serving the National Forest 
System that the Forest Service determines is necessary for the 
protection, administration, and utilization of the National Forest 
System and the use and development of its resources.
    Hazardous Fuels: Excessive live or dead wildland fuel accumulations 
that increase the potential for intense wildland fire and decrease the 
capability to protect life, property and natural resources.
    Linear Construction Zone: A temporary linear area of surface 
disturbance over 50-inches wide that is used for construction equipment 
to install or maintain a linear facility. The sole purpose of the 
linear disturbance is to accommodate equipment needed to construct and 
transport supplies and personnel needed to install or maintain the 
linear facility. It is not a road, not used as a motor vehicle route, 
not open for public use, and is not engineered to road specifications.
    Linear Facility: Linear facilities include pipelines, electrical 
power lines, telecommunications lines, ditches, canals, and dams.
    Municipal Water Supply System: As defined under Section 101 of the 
HFRA, and used in this subpart, the term means the reservoirs, canals, 
ditches, flumes, laterals, pipes, pipelines, and other surface 
facilities and systems constructed or installed for the collection, 
impoundment, storage, transportation, or distribution of drinking 
water.
    Native Cutthroat Trout: Collectively, all the native subspecies of 
cutthroat trout historically occurring in Colorado before European 
settlement which includes yellowfin, Rio Grande, Greenback, and 
Colorado River Trout.
    Permanent Road: Roads that are either a forest road; private road 
(a road under private ownership authorized by an easement granted to a 
private party or a road that provides access pursuant to a reserved or 
outstanding right); or public road (a road under the jurisdiction of 
and maintained by a public road authority and open to public travel).
    Pre-Existing Water Court Decree: An adjudicated conditional or 
absolute decree issued by a Colorado Court, the initial application for 
which was filed prior to July 3, 2012, adjudicating as the point of a 
diversion or the place of use a location within a Colorado Roadless 
Area. A pre-existing water court decree does not include decrees for 
water rights with a point of diversion and place of use outside of a 
Colorado Roadless Area, the holder of which proposes to change the 
point of diversion or place of use to within a Colorado Roadless Area, 
except for a change in location of a head gate and associated ditch 
pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 2011 Sec.  37-86-111.
    Responsible Official: The Forest Service line officer with the 
authority and responsibility to make decisions about protection and 
management of Colorado Roadless Areas pursuant to this subpart.
    Road: As defined at 36 CFR 212.1, the term means a motor vehicle 
route over 50 inches wide, unless identified and managed as a trail.
    Roadless Area Characteristics: Resources or features that are often 
present in and characterize Colorado Roadless Areas, including:
    (1) High quality or undisturbed soil, water, and air;
    (2) Sources of public drinking water;
    (3) Diversity of plant and animal communities;
    (4) Habitat for threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate, and 
sensitive species, and for those species dependent on large, 
undisturbed areas of land;
    (5) Primitive, semi-primitive non-motorized and semi-primitive 
motorized classes of dispersed recreation;
    (6) Reference landscapes;
    (7) Natural-appearing landscapes with high scenic quality;
    (8) Traditional cultural properties and sacred sites; and
    (9) Other locally identified unique characteristics.
    Temporary Road: As defined at 36 CFR 212.1, the term means a road 
necessary for emergency operations or authorized by contract, permit, 
lease, or other written authorization that is not a forest road and 
that is not included in a forest transportation atlas.
    Water Conveyance Structures: Facilities associated with the 
transmission, storage, impoundment, and diversion of water on and 
across National Forest System lands. Water conveyance structures 
include, but are not limited to: Reservoirs and dams, diversion 
structures, headgates, pipelines, ditches, canals, and tunnels.
    Water Influence Zone: The land next to water bodies where 
vegetation plays a major role in sustaining long-term integrity of 
aquatic systems. It includes the geomorphic floodplain (valley bottom), 
riparian ecosystem, and inner gorge. Its minimum horizontal width (from 
top of each bank) is 100 feet or the mean height of mature dominant 
late-seral vegetation, whichever is greater.
    Watershed Conservation Practice: The watershed conservation 
practices are stewardship actions based upon scientific principles and 
legal requirements to protect soil, aquatic and riparian resources. 
Each watershed conservation practice consists of a management measure, 
a set of design criteria used to achieve the management measure, and 
guidance for monitoring and restoration. For specific information, 
refer to Forest Service Manual 2509.25.


Sec.  294.42  Prohibition on tree cutting, sale, or removal.

    (a) General. Trees may not be cut, sold, or removed in Colorado 
Roadless Areas, except as provided in paragraph (b) and (c) of this 
section.
    (b) Upper Tier Acres. Notwithstanding the prohibition in paragraph 
(a) of this section, trees may be cut, sold, or removed in Colorado 
Roadless Areas upper tier acres if the responsible official determines 
the activity is consistent with the applicable land management plan, 
and:
    (1) Tree cutting, sale, or removal is incidental to the 
implementation of a management activity not otherwise prohibited by 
this subpart; or
    (2) Tree cutting, sale, or removal is needed and appropriate for 
personal or administrative use, as provided for in 36 CFR part 223, 
subpart A.
    (c) Non-Upper Tier Acres. Notwithstanding the prohibition in 
paragraph (a) of this section, trees may be cut, sold, or removed in 
Colorado Roadless Areas outside upper tier acres if the responsible 
official, unless otherwise noted, determines the activity is consistent 
with the applicable land management plan, one or more of the

