Around 40 people attended a peaceful protest over the planned drilling of an exploratory well in the controversial Thompson Divide area on Tuesday morning. The event coincided with a site visit by U.S. Forest Service personnel looking to gauge what impacts extraction would have on the land, water, vegetation and wildlife.

Concerned citizens of all stripes including ranchers, hikers, conservationists and others joined members of the media as White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams discussed the process being undertaken by Houston-based energy company SG Interests in its attempt to drill the well.

The area has long been embroiled in a tug-of-war between conservationists who say it is too precious to allow the ravages of extraction, and an industry that owns valid leases allowing the right to drill for subterranean minerals.

Just last week, SG had asked that the Forest Service to close the public road to keep the protestors out of the area during the site visit, but Fitzwilliams turned the request down.

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