DELTA, Colo. (AP) – The U.S. Forest Service has consented to expanding federal leases that Mountain Coal Co. uses to extract coal from the West Elk Mine.

The group WildEarth Guardians says it’s disappointed. It hasn’t said whether it will appeal.

The Forest Service decision Tuesday concerns a request for the Bureau of Land Management to expand the leases by about 1,700 acres, including 1,450 acres in roadless areas. The decision doesn’t authorize any mining or road building but does say plans for those activities will be subject to any future rules on roadless areas. There also could be stipulations to protect lynx and scenic views.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to decide in coming months whether to approve Colorado’s proposal for managing roadless areas in the state.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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