[[Page 39604]]

roadless area characteristics will be maintained or improved over the 
long-term with the exception of paragraph (5) and (6) of this section, 
and one of the following circumstances exists:
    (1) The Regional Forester determines tree cutting, sale, or removal 
is needed to reduce hazardous fuels to an at-risk community or 
municipal water supply system that is:
    (i) Within the first one-half mile of the community protection 
zone, or
    (ii) Within the next one-mile of the community protection zone, and 
is within an area identified in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
    (iii) Projects undertaken pursuant to paragraphs (c)(1)(i) and (ii) 
of this section will focus on cutting and removing generally small 
diameter trees to create fuel conditions that modify fire behavior 
while retaining large trees to the maximum extent practical as 
appropriate to the forest type.
    (2) The Regional Forester determines tree cutting, sale, or removal 
is needed outside the community protection zone where there is a 
significant risk that a wildland fire disturbance event could adversely 
affect a municipal water supply system or the maintenance of that 
system. A significant risk exists where the history of fire occurrence, 
and fire hazard and risk indicate a serious likelihood that a wildland 
fire disturbance event would present a high risk of threat to a 
municipal water supply system.
    (i) Projects will focus on cutting and removing generally small 
diameter trees to create fuel conditions that modify fire behavior 
while retaining large trees to the maximum extent practical as 
appropriate to the forest type.
    (ii) Projects are expected to be infrequent.
    (3) Tree cutting, sale, or removal is needed to maintain or restore 
the characteristics of ecosystem composition, structure and processes. 
These projects are expected to be infrequent.
    (4) Tree cutting, sale, or removal is needed to improve habitat for 
federally threatened, endangered, proposed, or Agency designated 
sensitive species; in coordination with the Colorado Department of 
Natural Resources, including the Colorado Division of Parks and 
Wildlife.
    (5) Tree cutting, sale, or removal is incidental to the 
implementation of a management activity not otherwise prohibited by 
this subpart.
    (6) Tree cutting, sale, or removal is needed and appropriate for 
personal or administrative use, as provided for in 36 CFR part 223, 
subpart A.


Sec.  294.43  Prohibition on road construction and reconstruction.

    (a) General. A road may not be constructed or reconstructed in a 
Colorado Roadless Area except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of 
this section.
    (b) Upper Tier Acres. Notwithstanding the prohibition in paragraph 
(a) of this section, a road may only be constructed or reconstructed in 
Colorado Roadless Area upper tier acres if the responsible official 
determines that the conditions in subsection 1 or 2 are met.
    (1) A road is needed pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights, or 
as provided for by statute or treaty, or
    (2) A road is needed to protect public health and safety in cases 
of an imminent threat of flood, fire or other catastrophic event that, 
without intervention, would cause the loss of life or property.
    (3) For any road construction/reconstruction authorized pursuant to 
this provision, subject to the legal rights identified in 36 CFR 
294.43(b)(1), the responsible official must determine:
    (i) Motorized access, without road construction is not feasible;
    (ii) When proposing to construct a forest road, that a temporary 
road would not provide reasonable access;
    (iii) Road construction is consistent with the applicable land 
management plan direction;
    (iv) Within a native cutthroat trout catchment or identified 
recovery watershed, road construction will not diminish, over the long-
term, conditions in the water influence zone and the extent of the 
occupied native cutthroat trout habitat; and
    (v) That watershed conservation practices will be applied to all 
projects occurring in native cutthroat trout habitat.
    (c) Non-Upper Tier Acres. Notwithstanding the prohibition in 
paragraph (a) of this section, a road or temporary road may only be 
constructed or reconstructed in Colorado Roadless Areas outside upper 
tier acres if the responsible official determines:
    (1) That one of the following exceptions exists:
    (i) A road is needed pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights, or 
as provided for by statute or treaty;
    (ii) Road realignment is needed to prevent irreparable resource 
damage that arises from the design, location, use, or deterioration of 
a forest road and that cannot be mitigated by road maintenance. Road 
realignment may occur under this paragraph only if the road is deemed 
essential for administrative or public access, public health and 
safety, or uses authorized under permit, easement or other legal 
instrument;
    (iii) Road reconstruction is needed to implement a road safety 
improvement project on a forest road determined to be hazardous on the 
basis of accident experience or accident potential on that road;
    (iv) The Regional Forester determines a road or temporary road is 
needed to allow for the construction, reconstruction, or maintenance of 
an authorized water conveyance structure which is operated pursuant to 
a pre-existing water court decree with the use of the road limited to 
the water right identified in the pre-existing water court decree (see 
also Sec.  294.44(b)(2));
    (v) A temporary road is needed to protect public health and safety 
in cases of imminent threat of flood, fire, or other catastrophic event 
that, without intervention, would cause the loss of life or property;
    (vi) The Regional Forester determines a temporary road is needed to 
facilitate tree cutting, sale, or removal (Sec.  294.42(c)(1)) within 
the first one-half mile of the community protection zone to reduce the 
wildfire hazard to an at-risk community or municipal water supply 
system;
    (vii) The Regional Forester determines a temporary road is needed 
to facilitate tree cutting, sale, or removal (Sec.  294.42(c)(3)) 
within the first one-half mile of the community protection zone to 
maintain or restore characteristics of ecosystem composition, structure 
and processes;
    (viii) A temporary road is needed within a Colorado Roadless Area 
pursuant to the exploration or development of an existing oil and gas 
lease that does not prohibit road construction or reconstruction, 
including the construction of infrastructure necessary to transport the 
product, on National Forest System lands that are under lease issued by 
the Secretary of the Interior as of July 3, 2012. The Forest Service 
shall not authorize the Bureau of Land Management to grant any request 
for a waiver, exception, or modification to any oil or gas lease if 
doing so would result in any road construction within a Colorado 
Roadless Area beyond that which was authorized by the terms and 
conditions of the lease at the time of issuance; or
    (ix) A temporary road is needed for coal exploration and/or coal-
related surface activities for certain lands within Colorado Roadless 
Areas in the North Fork coal mining area of the Grand Mesa, 
Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests as defined by the North Fork 
coal mining area

