The Thompson Divide

At the height of “Drill Here, Drill Now” fever, the Bureau of Land Management bypassed the required environmental review and notification of local governments, illegally issuing 65 oil and gas leases on Colorado’s Thompson Divide, a sliver of sanctuary between the densely populated Roaring Fork Valley to the east and the heavily drilled Piceance basin to the west.

In August of 2016, after a decade-long battle by farmers, ranchers, conservation groups, the outdoor industry and thousands of committed individuals in the community, the Bureau of Land Management announced its intention to cancel 25 of the leases in the Thompson Divide.  While an important step forward, the remaining leases leave nearly 50,000 acres of pristine forests, meadows and watersheds threatened by the impacts of oil and gas development.

The best long-term protections for the Thompson Divide would come through an act of congress, such as the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, introduced by Senator Michael Bennet.