The following letter to the editor by Colorado BHA Habitat Watchmen, Adam Gall recently appeared appeared in the Grand Junction Journal Sentinel 4/11/13. An original version of the letter can be accessed here.
Thompson Divide drilling would hurt hunters, others
As a sportsman, I was encouraged to read that Rep. Scott Tipton is open to supporting legislation preserving some of the best hunting grounds and wildlife habitat in Colorado.
Hunting is a way of life for me, and I see it as a major contributor to our local economy. I’ve met hunters who have traveled far and wide to hunt our lands, stay in our motels and shop in our local stores. Here in Delta County we’re fortunate to have some of the best big-game hunting in Colorado.
Game Management Units 42, 43 and 521 provide more than 20,000 licenses annually for mule deer, elk, bear and mountain lion. These units converge at the Mesa, Gunnison and Pitkin county lines – the heart of what is known as the Thompson Divide.
Not only is the area prime hunting territory, but it also serves as critical range and calving ground for elk and supports our larger tourism-based economy. Local outfitters rely on this land to maintain a livelihood. They’ve opened up a business that relies on the habitat within the divide and with the expectation it will remain that way.
Drilling on the Thompson Divide will put this pristine land at risk. It has the potential to disrupt migration corridors and reduce wildlife populations, which will drastically impact many outfitters who depend on this land for their livelihoods.
This isn’t an argument against development everywhere. I believe in a responsible and balanced approach towards energy production. But, when it comes to domestic energy production, the Western Slope, especially Garfield County, is doing its fair share.
Protecting the Thompson Divide is about balance. By signing on to legislation supporting a middle-of-the-road approach to protecting this pristine area, Rep. Tipton would signal that he is truly on everyone’s side.