[[Page 39605]]

displayed on the final Colorado Roadless Areas map. Such roads may also 
be used for collecting and transporting coal mine methane. Any buried 
infrastructure, including pipelines, needed for the capture, 
collection, and use of coal mine methane, will be located within the 
rights-of-way of temporary roads that are otherwise necessary for coal-
related surface activities including the installation and operation of 
methane venting wells.
    (2) If proposed road construction/reconstruction meets one of the 
exceptions, subject to the legal rights identified in Sec.  
294.43(c)(1), the responsible official must determine:
    (i) Motorized access, without road construction is not feasible;
    (ii) When proposing to construct a forest road, that a temporary 
road would not provide reasonable access;
    (iii) Road construction is consistent with the applicable land 
management plan direction;
    (iv) Within a native cutthroat trout catchment or identified 
recovery watershed, road construction will not diminish, over the long-
term, conditions in the water influence zone and the extent of the 
occupied native cutthroat trout habitat; and
    (v) That watershed conservation practices will be applied to all 
projects occurring in native cutthroat trout habitat.
    (d) Road construction/reconstruction/decommissioning project 
implementation and management. The following elements will be 
incorporated into any road construction/reconstruction projects 
implemented within Colorado Roadless Areas.
    (1) Road construction/reconstruction. If it is determined that a 
road is authorized in a Colorado Roadless Area, conduct construction in 
a manner that reduces effects on surface resources, and prevents 
unnecessary or unreasonable surface disturbance.
    (2) Road decommissioning. Decommission any road and restore the 
affected landscape when it is determined that the road is no longer 
needed for the established purpose prior to, or upon termination or 
expiration of a contract, authorization, or permit, if possible; or 
upon termination or expiration of a contract, authorization, or permit, 
whichever is sooner. Require the inclusion of a road decommissioning 
provision in all contracts or permits. Design decommissioning to 
stabilize, restore, and revegetate unneeded roads to a more natural 
state to protect resources and enhance roadless area characteristics. 
Examples include obliteration, denial of use, elimination of travelway 
functionality, and removal of the road prism (restoration of the road 
corridor to the original contour and hydrologic function).
    (3) Road designations. The designation of a temporary road 
constructed or reconstructed pursuant to this subpart may not be 
changed to forest road except where a forest road is allowed under 
paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section.
    (4) Road use. Use of motor vehicles for administrative purposes by 
the Forest Service and by fire, emergency, or law enforcement personnel 
is allowed. All roads constructed pursuant to paragraphs (b) and (c) of 
this section shall prohibit public motorized vehicles (including off-
highway vehicles) except:
    (i) Where specifically used for the purpose for which the road was 
established; or
    (ii) Motor vehicle use that is specifically authorized under a 
Federal law or regulation.
    (5) Road maintenance. Maintenance of roads is permissible in 
Colorado Roadless Areas.


Sec.  294.44  Prohibition on linear construction zones.

    (a) General. A linear construction zone may not be authorized in 
Colorado Roadless Areas except as provided in paragraph (b) and (c) of 
this section and Sec.  294.48 (a).
    (b) Upper Tier Acres. Notwithstanding the prohibition in paragraph 
(a) of this section, a linear construction zone may only be authorized 
within Colorado Roadless Area upper tier acres if the Regional Forester 
determines the LCZ is needed:
    (1) Pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights, or as provided for 
by statute or treaty.
    (2) For the construction, reconstruction, or maintenance of an 
authorized water conveyance structure which is operated pursuant to a 
pre-existing water court decree (see Sec.  294.43(c)(1)(iv));
    (c) Non-Upper Tier Acres. Notwithstanding the prohibition in 
paragraph (a) of this section, a linear construction zone may only be 
authorized within Colorado Roadless Area non-upper tier acres if the 
Regional Forester determines the LCZ is needed:
    (1) Pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights, or as provided for 
by statute or treaty.
    (2) For the construction, reconstruction, or maintenance of an 
authorized water conveyance structure which is operated pursuant to a 
pre-existing water court decree (see Sec.  294.43(c)(1)(iv));
    (3) For the construction, reconstruction, or maintenance of 
existing or future authorized electrical power lines or 
telecommunication lines. Electrical power lines or telecommunication 
lines within Colorado Roadless Areas will only be authorized if there 
is no opportunity for the project to be implemented outside of a 
Colorado Roadless Area without causing substantially greater 
environmental damage; or
    (4) For the construction, reconstruction or maintenance of a 
pipeline associated with operation of an oil and gas lease that allows 
surface use within a Colorado Roadless Area or the construction, 
reconstruction or maintenance of a pipeline needed to connect to 
infrastructure within a Colorado Roadless Area from outside a Colorado 
Roadless Area where such a connection would cause substantially less 
environmental damage than alternative routes. The construction of 
pipelines for the purposes of transporting oil or natural gas through a 
Colorado Roadless Area, where the source(s) and destination(s) of the 
pipeline are located exclusively outside of a Colorado Roadless Area, 
shall not be authorized.
    (d) Proposed Linear Construction Zones. If a proposed linear 
construction zone meets one of the above exceptions, then the following 
must be determined:
    (1) Motorized access, without a linear construction zone, is not 
feasible;
    (2) A linear construction zone is consistent with the applicable 
land management plan direction;
    (3) A linear construction zone is no wider than its intended use;
    (4) Within a native cutthroat trout catchment or identified 
recovery watershed, a linear construction zone will not diminish, over 
the long-term, conditions in the water influence zone and the extent of 
the occupied native cutthroat trout habitat;
    (5) Reclamation of a linear construction zone will not diminish, 
over the long-term, roadless area characteristics; and
    (6) That watershed conservation practices will be applied to all 
projects occurring in catchments with occupied native cutthroat trout 
habitat.
    (e) Linear construction zone decommissioning. Where a linear 
construction zone is authorized in a Colorado Roadless Area, 
installation of the linear facility will be done in a manner that 
minimizes ground disturbance, including placement within existing 
right-of-ways where feasible. All authorizations approving the 
installation of linear facilities through the use of a linear 
construction

