LETTER: Tell the BLM to void the leases in the Thompson Divide | PostIndependent.com

LETTER: Tell the BLM to void the leases in the Thompson Divide

BLM must have their calendars mixed up because they thought April 1 was Groundhog Day and not April Fool’s.

In a mirror image of a year ago, BLM decided to kick the proverbial can down the road and extended illegal leases in the Thompson Divide … again.

Instead of allowing the leases to simply expire, BLM admitted they illegally leased the Thompson Divide and launched a formal process that can and should result in the cancellation of the leases.

April 2 was the beginning of the public comment process. BLM is asking the public to formally weigh in regarding future drilling in the Thompson Divide. Step up and submit your comment to BLM. Tell them to void the leases in the Thompson Divide for the following reasons:

• According to independent economic analysis, existing uses — hunting, ranching, fishing and outdoor recreation — in the Thompson Divide area support nearly 300 jobs and produce $30 million in annual economic impacts for the rural communities that surround the Divide.

• This undisturbed area of backcountry provides clean water to more than 15 different watersheds in the region. These include tributaries of the Crystal, Gunnison and Colorado rivers, and gold medal trout waters on the Roaring Fork River.

• The area has been recognized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as high-value habitat for a variety of species, is a crucial elk winter and summer range migration route and calving ground, and overlaps with some of the richest game-management units in the state. Game Management Units 42, 43 and 521 generate more than 20,000 big game hunting licenses every year and makes the area invaluable to Colorado and national sportsmen.

• The Thompson Divide is popular amongst all manner of outdoor enthusiasts who use the area. Our communities are economically supported by tourism based on these activities and by the stores, restaurants, lodges and other businesses that rely on these outdoor activities.

• Independent, peer-reviewed geologic and economic analysis finds “little to no economic viability” for drilling in the Thompson Divide. Simply put, there’s a reason these leases sold for as little as $2 per acre. Drilling in Thompson Divide is a risky bet, at best. Unfortunately, it will be our hunters, ranchers and our vibrant rural economy left holding the bag when that bet goes bad.

Please contact the BLM today. Tell them to cancel the leases once and for all. Submit your comment to WRNFleases@blm.gov or mail them to U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652.

Richard Votterro


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