Letter: Grateful for Divide decision
December 1, 2016
As an angler, Colorado Trout Unlimited member and resident here in the Roaring Fork Valley, I couldn't be prouder of what we've recently accomplished in the Thompson Divide: a reasonable compromise that balances the need for domestic energy development with conservation of public lands and irreplaceable natural resources.
On Nov. 17, the Bureau of Land Management canceled 25 leases in several important wildlife habitat areas in the Thompson Divide — a Colorado last best place — while permitting leasing to go ahead in adjacent areas. The agreement preserves hunting areas and watersheds for sportsmen, big game and fish, and many other important uses. It acknowledges that some places are too special to drill, while others can be an important part of meeting our energy needs.
That balanced solution took work. Stakeholders on all sides of the issue — Colorado Trout Unlimited, hikers, mountain bikers, the oil and gas industry, hunters and ranchers — sat down and hammered out an agreement. In light of the current heated political atmosphere, this compromise seems especially powerful.
I'm grateful to state and national leaders, from Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and BLM Director Neil Kornze to state-based BLM Director Ruth Welch and her staff, for listening to and respecting the input from sportsmen and local leaders to balance public lands protection with responsible energy development. And a big thanks to Sen. Michael Bennet for his tireless commitment to making sure the area remains accessible and protected for recreation and ranching.
I hope this kind of balanced, reasoned policy-making will continue as the incoming administration tackles the issue of energy development on public lands.