More than a dozen years ago, an unusual coalition of ranchers, outdoorsmen, recreationists, local government leaders and environmentalists banded together to try to prevent oil and gas development in the Thompson Divide area.
The Thompson Divide Coalition has had success, ultimately convincing federal land managers to cancel some two dozen leases in the sprawling backcountry south of Glenwood Springs and west of Carbondale that were issued without adequate impact reviews.
The coalition’s grassroots influence also helped sway a U.S. Forest Service decision in 2015 to place the lands off limits to new oil and gas leases for at least the next two decades.
What hasn’t happened, yet, is for the powers that be, both in Garfield County and in Washington, D.C., to get behind some reasonable way to place permanent protections on those lands.
The latest attempt by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado to do that — as part of the comprehensive Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE) Act — is worthy of that broad-based political support.