In late May 2012, students from Colorado Rocky Mountain School took part in an EcoFlight Kestrel Program on oil and gas development as part of their AP Environmental Science studies.
Students flew over the Thompson Divide area to see for themselves where drilling is proposed. The Thompson Divide offers the local ranching community a way of life, recreation opportunities to support the local tourism industry, provides clean air and water, and is home to important wildlife habitat and migration corridors.
Much of the land west of the Crystal River and north of McClure Pass has already been leased to natural gas drilling, with 81 leases covering approximately 105,000 acres.
Then we flew out toward the Roan Plateau to see where energy development is taking place. Already over half of the Roan Plateau Planning Area is either owned outright or leased by oil and gas companies, and intensive oil and gas development is already taking place at the base and on the western one-third of the top of the plateau.
The Thompson Divide Coalition, an advocacy group aiming to block drilling on the local leases, is working to protect the area from oil and gas exploration and production and to permanently withdraw the Thompson Divide area from availability for future leasing. The coalition recently offered the leaseholders a settlement to buy back the leases and retire them for good. They are still waiting for a response.
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