The Bureau of Land Management issued a draft plan Thursday that would cancel 18 oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide, which spans 15 different watersheds in western Colorado.
The move was included in a larger assessment by the BLM on previously issued oil and gas leases in the White River National Forest. For the nonprofit Thompson Divide Coalition, it’s a huge step after years of building a group of stakeholders--ranging from Garfield County commissioners to local ranchers.
“There are certain places that are inappropriate for development and we believe that the Thompson Divide is one of those places," said Zane Kessler, executive director of the Thompson Divide Coalition.
The idea has seen opposition from the oil and gas leaseholders and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton. A final environmental plan by the BLM is expected next year.