March 18, 2013
Gas and Oil Drilling: Prime CO Trout Watersheds Under Threat
By Tim Romano
I recently asked for your help saving my beloved Colorado River, now I need to tell you about a situation in the area known as the Thompson Divide just west of Aspen, CO. The home to some pristine Colorado River Cutthroat Trout watersheds, as well as one of the most productive elk habitats in the state, is under threat from oil and gas interests that want to drill in the area. As you can see on the map above, the industry is creeping closer and closer.
Our own governor says this is a bad idea, but really has no authority to stop it as the BLM (a federal agency) issues the permits to drill there.
- A few facts about the area know as the Thompson Divide:
- There are nearly a dozen conservation populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout in the area.
- Several of the recent Applications for Permit to Drill are right in the heart of the very best of these trout populations (Middle Thompson Creek). “Middle Thompson Creek is especially noteworthy because of the large, isolated population that exists without invasive non-native trout near Middle Thompson Park.
- The Thompson Divide contains tributaries to the North Fork of the Gunnison River, the Crystal River, the Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River. A vast majority of the Thompson drains into the Roaring Fork (Gold Medal water).
- It contains 3 of the premier big game hunting units in the state (42, 43, 521). Over 5000 tags are sold each year for these units, not including unlimited bull licenses, which likely put the number near 10,000.
Now, here's how you can help.
Colorado's Senator Bennet unveiled the “Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act” but he has not yet introduced it. The powers that be are trying to get him to introduce it by sending him letters and emails. His address is: 458 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510, and one can email him here. You can view the bill in it's entirety here (it's short - just read it).