Agreement cuts East Divide land out of protected Thompson Divide boundary

Garfield County commissioners on Monday signed off on a letter of support for the permanent withdrawal of federal mineral leasing in almost 40,000 acres of the Thompson Divide. In the agreement, some 4,500 acres in the East Divide area were cut out of a proposed protected boundary.

The compromise is part of a larger effort to swap extraction leases out of Thompson Divide. It would allow Houston-based oil and gas company SG Interests to acquire some 30,000 acres in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests in exchange for withdrawing leases in the Thompson Divide area in both Pitkin and Garfield counties.

Zane Kessler, executive director for the Carbondale-based Thompson Divide Coalition, said these federal lands support outdoor recreation, which is vital to the local economy. He noted that while the compromise isn’t perfect, he also recognizes that it’s not “a zero-sum game.”

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