[[Page 39606]]

zone shall include a responsible official approved reclamation plan for 
reclaiming the affected landscape while conserving roadless area 
characteristics over the long-term. Upon completion of the installation 
of a linear facility via the use of a linear construction zone, all 
areas of surface disturbance shall be reclaimed as prescribed in the 
authorization and the approved reclamation plan and may not be waived.


Sec.  294.45  Environmental documentation.

    (a) Environmental documentation will be prepared pursuant to 
Section 102 of the National Environmental Policy Act, 40 CFR part 1500, 
and 36 CFR part 220 for any proposed action within a Colorado Roadless 
Area. Proposed actions that would significantly alter the undeveloped 
character of a Colorado Roadless Area require an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS).
    (b) The Forest Service will offer cooperating agency status to the 
State of Colorado, for all proposed projects and planning activities 
subject to this rule that would be implemented on lands within Colorado 
Roadless Areas. Where the Forest Service does not have the authority to 
offer formal cooperating agency status, the Forest Service shall offer 
to coordinate with the State.


Sec.  294.46  Other activities.

    (a) Water Rights. This subpart in no manner restricts any party 
from seeking modification of a pre-existing water court decree, but 
after July 3, 2012 any Forest Service authorization required for road 
construction, road reconstruction, tree cutting, or linear construction 
zones associated with a modified water court decree must conform to the 
requirements in this subpart; provided that road construction or 
reconstruction may be authorized where necessary to change the location 
of a headgate and associated ditch, pursuant to Colorado Revised 
Statute 2011 Sec.  37-86-111.
    (b) Oil and Gas Leases. Oil and gas leases issued within a Colorado 
Roadless Area after July 3, 2012 will prohibit road construction/
reconstruction. The Forest Service shall not authorize the Bureau of 
Land Management to grant any request for a waiver, exception, or 
modification to any oil or gas lease if doing so would result in any 
road construction within a Colorado Roadless Area. For oil and gas 
leases issued in a Colorado Roadless Area prior to July 3, 2012, the 
rule preserves any existing leases and surface development rights. The 
rule also preserves any existing limitations on surface development 
rights arising from lease terms, lease stipulations, conditions of 
approval, 36 CFR 228.100, and Onshore Oil and Gas Orders.
    (c) Oil and Gas Leases on Upper Tier Acres. Oil and gas leases 
issued within upper tier acres after July 3, 2012 will require a no 
surface occupancy stipulation. The Forest Service shall not authorize 
the Bureau of Land Management to grant any request for a waiver, 
exception, or modification to any oil or gas lease if doing so would 
result in surface occupancy within an upper tier area.
    (d) Oil and Gas Surface Use Plans of Operation. Where applicable 
and consistent with lease rights, during the review of any application 
for a surface use plan of operations affecting lands within a Colorado 
Roadless Area, the responsible official will:
    (1) Locate, without compromising health and safety standards, 
roads, well sites, and facilities on pre-existing areas of surface 
disturbance. Project design shall minimize the amount of necessary 
temporary road construction or reconstruction.
    (2) Consider an alternative for proposed operations that addresses 
locating directional drilling of multi-well sites on pre-existing areas 
of surface disturbance. Such an alternative can be dismissed from 
detailed analysis with clear justification.
    (3) Restrict road construction for leases partially within Colorado 
Roadless Areas to portions of the lease outside of Colorado Roadless 
Areas except when doing so will be substantially more environmentally 
damaging, compromise safety standards, or is unfeasible due to surface 
and/or operational conditions.
    (4) Perform reclamation of surface disturbances incrementally, to 
minimize the total area of disturbance at any given point in time 
during the exploration or development of a lease.
    (5) Design temporary roads and facilities to blend with the terrain 
to minimize visual impacts and to facilitate restoration when the road 
is no longer needed.
    (6) Co-locate, consistent with health and safety standards, power 
lines, flow lines and pipelines within the right-of-way of roads or 
other LCZs to minimize the area of surface disturbance.
    (7) Consider new and developing low impact techniques and 
technologies and either apply or dismiss with justification.
    (8) Consider the best available technology to minimize noise and 
air emissions.
    (e) Trails. Nothing in this subpart shall affect the current or 
future management of motorized and non-motorized trails in Colorado 
Roadless Areas. Decisions concerning the management or status of 
motorized and non-motorized trails within Colorado Roadless Areas under 
this subpart shall be made during the applicable forest travel 
management processes.
    (f) Motorized access. Nothing in this subpart shall be construed as 
limiting the authority of the responsible official to approve existing 
and future motorized access not requiring road construction or 
reconstruction in Colorado Roadless Areas associated with grazing 
permits, special use authorizations, and other authorizations.
    (g) Livestock grazing. The authority to issue livestock grazing 
permits on national forest system lands within a Colorado Roadless Area 
is not affected by this subpart; however, no new temporary or forest 
roads shall be authorized through grazing permits issued after July 3, 
2012.


