Garfield County commissioners support draft, and encourage a compromise

Concerned residents of the North Fork Valley made the pilgrimage to Garfield County on Wednesday to voice their opposition to a draft bill being championed by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton that proposes a land swap in the Thompson Divide.

Tipton has not yet officially introduced the Western Colorado Lease Exchange and Conservation Act of 2016, but it has already raised the hackles of many conservationists, who are calling it a handout to the oil and gas industry.

The legislation seeks to swap more than 30,000 acres of public land in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison national forests for equal acreage in the Thompson Divide near Carbondale. The leases in question are owned by Houston-based oil-and-gas companies SG Interests and Ursa Piceance LLC.

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