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Pitkin County supports proposed oil, gas lease exchange in Thompson Divide

Marci Krivonen

Pitkin County elected leaders are sending a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation, urging them to support an effort that would preserve the Thompson Divide. One county staffer calls it “the most promising proposal to date.”

For years Pitkin County has fought potential natural gas development in the Divide. It’s an area west of the Crystal River and north of McClure Pass. Two companies own leases there and in April they proposed giving them up. In exchange, Ursa Resources and SG Interests are asking for leases in other western slope counties. Assistant County Attorney Chris Seldin:

"Pitkin County has been very clear from the beginning that we didn’t want to have our concerns over oil and gas leasing in our county result in the leases being sent to another community that didn’t want the oil and gas leasing land in their lap."

Because the other counties involved have endorsed the proposal, Pitkin County is now doing the same. Commissioner Patti Clapper.

"I really believe that Pitkin County has been very consistent and diligent in our pursuit of resolving this matter. I think the letter is well written and, in a timely manner, we need to move it forward."

The exchange needs an act of congress and the president’s signature. It’s an uncertain process that could take significant time. Two advocacy organizations, the Wilderness Workshop and the Thompson Divide Coalition, are also supporting the proposed exchange.