Sec.  294.47  Modifications and administrative corrections.

    Modifications and administrative corrections pursuant to this 
subpart, after coordination with the State, may be made under the 
following circumstances:
    (a) Modifications to boundaries. The Chief of the Forest Service 
may modify the boundaries of any designated Colorado Roadless Area 
identified in Sec.  294.49 or add new Colorado Roadless Areas based on 
changed circumstances. Modifications and additions will be reflected in 
the set of maps maintained at the national headquarters office of the 
Forest Service. The construction or reconstruction of a temporary road 
or tree cutting, sale, or removal will not result in any boundary 
modification of a Colorado Roadless Area. Public notice with a minimum 
90-day comment period will be provided for any proposed Colorado 
Roadless Area boundary modifications or additions.
    (b) Administrative corrections to boundaries. The Chief of the 
Forest Service may issue administrative corrections after public notice 
and a 30-day comment period. Administrative corrections to the maps of 
any designated Colorado Roadless Areas identified in Sec.  294.49, 
including upper tier acres are adjustments to remedy errors such as 
clerical or improvements in mapping technology. Other than clerical 
errors, an administrative correction is based on improved field data 
due to updated imagery, global positioning system data, or other 
collected field data.
    (c) Amendments to rule language. Any amendment of this subpart will 
include coordination with the State and

[[Page 39607]]

the appropriate level of NEPA analysis. A minimum 90-day comment period 
will be provided.


Sec.  294.48  Scope and applicability.

    (a) This subpart does not revoke, suspend, or modify any permit, 
contract, lease, or other legal instrument authorizing or granting 
rights to the occupancy and use of National Forest system land issued 
prior to July 3, 2012 nor does it affect the authority or the 
discretion of the responsible official to reissue any such permit, 
contract, or other legal instrument upon its expiration or termination.
    (b) This subpart does not revoke, suspend, or modify any project or 
activity decision made prior to July 3, 2012.
    (c) The provisions set forth in this subpart provide the maximum 
level of tree cutting, sale and removal, and road construction and 
reconstruction activity allowed within Colorado Roadless Areas. Land 
management plan components can be more restrictive than this subpart 
and will continue to provide direction and guidance for projects and 
activities within Colorado Roadless Areas. Nothing in this subpart 
shall prohibit a responsible official from further restricting 
activities allowed within Colorado Roadless Areas. This subpart does 
not compel the amendment or revision of any land management plan.
    (d) The prohibitions and restrictions established in this subpart 
are not subject to reconsideration, revision, or rescission in 
subsequent project decisions or land management plan amendments or 
revisions undertaken pursuant to 36 CFR part 219.
    (e) Nothing in this subpart waives any applicable requirements 
regarding site specific environmental analysis, public involvement, 
consultation with Tribes and other agencies, or compliance with 
applicable laws.
    (f) If any provision in this subpart or its application to any 
person or to certain circumstances is held to be invalid, the remainder 
of the regulations in this subpart and their application remain in 
force.
    (g) After July 3, 2012 36 CFR 294.10 through 294.14 shall have no 
effect within the State of Colorado.


Sec.  294.49  List of designated Colorado Roadless Areas.

    All National Forest System lands within the State of Colorado 
listed in this section are hereby designated as Colorado Roadless 
Areas. An ``X'' in the third column indicates that some or all of that 
CRA contains upper tier acres.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Colorado roadless area    Includes upper
          Line No.                      name               tier acres
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 1..........................  Bard Creek.............                 X
 2..........................  Byers Peak.............                 X
 3..........................  Cache La Poudre                         X
                               Adjacent Areas.
 4..........................  Cherokee Park..........  .................
 5..........................  Comanche Peak Adjacent                  X
                               Areas.
 6..........................  Copper Mountain........  .................
 7..........................  Crosier Mountain.......  .................
 8..........................  Gold Run...............                 X
 9..........................  Green Ridge -East......                 X
 10.........................  Green Ridge -West......                 X
 11.........................  Grey Rock..............  .................
 12.........................  Hell Canyon............  .................
 13.........................  Indian Peaks Adjacent                   X
                               Areas.
 14.........................  James Peak.............  .................
 15.........................  Kelly Creek............                 X
 16.........................  Lion Gulch.............  .................
 17.........................  Mount Evans Adjacent                    X
                               Areas.
 18.........................  Mount Sniktau..........                 X
 19.........................  Neota Adjacent Area....                 X
 20.........................  Never Summer Adjacent    .................
                               Area.
 21.........................  North Lone Pine........                 X
 22.........................  North St. Vrain........                 X
 23.........................  Rawah Adjacent Areas...                 X
 24.........................  Square Top Mountain....                 X
 25.........................  Troublesome............                 X
 26.........................  Vasquez Adjacent Area..                 X
 27.........................  White Pine Mountain....  .................
 28.........................  Williams Fork..........                 X
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 29.........................  Agate Creek............  .................
 30.........................  American Flag Mountain.  .................
 31.........................  Baldy..................  .................
 32.........................  Battlements............  .................
 33.........................  Beaver.................                 X
 34.........................  Beckwiths..............  .................
 35.........................  Calamity Basin.........  .................
 36.........................  Cannibal Plateau.......  .................
 37.........................  Canyon Creek-Antero....  .................
 38.........................  Canyon Creek...........  .................
 39.........................  Carson.................                 X
 40.........................  Castle.................  .................
 41.........................  Cataract...............                 X
 42.........................  Cimarron Ridge.........  .................

