Creek Through Contested Thompson Divide Gets Additional Protections

Jun 12, 2014

The headwaters of the south branch of the middle Thompson Creek are pictured here. This stretch of water received an "Outstanding Waters" designation from the state.
The headwaters of the south branch of the middle Thompson Creek are pictured here. This stretch of water received an "Outstanding Waters" designation from the state.
Credit Colorado Trout Unlimited

The Thompson Creek watershed that flows through the contested Thompson Divide area, received a special designation this week. On Tuesday, the state’s Water Quality Control Commission approved an “Outstanding Waters” designation for several branches of Thompson Creek, near Carbondale.

Cutthroat trout is why Trout Unlimited fought to get the Thompson Creek watershed designated as "Outstanding Waters."
Cutthroat trout is why Trout Unlimited fought to get the Thompson Creek watershed designated as "Outstanding Waters."
Credit Trout Unlimited

To win approval the stream has to meet several high quality standards and, the designation prohibits certain pollutants from being discharged into the water. Aaron Kindle is with Colorado Trout Unlimited, which fought for the designation. He says it protects fish.

"Cutthroat trout have been dwindled down to about 10 percent of their native range, so the populations that do exist are pretty critical and those creeks up there are really critical for cutthroat trout."

The protected creek runs through an area where energy companies would like to drill for natural gas. The gas leases are currently at a stand-still while the Bureau of Land Management does a review. Kindle says Trout Unlimited had discussions with the oil and gas companies and he says they neither supported nor disapproved of the new designation.