Letter: Join the effort to protect Thompson Divide | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Join the effort to protect Thompson Divide

With hunting season here, locals and tourists alike are eagerly making their way into our state's incredible backcountry to experience some of the best hunting our nation has to offer. And for those of us in the know, some of the best hunting is on a nearby parcel of public land that is the target of future oil and gas development — Thompson Divide.

Thompson Divide has been identified by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as high-value habitat and critical migration corridor for bears, lynx, moose, deer, elk and mountain lions. For many hunters like I am, it doesn't get better than this.

And the numbers bear that out. Each year, more than 20,000 big-game tags are drawn on game-management units that comprise Thompson Divide. People from across Colorado and the nation choose to hunt in Thompson Divide for the quality habitat and sportsmen opportunities the land provides. They spend money in local grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. In sum, hunting and fishing opportunities in Thompson Divide support nearly 100 jobs and $8.3 million in spending to the local community.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that Thompson Divide will provide the sportsmen opportunities we have come to enjoy and expect. While I'm no tree-hugging hippie, I do believe there are certain places that are inappropriate for energy and gas drilling, and Thompson Divide is one of those places.

Fortunately, there is a coalition of people from all walks of life working to protect Thompson Divide and the livelihoods it supports. Most recently, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall joined the local effort by signing on as cosponsor of Sen. Michael Bennet's middle-road solution that protects private-property rights and keeps the divide the way it is. It's a common-sense solution that sportsmen like I am ought to support.

I'd like to thank Udall for adding another name to an ever-expanding list of influential voices in support of protecting Thompson Divide.

Tyler Stableford

Carbondale