Eighteen oil and gas leases and parts of seven others in the Thompson Divide area south of Glenwood Springs would be canceled under a much-anticipated draft environmental analysis of 65 existing leases on the White River National Forest that was released by the Bureau of Land Management this morning.

The BLM’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement is now open for a 49-day public comment period that begins Friday and continues until Jan. 8. The EIS presents five alternatives for the public to comment on, ranging from no changes to the 65 existing leases to canceling them entirely.

The BLM’s proposed action (Alternative 4) tracks a decision earlier this year by White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams regarding areas of the forest that will be open or closed to gas leasing over the next 20 years. The leasing management plan closed the Thompson Divide area to future leasing during that period of time.

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