Glenwood Springs to support Thompson Divide Coalition
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Glenwood Springs will likely become the next town in the Roaring Fork Valley to support the Thompson Divide Coalition.
Glenwood Springs City Council asked City Attorney Jan Shute to draft a resolution in support of the coalition’s efforts opposing energy development in an area west of Glenwood Springs.
“We were very pleased to align ourselves with the other Roaring Fork governments that we will see some protection for the area,” said Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen.
The coalition is a smorgasbord of local ranchers, farmers, outdoors enthusiasts, conservation groups and local governments whose main goal is raising awareness of the potential threats of natural gas development in the area.
“We were concerned with the long-term damage to a really pristine area that is important to our region,” Christensen said.
Fourteen energy companies hold 81 leases on close to 100,200 acres within the area of interest. The area includes the headwaters of Thompson and Fourmile creeks, the Muddy Basin and the headwaters of East Divide Creek. Several of the leases are within the 122,000-acre roadless area, which links the Grand and Battlement mesas and the Elk Mountains, which is also the largest contiguous roadless area in the state.
Currently, most of the leases in the area are not under production, although older wells in the Wolf Creek field are being used for seasonal storage of natural gas, according to a report submitted by the coalition to City Council.
The coalition’s main argument against development in the area is that the land provides important habitat for wildlife, and excellent hunting and angling opportunities. Christensen agreed.
“In this end of the county, recreation is a critical piece of the economy,” Christensen said. “From my standpoint, the small amount of gas that may be available in the Thompson Creek area, extraction of that would not come near offsetting the environmental damage and long-term potential economic harm to the community.”
But potential development was not council’s only concern and brought up other questions regarding impact on the local communities.
The report to council stated that development of the leases in the prioritized area raises “significant concern” because access to most of the leases would funnel what the coalition termed “industrial traffic” directly through Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Christensen said that council’s concern was that development in the area would have negative impacts in town along Grand Avenue, and also along Fourmile Road up to Sunlight Mountain Resort.
“No matter which way (the traffic) were to go, all of the industrial traffic would travel down Grand Avenue through downtown,” Christensen said. “I think that would cause degradation to the downtown.”
If the City Council approves the resolution, Glenwood would join Aspen, Carbondale, and the Pitkin County Board of Commissioners in supporting the coalition’s efforts.
City Council will vote on the resolution for support at its July 16 meeting.
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