Paonia environmental group in Washington D.C. fighting to protect North Fork lands

While county governments in the Thompson Divide region are getting behind a concept that would allow gas companies to swap controversial leases in the rugged area for greater development rights elsewhere, an environmental group in the North Fork Valley is calling for caution.

Pitkin County commissioners approved a letter of support Tuesday for the concept of an oil and gas lease swap similar to one proposed earlier this spring by two oil and gas companies. The plan would exchange leases in the Thompson Divide south of Carbondale for new leases to the west and north.

But Chris Seldin, assistant Pitkin County attorney, made it clear that the county would only support a transfer if affected communities were in full support of the move.

“Pitkin County has been very clear from the beginning that it doesn’t want to have our concerns over oil and gas leasing in our county result in the leases being sent to another community that didn’t want the oil and gas leasing to land in their lap,” he said.

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