Activists plan campout at proposed Thompson Divide well site

Staff report

Carbondale’s Wilderness Workshop and the Thompson Divide Coalition are planning a campout next week when the Forest Service visits a proposed natural-gas well site in Thompson Divide.

Last month, SG Interests filed notice of plans to drill an exploratory well on one of its leases within the Wolf Creek gas storage area in the northwestern part of Thompson Divide.

The Forest Service on Sept. 1 will conduct a site visit to evaluate the impact drilling might have on the surrounding area. That means biologists, ecologists, geologists, engineers, recreation planners, grazing experts and other agency staff as well as representatives from SG Interests will visit the proposed well site.

Wilderness Workshop and the Thompson Divide Coalition are organizing a campout at the proposed well site Aug. 31, the night before the site visit. “This will be a wonderful opportunity to get deep into the Thompson Divide and make a clear showing of support,” the workshop said.

“On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 1, we will gather at the site to greet the Forest Service and industry before they begin the site visit. The media, the BLM, the Forest Service, industry and our members of Congress will all be watching this development. It is crucial they all understand how much our community values the Thompson Divide and does not want to see any drilling there,” Wilderness Workshop said in an invitation emailed Wednesday.

The announcement vowed that the group will be “very respectful of them and the Forest Service. We’ll be there to show how special this place is and how much it matters to us, but not to disrupt the site visit.”

SG has filed a so-called “notice of staking” with the Bureau of Land Management for the well.

“A notice of staking is the first step in submitting an application for permit to drill an oil and gas well,” BLM spokesman David Boyd told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent last month.

The lease in question is not part of the BLM’s ongoing environmental re-analysis of 64 leases, including those in Thompson Divide and farther west on the White River National Forest, for which an Environmental Impact Statement is expected this fall. The area in question is not far from Sunlight Mountain Resort near where the Pitkin, Garfield and Mesa county lines come together south of Glenwood Springs.

The proposal reopens a controversial plan to use Glenwood Springs streets and Four Mile Road as a truck route to reach the site, something Garfield County commissioners oppose.

The Wilderness Workshop calls proposed well site “a beautiful and remote area of the Thompson Divide … near the headwaters of the Divide Creek Drainage and Middle Thompson Creek. It is located in prime cattle grazing country and is perfect for backcountry hunting; in fact, there is an established hunting camp only a few yards away. Simply put, allowing drill rigs and industrial development in the area is too great a risk.”


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