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Aspen Public Radio news keeps you up to date with the latest information on the environment. From the debate over gas/oil drilling in the valley to water and wildlife - you will find our on-going commitment to those stories here.

Thompson Divide leases canceled


U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Gov. John Hickenlooper at the state capitol Thursday to announce a decision that protects the Thompson Divide, but leaves other areas open to drilling.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) terminated 25 leases in the Thompson Divide and closed the majority of that area to future oil and gas exploration. Gov. Hickenlooper said this decision protects one of Colorado’s “sacred places.”

“As our population grows, we’re not going to get a second chance to set aside these most important places, and I think Thompson Divide rode right to the top as a place that we want to make sure that it is protected,” Hickenlooper said.   

The BLM decision addresses 65 oil and gas leases in the White River National Forest.

Wilderness Workshop, Conservation Colorado and other environmental groups applauded the preservation of Thompson Divide, but said the resolution does not do enough to protect other areas, including Battlement Mesa and Mamm Peak.

Secretary Jewell said the BLM has found a compromise that reflects Colorado’s values.

“This is a state that understands the ability to have balance between the extraction of our resources and the preservation of those resources,” Jewell said. “This is a state that takes the long view.”

Representatives from the oil and gas industry issued statements calling the decision “punitive.” David Ludlam of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association said his organization will work with the incoming Trump administration to determine the next steps.


Listen to the full press conference with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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