Thompson coalition gets thumbs up from C’dale board |

Thompson coalition gets thumbs up from C’dale board

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Carbondale’s Board of Trustees has endorsed the new Thompson Divide Coalition in its efforts to oppose natural gas development on public lands in the Thompson Creek area west of town.

The board passed the resolution on a 5-0 vote Tuesday night.

The Thompson Divide Coalition formed recently, bringing together local ranchers, farmers, outdoors enthusiasts, conservation groups and local governments to raise awareness about the threat of natural gas development.

Some 80 gas leases exist on federal lands in the area encompassing the headwaters of Thompson and Fourmile creeks, the Muddy Basin and the headwaters of East Divide Creek. The 122,000-acre area is the largest contiguous roadless area in the state.

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About half of those leases were in roadless areas, and were left without surface stipulations after the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule was in effect, explained Bill Fales of the North Thompson Cattlemen’s’ Association and Dorothea Farris of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association.

“We can’t stress enough how big a threat this is,” Fales said before the town board Tuesday. “I don’t think we’d have any ranches left around Carbondale if those leases are developed.”

The resolution signed by the town points out that ranching and farming are an important part of the Roaring Fork Valley’s economy.

“These watersheds provide clean water to farms and ranches, as well as water for domestic use,” the resolution states. “In addition, these federal lands host grazing allotments for summer range for the majority of the area’s ranchers.”

It also points out the area’s attributes for wildlife habitat and migration corridors, as well as hunting, fishing, hiking, climbing, snowmobiling and other recreational opportunities.

“Energy development in this area would have a deleterious impact on the rural character … and agricultural heritage of the valley and the town, and would forever ruin the wild character,” the resolution states.

It adds, “… the Thompson Divide Coalition recognizes the need for energy development, (however) it believes it is imperative that energy development occur only in appropriate places, and that it proceed in a responsible manner.”

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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