Public meeting Dec. 14 on proposed Thompson Divide mineral-leasing withdrawal
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are hosting an informational public meeting on Dec. 14 in Carbondale regarding the proposal to withdraw approximately 224,704 acres of federal lands in Garfield, Gunnison and Pitkin counties — encompassing the area known as Thompson Divide — from future mineral leasing.
According to a USFS news release, the meeting is to include two sessions of up to one-hour, beginning at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., at the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District, 300 Meadowood Drive in Carbondale.
The meetings can also be attended virtually by advance registration at: blm.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_kOqvlqQ7R_Kjo4dgFypoJg
On Oct. 12, the Department of the Interior announced steps to protect the Thompson Divide area, and the BLM published a notice in the Federal Register, announcing the withdrawal proposal — available online on the Federal Register website. The announcement came at the same time the Biden Administration announced the establishment of the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument.
Next week’s info sessions are to consist of a short presentation explaining the Thompson Divide withdrawal proposal and process, followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. Information about how to provide written comments will be provided. The 6 p.m. session will include Spanish interpretation.
“This is really a preliminary meeting to discuss the process moving forward,” Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests Deputy Supervisor Anthony Edwards said in the news release. “We will be conducting a thorough environmental review of the proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act, which will include additional opportunities for public comment.”
The notice initiated a two-year segregation period, which prohibits any new federal mineral leases within the proposed withdrawal area. The segregation does not apply to pre-existing leases or private minerals. If approved, the withdrawal would be over a 20-year period, subject to valid existing rights, the release states.
The initial comment period will close Jan. 16, 2023. Comments should be sent to State Director, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield Street, Lakewood, Colorado 80215 or email to: BLM_CO_Thompson_Divide@blm.gov.
The facilitators will create a stakeholder group to compile interests and viewpoints on protection for the Crystal River, including the Wild and Scenic designation.
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