Letter: Tipton should support permanent protection of Thompson Divide
I am urging Rep. Scott Tipton to act upon his initial openness to sponsoring legislation that would permanently protect the Thompson Divide and the vibrant ranching, farming, and sportsmen industries the land supports.
Sen. Michael Bennett has introduced legislation in the Senate, called the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act of 2013, but a bill needs to pass both houses of Congress for the sale to proceed. The leases within the Thompson Divide represent less than 1 percent of active leases in Colorado, yet 99 percent of the Thompson Divide is productive agricultural lands and pristine national forest. Given how small a share the area would contribute to energy development, and given how it already supports 300 jobs and $30 million in economic revenue in ranching, hunting, recreation and other such sustainable activities, it makes no sense to exploit the area for natural gas with its accompanying incursion of roads, drilling platforms, storage tanks, pipelines and truck traffic.
Yet Rep. Tipton may not ultimately take action unless he hears from the majority of residents in Garfield, Gunnison and Pitkin counties in favor of preservation. Sen. Bennet’s common-sense legislation presents a win-win solution for all which avoids the acrimony of typical conflicts over energy development. Please urge Rep. Tipton to follow up on his early receptivity and to sponsor a bill to expedite this sensible compromise that upholds the companies’ financial stake, respects the way of life of those living and working on the Divide and protects the area now and for future generations.
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