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.