[[Page 39608]]

 
 43.........................  Clear Fork.............  .................
 44.........................  Cochetopa..............                 X
 45.........................  Cochetopa Hills........  .................
 46.........................  Cottonwoods............  .................
 47.........................  Crystal Creek..........  .................
 48.........................  Crystal Peak...........                 X
 49.........................  Curecanti..............                 X
 50.........................  Currant Creek..........  .................
 51.........................  Deer Creek.............  .................
 52.........................  Dominguez..............  .................
 53.........................  Double Top.............  .................
 54.........................  East Elk...............  .................
 55.........................  Electric Mountain......  .................
 56.........................  Failes Creek-Soldier                    X
                               Creek.
 57.........................  Flatirons..............  .................
 58.........................  Flattop Mountain.......  .................
 59.........................  Flattops-Elk Park......  .................
 60.........................  Gothic.................  .................
 61.........................  Granite Basin..........                 X
 62.........................  Hightower..............  .................
 63.........................  Hope Lake..............                 X
 64.........................  Horse Ranch Park.......  .................
 65.........................  Horsefly Canyon........                 X
 66.........................  Huntsman Ridge.........  .................
 67.........................  Italian Mountain.......  .................
 68.........................  Johnson Basin..........                 X
 69.........................  Kannah Creek...........  .................
 70.........................  Kelso Mesa.............  .................
 71.........................  Last Dollar-Sheep Creek  .................
 72.........................  Little Cimarron........                 X
 73.........................  Long Canyon............  .................
 74.........................  Matchless Mountain.....  .................
 75.........................  Matterhorn.............                 X
 76.........................  McClure Pass...........  .................
 77.........................  Mendicant..............                 X
 78.........................  Mineral Mountain.......                 X
 79.........................  Mirror Lake............  .................
 80.........................  Mount Lamborn..........                 X
 81.........................  Munsey-Erickson........                 X
 82.........................  Naturita Canyon........                 X
 83.........................  North Henson...........  .................
 84.........................  Pilot Knob.............  .................
 85.........................  Poverty Gulch..........                 X
 86.........................  Salt Creek.............  .................
 87.........................  Sanford Basin..........                 X
 88.........................  Sawtooth...............                 X
 89.........................  Schofield Pass.........  .................
 90.........................  Soap Creek.............                 X
 91.........................  Steuben................  .................
 92.........................  Sunnyside..............  .................
 93.........................  Sunset.................  .................
 94.........................  Texas Creek............  .................
 95.........................  Tomahawk...............  .................
 96.........................  Turner Creek...........  .................
 97.........................  Turret Ridge...........                 X
 98.........................  Unaweep................                 X
 99.........................  Union..................  .................
100.........................  Whetstone..............  .................
101.........................  Whitehouse Mountain....                 X
102.........................  Willow Creek...........  .................
103.........................  Wilson.................                 X
104.........................  Windy Point............  .................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                      Manti-La Sal National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
105.........................  Roc Creek..............                 X
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     Pike-San Isabel National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
106.........................  Antelope Creek.........  .................
107.........................  Aspen Ridge............                 X
108.........................  Babcock Hole...........  .................
109.........................  Badger Creek...........                 X

[[Page 39609]]

