TU praises BLM for protecting Thompson Divide

Fri, 07/29/2016

July 29, 2016

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tyler Baskfield, tbaskfield@tu.org, 720 530-9896


TU praises BLM for protecting Thompson Divide

Cancellation of oil and gas leases a ‘victory for sportsmen’ and CO wildlife

(Carbondale, CO)—Trout Unlimited today praised a Bureau of Land Management decision to cancel 25 oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide, a pristine backcountry area west of Carbondale, as part of the agency’s Final Environmental Impact Statement in the White River National Forest.

Trout Unlimited called the decision a “victory for sportsmen and for Colorado’s outdoors quality of life.”

The Thompson Divide—a vast, 220,000-acre sportsmen’s paradise—contains some of the most productive wildlife habitat in the lower 48 and provides tens of thousands of big game hunters and anglers a place to recreate every year. The Divide’s streams also offer state-designated “outstanding waters” that support healthy populations of native cutthroat trout and produce the headwaters for several of Colorado’s most popular fisheries, including the Roaring Fork River and the North Fork of the Gunnison River.    

The oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide have been a source of controversy for more than a decade.  TU has worked with industry and other stakeholders to find solutions that allow responsible energy development while protecting the Divide’s priceless wildlife resources.

 “It is critical that the BLM’s decision to cancel the leases in the Thompson Divide stays on track,” said Tyler Baskfield, Colorado sportsmen coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “We are pleased that the BLM recognizes the value of a pristine Thompson Divide for sportsmen and the Roaring Fork Valley community.”

Baskfield noted that preserving the Thompson Divide watershed is important to the outdoor-based economy of the area. Collectively, hunting, fishing, ranching, and recreation in the Thompson Divide area support nearly 300 jobs and $30 million in annual economic output for local communities.

While praising the lease cancellations, TU urged changes to a section of the BLM’s Final Environmental Impact Statement pertaining to leases outside of the Thompson Divide in the neighboring East Willow, Mamm Peak and Battlement Mesa areas of the White River National Forest. These areas also contain native cutthroat populations and have unique roadless qualities that make them critical to sportsmen and wildlife.

Unfortunately, the BLM’s Final Environmental Impact Statement removes the important stipulations in the draft EIS designed to protect the wildlife and recreational value of these lands outside the Divide.

“The BLM’s decision to cancel the 25 leases in the Thompson Divide will help to ensure that the Divide remains  pristine and continue to bolster the local economies surrounding it by providing an incredible place for future generations of sportsmen to recreate,” said Baskfield. “It is our hope that the BLM will strike the right balance for industry and sportsmen by implementing the proposed stipulations in the draft EIS that protect the unique wildlife resources on the adjacent leases.”    

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Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with 147,000 members nationwide dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. Colorado Trout Unlimited has 24 chapters and more than 10,000 members in the state. 


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