KAJX

Thompson Divide Coalition shifts to supporting BLM decision

Dec 23, 2015

Looking out over the Thompson Divide.
Credit EcoFlight

  The Thompson Divide Coalition is adjusting its course. The nonprofit is shifting from crafting legislation to supporting a pending BLM decision.

The Carbondale-based Coalition has spent years trying to negotiate a swap to prevent oil and gas leases from being developed. They’re on public land west of Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Executive Director Zane Kessler says his organization is now focusing on advocating for a particular BLM option to cancel some or all of 25 leases. “Which would really get us as close as ever to our goal for conservation of those lands,” he explained on Wednesday.

Kessler says the legislative approach has been at an impasse after an editorial by Republican Congressman Scott Tipton this fall. The US Representative for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional district says he’s against permanently withdrawing leases from development.

The BLM proposal was unveiled in November as part of a range of options for managing leases in the Thompson Divide area. The option to cancel all or some of the leases has received strong support at public meetings and several officials in the Roaring Fork Valley.  The oil and gas industry has said it’s unfair and unwise to permanently remove leases from development