 
110.........................  Boreas.................  .................
111.........................  Buffalo Peaks East.....                 X
112.........................  Buffalo Peaks South....  .................
113.........................  Buffalo Peaks West.....                 X
114.........................  Burning Bear...........                 X
115.........................  Chicago Ridge..........  .................
116.........................  Chipeta................  .................
117.........................  Cuchara North..........  .................
118.........................  Cuchara South..........  .................
119.........................  Elk Mountain-Collegiate                 X
                               North.
120.........................  Elk Mountain-Collegiate  .................
                               South.
121.........................  Elk Mountain-Collegiate                 X
                               West.
122.........................  Farnum.................  .................
123.........................  Green Mountain.........  .................
124.........................  Greenhorn Mountain:                     X
                               Badito Cone to Dry
                               Creek.
125.........................  Greenhorn Mountain:      .................
                               Cisneros Creek to
                               Upper Turkey Creek.
126.........................  Greenhorn Mountain:                     X
                               Graneros Creek to
                               Section 10.
127.........................  Greenhorn Mountain:      .................
                               Little Saint Charles
                               Creek to Greenhorn
                               Creek.
128.........................  Gunbarrel..............  .................
129.........................  Hardscrabble...........  .................
130.........................  Highline...............  .................
131.........................  Holy Cross.............                 X
132.........................  Hoosier Ridge..........                 X
133.........................  Jefferson..............  .................
134.........................  Kaufman Ridge..........  .................
135.........................  Kreutzer-Princeton.....                 X
136.........................  Little Fountain Creek..                 X
137.........................  Lost Creek East........  .................
138.........................  Lost Creek South.......  .................
139.........................  Lost Creek West........  .................
140.........................  Methodist Mountain.....  .................
141.........................  Mount Antero...........  .................
142.........................  Mount Elbert...........  .................
143.........................  Mount Evans............                 X
144.........................  Mount Massive..........                 X
145.........................  Pikes Peak East........  .................
146.........................  Pikes Peak West........  .................
147.........................  Porphyry Peak..........  .................
148.........................  Puma Hills.............  .................
149.........................  Purgatoire.............                 X
150.........................  Rampart East...........                 X
151.........................  Rampart West...........  .................
152.........................  Reveille Canyon........  .................
153.........................  Romley.................                 X
154.........................  Saint Charles Peak.....  .................
155.........................  Sangre de Cristo:                       X
                               Alvarado Campground to
                               Music Pass.
156.........................  Sangre de Cristo:                       X
                               Blanca Peak to Slide
                               Mountain.
157.........................  Sangre de Cristo: Lake                  X
                               Creek to Hermit Creek.
158.........................  Sangre de Cristo:                       X
                               Medano Pass to
                               Carbonate Mountain.
159.........................  Sangre de Cristo:        .................
                               Silverheels Gulch to
                               Hunts Creek.
160.........................  Sangre de Cristo: West   .................
                               Creek to Big
                               Cottonwood.
161.........................  Schoolmarm Mountain....  .................
162.........................  Scraggy Peaks..........  .................
163.........................  Sheep Rock.............  .................
164.........................  Silverheels............                 X
165.........................  Spanish Peaks..........                 X
166.........................  Square Top Mountain....                 X
167.........................  Starvation Creek.......  .................
168.........................  Tanner Peak............                 X
169.........................  Thirtynine Mile                         X
                               Mountain.
170.........................  Thunder Butte..........  .................
171.........................  Weston Peak............                 X
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Rio Grande National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
172.........................  Alamosa River..........                 X
173.........................  Antora Meadows-Bear                     X
                               Creek.
174.........................  Beartown...............                 X
175.........................  Beaver Mountain........                 X
176.........................  Bennet Mountain-Blowout-                X
                               Willow Creek-Lion
                               Point-Greenie Mountain.
177.........................  Big Buck-Kitty-Ruby....                 X
178.........................  Box-Road Canyon........                 X
179.........................  Bristol Head...........                 X

[[Page 39610]]

 
180.........................  Butterfly..............  .................
181.........................  Chama Basin............                 X
182.........................  Conejos River-Lake Fork  .................
183.........................  Copper Mountain-Sulphur                 X
184.........................  Cotton Creek...........  .................
185.........................  Crestone...............  .................
186.........................  Cumbres................                 X
187.........................  Deep Creek-Boot                         X
                               Mountain.
188.........................  Dorsey Creek...........                 X
189.........................  Elkhorn Peak...........                 X
190.........................  Four Mile Creek........                 X
191.........................  Fox Creek..............                 X
192.........................  Fox Mountain...........                 X
193.........................  Gibbs Creek............  .................
194.........................  Gold Creek-Cascade                      X
                               Creek.
195.........................  Hot Springs............  .................
196.........................  Indian Ridge...........                 X
197.........................  Kitty Creek............  .................
198.........................  La Garita..............                 X
199.........................  Lake Fork..............                 X
200.........................  Lower East Bellows.....                 X
201.........................  Middle Alder...........                 X
202.........................  Miller Creek...........  .................
203.........................  Pole Creek.............  .................
204.........................  Pole Mountain-Finger                    X
                               Mesa.
205.........................  Red Mountain...........                 X
206.........................  Ruby Lake..............                 X
207.........................  Sawlog.................                 X
208.........................  Sheep Mountain.........                 X
209.........................  Silver Lakes-Stunner...                 X
210.........................  Snowshoe Mountain......                 X
211.........................  Spectacle Lake.........  .................
212.........................  Spruce Hole-Sheep Creek                 X
213.........................  Stunner Pass-Dolores                    X
                               Canyon.
214.........................  Sulphur Tunnel.........  .................
215.........................  Summit Peak-Elwood Pass                 X
216.........................  Taylor Canyon..........                 X
217.........................  Tewksberry.............                 X
218.........................  Tobacco Lakes..........                 X
219.........................  Trout Mountain-Elk                      X
                               Mountain.
220.........................  Ute Pass...............                 X
221.........................  Wason Park.............                 X
222.........................  Wightman Fork-Upper                     X
                               Burro.
223.........................  Wightman Fork -Lookout.                 X
224.........................  Willow Mountain........                 X
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Routt National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
225.........................  Barber Basin...........  .................
226.........................  Black Mountain.........  .................
227.........................  Bunker Basin...........                 X
228.........................  Bushy Creek............  .................
229.........................  Chatfield..............                 X
230.........................  Chedsey Creek..........  .................
231.........................  Dome...................  .................
232.........................  Dome Peak..............                 X
233.........................  Elkhorn................  .................
234.........................  Gold Creek.............  .................
235.........................  Grizzly Helena.........  .................
236.........................  Kettle Lakes...........                 X
237.........................  Little Green Creek.....  .................
238.........................  Long Park..............  .................
239.........................  Mad Creek..............  .................
240.........................  Morrison Creek.........  .................
241.........................  Never Summer North.....  .................
242.........................  Never Summer South.....  .................
243.........................  Nipple Peak North......                 X
244.........................  Nipple Peak South......                 X
245.........................  Pagoda Peak............                 X
246.........................  Shield Mountain........                 X
247.........................  South Fork.............                 X
248.........................  Sugarloaf North........  .................
249.........................  Sugarloaf South........                 X

