LETTER: Drilling in Thompson Divide is inappropriate
With hunting season here, locals and tourists alike are eagerly making their way into our state’s incredible backcountry to experience some of the best hunting our nation has to offer. And for those of us in the know, some of the best hunting is on a nearby parcel of public land that is the target of future oil and gas development — the Thompson Divide.
The Thompson Divide has been identified by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as high-value habitat and critical migration corridor for bear, lynx, moose, deer, elk and mountain lions. For many hunters like me, it doesn’t get better than this.
And the numbers bear that out. Each year, more than 20,000 big game tags are drawn on game management units that comprise the Thompson Divide. People from across Colorado and the nation choose to hunt in the Thompson Divide for the quality habitat and sportsmen opportunities the land provides. They spend money in local grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. In sum, hunting and fishing opportunities in the Thompson Divide supports nearly 100 jobs and $8.3 million in spending to the local community.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the Thompson Divide will provide the sportsmen opportunities we have come to enjoy and expect. While I’m no tree-hugging hippy, I do believe there are certain places that are inappropriate for oil and gas drilling, and the Thompson Divide is one of those places.
Fortunately, there is a coalition of people from all walks of life working to protect the Thompson Divide and the livelihoods it supports. Most recently, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall joined the local effort by signing on as cosponsor of Sen. Bennet’s middle-road solution that protects private property rights and keeps the divide the way it is. It’s a commonsense solution that sportsmen like me ought to support.
I’d like to thank Sen. Udall for adding another name to an ever-expanding list of influential voices in support of protecting the Thompson Divide.
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