Letter: Respecting the land | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Respecting the land

Respecting the land

I write today to thank the Forest Service for their recent decision to close the majority of the Thompson Divide area to future leasing. This decision recognizes that existing surface uses in this area are important to our local economy and to our way of life on the Western Slope. I urge the Bureau of Land Management to follow the Forest Service’s lead by canceling undeveloped, improperly issued leases in the Divide.

My business, Crystal River Meats, has been family owned and operated in Carbondale since 1999. Everything we do occurs within a 200-mile radius of Carbondale and the vast majority of our operations occur within the Roaring Fork Valley. The true quality of our meats, however, comes from the abundant clean water and undisturbed grazing allotments within the Thompson Divide.

However, it’s not just my operation that depends on these lands. Dozens of thriving ranches in our valley rely on federal grazing allotments in the Thompson Divide. These operations support long-term, sustainable jobs in the area, and help to form a strong, diverse economic base for our rural economy. Indeed, independent analysis has found that grazing activities in the Thompson Divide support some 65 total jobs and $11.3 million in annual economic value for our communities.

Oil and gas development in the Thompson Divide threatens a delicate balance we need to maintain on our grazing areas in the forest. Drilling and traffic from the development of pipelines and infrastructure, especially new road construction, would disrupt this balance. Increased sedimentation and runoff from new roads and near-constant truck traffic could also damage the health of the watersheds on which our cattle depend. Simply put, this is not the right area for industrial development.

Again, thank you to the U.S. Forest Service for listening to our concerns. The BLM should follow suit.

Tai Jacober

Owner, Crystal River Meats