[[Page 39611]]

 
250.........................  Troublesome North......                 X
251.........................  Troublesome South......                 X
252.........................  Walton Peak............  .................
253.........................  Whalen Creek...........  .................
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        San Juan National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
254.........................  Baldy..................  .................
255.........................  Blackhawk Mountain.....  .................
256.........................  East Animas............                 X
257.........................  Fish Creek.............  .................
258.........................  Florida River..........  .................
259.........................  Graham Park............                 X
260.........................  HD Mountains...........  .................
261.........................  Hermosa................                 X
262.........................  Lizard Head Adjacent...                 X
263.........................  Piedra Area Adjacent...                 X
264.........................  Runlett Park...........  .................
265.........................  Ryman..................                 X
266.........................  San Miguel.............                 X
267.........................  South San Juan Adjacent                 X
268.........................  Storm Peak.............  .................
269.........................  Treasure Mountain......                 X
270.........................  Turkey Creek...........                 X
271.........................  Weminuche Adjacent.....                 X
272.........................  West Needles...........                 X
273.........................  Winter Hills/            .................
                               Serviceberry Mountain.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       White River National Forest
------------------------------------------------------------------------
274.........................  Adam Mountain..........  .................
275.........................  Ashcroft...............  .................
276.........................  Assignation Ridge......                 X
277.........................  Baldy Mountain.........  .................
278.........................  Basalt Mountain A......  .................
279.........................  Basalt Mountain B......  .................
280.........................  Berry Creek............  .................
281.........................  Big Ridge to South Fork                 X
                               A.
282.........................  Big Ridge to South Fork                 X
                               B.
283.........................  Black Lake East........  .................
284.........................  Black Lake West........  .................
285.........................  Blair Mountain.........  .................
286.........................  Boulder................  .................
287.........................  Budges.................  .................
288.........................  Buffer Mountain........  .................
289.........................  Burnt Mountain.........  .................
290.........................  Chicago Ridge..........                 X
291.........................  Corral Creek...........                 X
292.........................  Crystal River..........  .................
293.........................  Deep Creek.............                 X
294.........................  Dome Peak..............                 X
295.........................  East Divide-Four Mile    .................
                               Park.
296.........................  East Vail..............  .................
297.........................  East Willow............  .................
298.........................  Elk Creek B............  .................
299.........................  Elliot Ridge...........                 X
300.........................  Fawn Creek-Little Lost   .................
                               Park.
301.........................  Freeman Creek..........                 X
302.........................  Gallo Hill.............  .................
303.........................  Game Creek.............  .................
304.........................  Grizzly Creek..........  .................
305.........................  Gypsum Creek...........                 X
306.........................  Hardscrabble...........  .................
307.........................  Hay Park...............  .................
308.........................  Holy Cross City........  .................
309.........................  Homestake..............  .................
310.........................  Hoosier Ridge..........                 X
311.........................  Housetop Mountain......  .................
312.........................  Hunter.................                 X
313.........................  Little Grand Mesa......                 X
314.........................  Lower Piney............  .................
315.........................  Mamm Peak..............  .................
316.........................  Maroon East............  .................

[[Page 39612]]

 
317.........................  Maryland Creek.........  .................
318.........................  McClure Pass...........  .................
319.........................  McFarlane..............  .................
320.........................  Meadow Mountain A......  .................
321.........................  Meadow Mountain B......  .................
322.........................  Morapos A..............  .................
323.........................  Morapos B..............  .................
324.........................  Mormon Creek...........                 X
325.........................  No Name................  .................
326.........................  North Elk..............  .................
327.........................  North Independent A....                 X
328.........................  North Independent B....  .................
329.........................  North Woody............  .................
330.........................  Pagoda Peak............  .................
331.........................  Piney Lake.............  .................
332.........................  Porcupine Peak.........                 X
333.........................  Ptarmigan A............  .................
334.........................  Ptarmigan B............                 X
335.........................  Ptarmigan C............                 X
336.........................  Ptarmigan Hill A.......  .................
337.........................  Ptarmigan Hill B.......  .................
338.........................  Red Dirt A.............  .................
339.........................  Red Dirt B.............  .................
340.........................  Red Mountain...........  .................
341.........................  Red Table..............                 X
342.........................  Reno Mountain..........  .................
343.........................  Ripple Creek Pass-                      X
                               Trappers Lake.
344.........................  Ryan Gulch.............  .................
345.........................  Salt Creek.............  .................
346.........................  Sloan Peak.............                 X
347.........................  Spraddle Creek A.......                 X
348.........................  Spraddle Creek B.......  .................
349.........................  Sweetwater A...........                 X
350.........................  Sweetwater B...........  .................
351.........................  Tenderfoot Mountain....                 X
352.........................  Tenmile................  .................
353.........................  Thompson Creek.........  .................
354.........................  Tigiwon................                 X
355.........................  Treasure Mountain......                 X
356.........................  West Brush Creek.......  .................
357.........................  West Lake Creek........  .................
358.........................  Wildcat Mountain.......  .................
359.........................  Wildcat Mountain B.....  .................
360.........................  Wildcat Mountain C.....  .................
361.........................  Williams Fork..........  .................
362.........................  Willow.................  .................
363.........................  Woods Lake.............                 X
------------------------------------------------------------------------


     Dated: June 25, 2012.
Arthur L. Blazer,
Deputy Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment.
[FR Doc. 2012-15958 Filed 7-2-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P