Letter: Shocked GarCo Commissioners reversed on Thompson Divide | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Shocked GarCo Commissioners reversed on Thompson Divide

I was disappointed to hear of Garfield County’s reversal after a decade of supporting legislation to protect the Thompson Divide. I have pastured cattle in the Thompson Divide for over 10 years and know how important it is to the ranching community, and also to the local economy, sportsmen and women, and thousands of citizens of Garfield County. The Thompson Divide area provides some of the best grazing lands in western Colorado and oil and gas development of the area is just clearly not appropriate.

 Garfield County along with nearby towns, adjacent counties, ranches and businesses have long supported protection of this special place through a legislated mineral withdrawal. In 2010 Garfield County requested legislation “to ensure that the Thompson Divide gets the permanent protection it deserves.” In 2012, the Commission re-affirmed their support “to explore legislative initiatives and other opportunities to protect these special areas from energy development.” Commissioner John Martin in 2014 and again in 2015 wrote letters to Colorado’s Congressmen and Senators supporting federal legislation that “protects the Thompson Divide from future leasing” and noted that “Garfield County supports the permanent withdrawal of federal minerals.” As recently as 2017, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky supported introduction of the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act stating: “Garfield County supports this middle-ground compromise that makes the energy companies whole, was developed with input from all sides, and provides a balanced solution to the Thompson Divide leasing issue.”

Coloradans with a deep connection to the land know the importance of commitment, both to the land and to our communities. Ranchers are committed to the long-term stewardship and sustainability of the public lands on which we graze cattle and earn our livelihoods. To maintain our livelihoods, long-term assurances that we won’t be impacted by oil and gas development is critical. It’s a shame and a shock that the Garfield County Commissioners reversed course and ignored their constituents’ efforts and desire to see the Thompson Divide protected.

I’m grateful to see other elected leaders moving forward with legislation to permanently protect the Thompson Divide; our community will remain steadfast in our support for protecting this important place.

Tom Harrington

Garfield County rancher