Carbondale, CO –Trout Unlimited and Sportsmen for Thompson Divide praised a negotiated compromise reached by stakeholders of the Thompson Divide area that allows Gunnison Energy LLC (GELLC) to continue operating working leases in the area while protecting critical fisheries habitat and watersheds in Gunnison County’s Clear Fork Roadless Area. The deal was approved by GELLC, the Thompson Divide Coalition (TDC), Senator Michael Bennet’s office, conservation groups and officials in Gunnison County. As part of the deal, GELLC now supports Sen. Bennet’s Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, which would prohibit future oil and gas leasing in the area and create a market for willing buyers and sellers to retire existing leases.
“The Thompson Divide area contains some of the best trout streams and hunting grounds left in Colorado. We applaud Gunnison Energy, Senator Bennet, and everyone involved for listening to sportsmens’ concerns and working together in the spirit of compromise,” said Shane Cross, Western energy counsel for Trout Unlimited. “It’s a good day for the tens of thousands of hunters and anglers that rely on the Thompson Divide for incredible outdoor opportunities.”
At the center of the negotiations was where to draw the southern boundary under Sen. Bennet’s legislative proposal. In a letter to Sen. Bennet, Gunnison Energy President Brad Robinson expressed support for the compromise agreement and revised boundaries. “GELLC is concerned that merely having gas operations within the TDC area boundary will lead to permitting delays and increased environmental compliance costs.” He added, “With the change in boundary and the assurances I have received concerning our continued normal operations in this area, I support passage of the Act.”
The Thompson Divide is one of most pristine, high-value wildlife areas in the lower 48. The Divide’s vast and roadless backcountry harbors elk, deer and other big game and clear, cool cutthroat streams, making it an outdoor paradise for sportsmen and recreationists of all kinds. Preserving the Thompson Divide watershed is important to the outdoor-based economy of the area. Collectively, hunting, fishing, ranching, and recreation in the Thompson Divide area support nearly 300 jobs and $30 million in annual economic output for local communities.