Study could lead to protection of Colorado’s Thompson Divide

Dec 11, 2023

A draft environmental assessment released by the U.S. Forest Service on Friday recommends moving forward with a withdrawal of nearly 225,000 acres from future oil and gas development and mining in the Thompson Divide in Colorado. The proposed 20-year mineral withdrawal would prevent new mining or oil and gas activity in the area. It will not impact existing active leases within the withdrawal boundaries. The withdrawal is supported by a coalition of ranchers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and environmentalists that has been advocating for limiting extractive activities in the Thompson Divide area for over a decade. As part of the environmental assessment, over 73,500 comments were submitted in support of a mineral withdrawal in the Thompson Divide.

“We are very excited to see the Forest Service moving ahead with the proposed 20-year mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide and we are hopeful the agency will act quickly to finalize these important protections that our community has requested for many years,” said Will Roush, executive director of Wilderness Workshop. “The Thompson Divide is a special place for people and communities not just on the Western Slope, but across Colorado. The breadth and depth of support for long-term protection of the Divide is incredibly inspiring and the draft EA released today directly reflects that.”

The Biden administration proposed the Thompson Divide withdrawal last fall alongside its announcement of Camp Hale National Monument. This environmental assessment is a required step for the Department of the Interior to establish a mineral withdrawal. Although many commenters on the draft expressed a desire for a permanent withdrawal, the Interior secretary can only establish mineral withdrawals for a maximum of 20 years on properties larger than 5,000 acres. Implementing a permanent withdrawal would require an act of Congress.

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will host a virtual public meeting on December 18 about the Thompson Divide withdrawal application. The Forest Service is accepting comments on the draft environmental assessment through January 8.

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Quote of the day

It’s not normal. We don’t always see green geysers shooting out of the ground down the road from me.”

—Michelle Babb, Weld County resident on nearby failed oil well plug, 9News

 

Picture This

squirrel licking branch

@usinterior

This little guy must have been triple-dog dared to lick it.

‘Stuck! Stuck! Stuuuuuck!’

Abert’s squirrels have quite the sweet tooth. In the spring, these cuties with big tufted ears cling to the sides of boxelder trees, licking the bark and the gooey sap with their tongues.

Photos at @bandeliernps by Sally King

#squirrel #wildlife #bandeliernationalmonument