Agriculture

Our Rural Character

The Thompson Divide area has been ranched for more than a century, and it remains the strongest enclave of traditional ranching culture in the Roaring Fork Valley. Some 35 operations graze cattle on their own pastures and rely on federal grazing allotments to run their cattle from early June through mid-October in the surrounding hills. These ranches and allotments preserve thousands of acres of increasingly scarce winter range for deer and elk, and thus play an essential role in the larger ecosystem.

Grazing in the Thompson Divide is important to the strengthening of our local economies and is an integral piece to the ranching industry’s success here on the Western Slope. Allotments in the Thompson Divide supports approximately 19,230 animal unit months. Ranchers using these allotments support 64 long-term, sustainable jobs and nearly $11.3 million in economic value for local communities.

The Thompson Divide is more valuable to our local economies in its current rural state than it would be if developed by an industry such as oil and gas. The area’s agricultural heritage stands in the balance as oil and gas development creeps nearer. Ranching operations in western portions of Garfield County have been marginalized by industrial oil and gas development. If we don’t act quickly to protect the farming and ranching operations in the Thompson Divide area, we stand to lose them forever.