Colorado Underground & Above Ground: The Mission of the Thompson Divide Coalition

by Duane Nichols on August 13, 2016

SAVE Colorado's Thompson Divide (green)

Urge BLM to Protect the Thompson Divide! Take Action Today!

From: Thompson Divide Coalition,

BLM is proposing to cancel 16 undeveloped, improperly-issued leases in the heart of the Thompson Divide. Many of these public minerals (yes, they belong to the public) were issued for the absolute minimum of $2/Acre. To make matters worse, the BLM issued these leases without adequate environmental review and without notifying local governments or stakeholders, a key component of federal law.

CLICK HERE: Urge the BLM today to follow the Forest Service’s lead! Thank them for proposing to cancel leases in the Divide and urge them to stand with our communities today.

The mission of the Thompson Divide Coalition is to secure permanent protection from oil and gas development on Federal lands in the Thompson Divide area including the Thompson Creek and Four Mile Creek watersheds, as well as portions of the Muddy Basin, Coal Basin, and the headwaters of East Divide Creek.

Why We Need to Save the Thompson Divide Area

The Thompson Divide area covers 221,500 acres of Federal land in Pitkin County (88,100 acres), Gunnison County (51,700 acres), Garfield County (43,500 acres), Mesa County (30,500 acres) and Delta County (7,700 acres). In 2003 the Bush Administration issued 81 mineral leases in the Thompson Divide. There are currently 61 active lease holdings in the area covering approximately 105,000 acres. Half of the leases are in roadless areas and do not contain surface stipulations.

Our rural economies in and around the Roaring Fork Valley rely, in part, upon existing uses in the Thompson Divide area. Collectively, hunting, fishing, ranching, and recreation in the Thompson Divide area support nearly 300 jobs and $30 million in annual economic output for our local communities.

Recognizing the importance of existing uses in the Thompson Divide area, Senator Michael Bennet has introduced the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act in the United States Senate. Bennet’s bill offers a middle-ground solution to the ongoing conversation about the Thompson Divide’s future. If passed, the legislation would withdraw unleased public minerals in the area, and provide an opportunity for existing leases to be retired should they be donated or sold by willing owners.

Existing leases in the Thompson Divide amount to less than 1 percent of active leases on public lands in the entire state of Colorado; meanwhile, 99 percent of the lands in the Thompson Divide area are used for agriculture, sporting and recreation.

Development in the Thompson Divide area is not a “game-changer” for Colorado’s oil and gas industry, but development in the area could seriously impact rich and vibrant rural economies built around existing uses in the Thompson Divide.

Colorado is already doing its part to supply the nation with natural gas. Garfield County, for example, has more than 10,000 active oil and gas wells and produces nearly twice as much natural gas and coal-bed methane as any other county in the state.

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Take Action in the Thompson Divide with the Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

A beautiful national forest and habitat for wildlife are at risk from oil and gas drilling.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) analyzing 65 unlawfully issued leases for oil and gas drilling in the White River National Forest, including leases in the Thompson Divide. The good news is that BLM is proposing to cancel 25 leases in the Thompson Divide. The bad news is that BLM’s latest plan also abandons important protections for 27 other unlawful oil and gas drilling leases.

Allowing the oil and gas industry to drill on unlawful leases within the White River National Forest is the wrong decision. Take action today to stop these leases.

BLM’s latest plan rolls back protections that were proposed as recently as last November in its own Draft EIS for lands in the Willow Creek, Mamm Peak, and Battlement Mesa areas. The plan would reaffirm more than 40 percent of the total unlawful drilling leases, without adequate resource protections.

The Battlement Mesa, Mamm Peak, and East Willow areas lie within and immediately west of the Thompson Divide. These areas are just as ecologically important as the lands where BLM has proposed to cancel leases. They contain pristine wildlife habitat, roadless lands, sensitive fish species, rare plants, and unstable and erosive soils.

But this decision isn’t final — we still have one last opportunity to influence the final decision and convince the agency to adequately protect all of the lands that were unlawfully leased.

Take action today to urge decision-makers to protect our public lands, wildlife, and our climate by canceling all of the oil and gas leases in the White River National Forest.

We should be protecting national forests for the enjoyment of wildlife and recreation — not digging them up to burn fossil fuels that will harm our climate. Let’s make sure BLM makes the right decision.

Thank you for speaking out,

Lena Moffitt, Director, Sierra Club Fuels Campaign

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Redrock Utah August 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Moab UTAH Master Leasing Plan Is a Big Step in the Right Direction

Good news! The BLM recently released a long awaited plan that will guide energy and mineral development away from sensitive lands near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and many outstanding proposed wilderness areas that are too wild to drill. The BLM’s Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) will help the agency better manage oil and gas development and potash mining to avoid conflicts with other resources on more than 785,000 acres of public land in eastern Utah.

The Moab MLP is a significant improvement over the status quo and adds much needed protection to wild places that are currently under threat from oil and gas leasing and development, including Fisher Towers, Porcupine Rim, Six-Shooter Peaks, and Goldbar Canyon. It also strengthens protections for the classic vistas, dark night skies, and clean water of Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

Take action: Tell the BLM you support the MLP process and appreciate the agency’s decision to protect wild lands in the Moab area from oil and gas leasing and development. 


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