September 09, 2021

Neguse Secures Funding to Protect 200,000 Acres in the Thompson Divide in Build Back Better Act

Washington D.C.—Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, announced today that he has successfully included funding to protect 200,000 acres in the Thompson Divide as a provision in the Build Back Better Act. The language he added to the legislative text reported out of the Natural Resources Committee provides $500,000 to acquire leases from willing sellers to protect the Greater Thompson Area from oil and gas development. The language also provides for a methane use pilot program, supported and requested by Garfield County, Gunnison County and Delta County to support the local economy and help tackle climate change. 

Read the legislative text HERE. 

“I’m thrilled to secure a provision in the Build Back Better Act, to provide funds to protect 200,000 acres in the Thompson Divide. This area is one of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes, one I have been working to protect since I first took office. ” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “By withdrawing over 200,000 acres from future oil and gas development, we ensure that future generations can enjoy world-class outdoor recreation opportunities outside Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and we further our efforts to preserve Colorado lands and boost our state’s economy. The effort to protect these areas has been underway for nearly a decade, led by our local Colorado communities, and I’m so grateful to get us one step closer to making them a reality.”

These legislative provisions reflect the wishes of Gunnison, Pitkin, and Garfield Counties, and incorporate the feedback and compromise worked out by local communities over the last decade. 

“Gunnison County has long supported efforts to protect the Thompson Divide and we applaud Representative Neguse for his efforts to pass this into law this year,” said Jonathan D. Houck, Board Chair & Gunnison County Commissioner. “Protecting our public lands is a universally held value among our community and we look forward to working with Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper to ensure protections for Thompson Divide remain in the final budget reconciliation package. It’s time for Congress to act in recognition of the strong local support for the effort to save Thompson Divide.”

“Pitkin County Commissioners have advocated for Thompson Divide withdrawal from mineral leasing for over a decade. We are gratified to see Congressman Neguse’ efforts on our behalf being considered by the Natural Resource Committee and we urge Congress to approve this mineral withdrawal,” said Greg Poschman, Pitkin County Commissioner.

“Permanent withdrawal of the mineral rights on the Thompson Divide has been a long-time goal of Glenwood Springs, along with the other communities in the Roaring Fork Valley.  Thompson Divide is a wild and beautiful place that supports our region's outdoor recreation economy and needs to be protected.  Rep. Neguse's accomplishment is a huge win for Glenwood Springs, our region, and our state!” said Jonathan Godes, Glenwood Springs, CO Mayor.

“The fight to protect the Thompson Divide has really unified our region. Locals from all walks of life—ranchers, outdoor recreationists, sportsmen and women, local governments—we’ve all come together because we saw the importance of protecting this incredible place. I am excited to see the inclusion of Thompson Divide in the budget reconciliation bill and urge Congress to pass this important piece of legislation to help protect this important landscape for our community,” said Dan Richardson, Carbondale, CO Mayor.

“As ranchers whose livelihood depends on public lands in the Thompson Divide, we are very excited to see the mineral withdrawal included in the budget reconciliation bill. To preserve sustainable water, grazing, wildlife, and recreational resources is the way for the future.  For over a decade, local communities in and around the Thompson Divide have collaborated and set aside partisanship to fight against oil and gas development in this area because we understand the tremendous value this landscape holds for our agricultural and rural economies.  We applaud Rep. Joe Neguse for his persistence in helping to preserve the Thompson Divide and urge Congress to act,”  said Judy Fox-Perry, Thompson Divide Coalition.

“The Thompson Divide mineral withdrawal can’t happen soon enough. Our entire community has worked to protect this special place from oil and gas development and we applaud Rep. Neguse’s leadership to ensure its inclusion in the Reconciliation bill. For over a decade, an amazingly diverse group of stakeholders including ranchers, recreationalists, businesses owners and local governments have called on Congress to give them the certainty that the existing economic, ecological and community values in the Thompson Divide will be protected in perpetuity. Now is the time for Congress to act,”  said Will Roush, Wilderness Workshop Executive Director.

 “Mountain bikers who have enjoyed adventures in the mountains and forests of the Thompson Divide are deeply supportive and grateful for the chance of permanently protecting the area for the decades and generations to come.  The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association (RFMBA) is proud to play a stewardship role in the area's trails now and for the years ahead,” said Mike Pritchard, RFMBA Executive Director. 

“For a decade, the communities of Thompson Divide have advocated for permanent protection of these lands. As a father, avid sportsmen and advocate for clean water, this land is truly a special place that is invaluable to our communities.  It’s critical for Congress to act to protect Thompson Divide so that all people can enjoy it now and into the future. Efforts to protect Thompson Divide are just what Western Slope communities have been asking for, and we look forward to working with Congressman Neguse and our Senators to make sure this is the year Thompson Divide is finally protected,” said Gabriel Otero, Colorado Plateau Representative for The Wilderness Society.

“After more than a decade spent working toward protecting the Thompson Divide, Colorado’s hunting and fishing community is thrilled by the prospect of seeing the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act passed as an important provision of the House Reconciliation Bill. The quintessential Colorado landscape that is the Thompson Divide not only sustains vital populations of native trout and an abundance of wildlife, it also supports a robust hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching economy that helps sustain Colorado’s heritage and quality of life. We thank Rep. Neguse and the members of the House Natural Resources Committee for their continued support of this forward-thinking legislation and remain committed to seeing it eventually signed into law,” said Scott Willoughby, Colorado Coordinator for Trout Unlimited’s Sporting Conservation Program.