We have great news to share today! On March 1 Senator Michael Bennet introduced the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act of 2017 to protect more than 172,000 acres in Gunnison, Pitkin and Garfield Counties from the possibility of future mineral leasing. Included in the withdrawal area are the beautiful lands around Kebler Pass and the Highway 133 corridor. We’re excited and thankful here at High Country Conservation Advocates for this proactive, conservation-focused bill.
What’s Special About this Bill?
• The Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act would permanently protect a prized and threatened landscape of diverse public lands. Precluding future leasing in the withdrawal area would ensure that wildlife, recreation and historic ranching thrive into the future.
• It reflects years of hard work, collaboration and community engagement between Sen. Bennet and local stakeholders. It has the support of Gunnison, Pitkin and Garfield Counties, conservation groups, local ranchers, and even Gunnison Energy.
• The withdrawal area has been expanded significantly in Gunnison County, and now includes a vast landscape surrounding the northern and western aspects of the West Elk Wilderness, and the entire western and southern borders of the Raggeds Wilderness. These areas are near and dear to Gunnison County residents and visitors, and contain outstanding wildlife habitat and opportunities for sustainable recreation.
• Subject to valid existing rights, the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Area would be withdrawn from all forms of disposal, mining and mineral leasing.
• The bill also contains a provision that would create a program to lease and generate energy from excess methane in existing and abandoned coal mines in the North Fork Valley.
What Can You Do Now?
Please take a moment to thank Sen. Bennet ((303) 455-7600) for introducing this legislation. Please also call Sen. Gardner ((303) 391-5777) and urge him to support the bill. You can also track the progress of the bill by following this link.
The Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act of 2017 is a bright spot amidst a recent barrage of anti-public lands legislative proposals. Thank you Sen. Bennet!