March 2013-Thompson Divide

Mar 5, 2013

Captain's Log 1XE, Day 27 in the month of February in the Earth Calendar Year of 2013.

Big doings going on. I know you have read about this issue before but things are coming to a head here in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado.

A beautiful blue bird Colorado winter day with mares' tails high in the stratosphere  (usually a precursor of weather a-coming) with the NY Times aboard looking at the Thompson Divide from above. This iconic landscape has a smattering of gas leases that threaten to fragment and totally change the nature of this wild and mostly pristine area. Comprised of some of the last roadless areas in the state, and home to bear, lynx, elk and deer, the Thompson Divide contains a forest that is as healthy as I have seen of late without the dull reds of dying trees caused by the ubiquitous pine beetle infestation.

From the air it is abundantly clear how this landscape of the Divide literally marks the separation between the heavily industrialized drilled and roaded area just over the Divide, around Rifle, and the world class recreation center of the Roaring Fork Valley and Aspen, and how important it is to keep that industrialization from advancing into the Divide and valley.

But I digress, there I was at a meeting in Denver, rapt attention being given to keynote speaker Governor Bill Ritter, who delivered a terrific presentation about how he was constantly mugged in the press by the oil and gas community but continued to do what he felt was right and stand up to them. By this he meant continue to institute a balanced approach to the energy industry. He stated it wasn't conservation ideology but conservation theology that kept him keeping on. Funny and profound. He was talking about listening to the wishes of the public and acting accordingly....What a concept for a politician!

So when a buzzing occurred in my sport jacket pocket I quickly swatted at it thinking it was some kind of bug irritant. Oh right, the "silenced cell phone".  As the chocolate dessert arrived I glanced at the text (yes, I am now a certified texter, instead of just being certified), and saw that we were needed to fly the NY Times early tomorrow over Thompson Divide. Foregoing the merlot and chocolate we hustled home for an early night and an early departure.

At a community meeting that very same evening for the Thompson Divide were 300-plus local residents from Carbondale. Standing room only, they were advocating to keep their local environment and economy healthy and sustainable. Lea Linse, a local high schooler and participant of many of EcoFlight's student programs, received a standing ovation for her impassioned and thoughtful speech. Flight Across America (FLAA) is EcoFlight's signature student program and was instituted in the memory of my late friend John Denver. It educates students on the conservation challenges of the day through overflights and round table seminars. FLAA students are empowered to have a voice for the issue, to engage with the presenters, and to become activists for what they believe in. Our goal in this program is to inspire a conservation ethic and to produce a new generation of leaders.

Lea learned the FLAA lessons well as you will tell from this clip of her speech.



These are not simple issues but ones where you must be educated and you must advocate for what you believe. EcoFlight and I are not against oil and gas drilling but feel strongly that it can and must be done properly. And there are some places where it simply should not even be considered.... the Thompson Divide is one of those places.




Bruce Gordon.