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October 16, 2012
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Support protection of Thompson Divide

Dear Editor:

As part of our mission statement to promote conservation, the Roaring Fork Audubon Society has an incredible opportunity to help preserve vital habitat for birds and mammals, and as a recreation area for people to enjoy - the Thompson Divide. This is not political. This is fighting for our community, our water, our backyard recreation and our animals - especially our native birds, whose numbers are decreasing by frightening amounts, partially due to loss of good habitat.

The Thompson Divide has always been one of our favorite areas for taking beginning birders on field trips because of the abundance of birds - migrant and year-round - that are able to breed in the undisturbed areas of pinon, juniper and sage.

This peaceful backyard of ours is under immediate threat from gas development. This could happen very soon. The gas claims are already being staked. There are over 221,550 acres of federal land - in Pitkin County (88,100), Gunnison County (51,000 acres), Garfield County (43,500), Mesa County (30,500) and Delta County (7,700). There are currently 81 leases in the area covering approximately 105,000 acres. Half of the leases are in roadless areas and do not contain surface stipulations.

There is no doubt that fracking will pollute the water supply for Carbondale, and the development infrastructure will impact the already busy Highway 133. (Do we really want big oil trucks rumbling down our roads?) Garfield County ambient air studies done near natural gas development activities show several hazardous air pollutants and conclude that residents living close to this exposure "will most likely be affected." The amount of oil in these leases does not justify the destruction to our town.

The Thompson Divide Coalition, (, is seeking federal legislation to permanently withdraw the area from availability for future leasing, and is working with current leaseholders to buy out their leases. Please help them.

The Thompson Divide Coalition is looking for businesses and organizations to join them by adding their names to a newspaper ad. Contact them now at or

Please join our birders, ranchers, hunters and recreationists to protect this area!

Our senators have asked for public comment before they make their decision. We must act now. Write, call and ask your friends to do the same.

Senator Michael Bennet: bennet." target="_blank">class="NormalParagraphStyle">; 970-241-6631; 225 N. St. Suite 511, Grand Junction, CO 81501.

Senator Mark Udall: markudall." target="_blank">class="NormalParagraphStyle">; 970-245-9553; 400 Rood Ave. Suite 220, Grand Junction, CO 81501.

Mary Harris


Roaring Fork Audubon Society

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The Aspen Times Updated Oct 16, 2012 05:22PM Published Oct 16, 2012 05:22PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.