Congressman John T. Salazar met this morning with the Thompson Divide Coalition and local elected officials and announced his intent to draft legislation to protect the Thompson Divide land and water resources.
John made the following remarks at this morning's meeting:
"I want to applaud you for all your hard work over the years. Ranching is my passion. And I will always stand with my fellow ranchers. I suggest we begin the process of drafting legislation with the understanding the bill won't likely be done until next Congress. We'll work together to get a hearing scheduled out here so Members of Congress can see firsthand the value of protecting this water and land. You have done everything I asked. You got all the stakeholders on board, gathered community support, and the support of Gunnison, Pitkin and Garfield Counties. I've heard from countless local ranchers concerned over the quality of water and their ability to sustain their operation. These areas are at the very top of the watershed and thousands of downstream water users and ranching operations depend on these precious water resources for their survival. This is the beginning of the next chapter in our shared effort and working together I am confident we will be successful."
The area of interest lies between the Grand and Battlement Mesas and the main stem of the Rocky Mountains and would protect key watersheds used by residents and ranchers of the Crystal and Roaring Fork Valleys. These are some of the most popular hunting and fishing lands in Colorado as well as snowmobiling, mountain and motor biking, horseback riding, and backcountry skiing.
At Sunday's meeting, John listed to their proposals and signaled his intent to work with them to introduce legislation in the 112th Congress. John's goal through legislation will be to protect the local water and land by allowing existing natural gas and oil leases to expire without renewal. The Coalition also plans to work with the oil and gas industry to purchase some leases for key parcels they are concerned with protecting.
Jock Jacober, President of the Thompson Divide Coalition, offered the following remarks at today's meeting:
"We're absolutely thrilled. Thompson Divide Coalition has been working on this for several years now and the fact that John Salazar took time from his busy schedule to come forward and meet with all the constituents from our area, the board of Thompson Divide, John Martin, Dorthea Farris, and George Newman just shows level of generosity and concern that Congressman Salazar has for the area and we're thrilled this process is moving forward."
Jock can be reached at 970-319-8962 for additional comments.
The County Commissions from Garfield, Gunnison and Pitkin Counties have asked John to work with them on legislation. The effort has also been endorsed by the City of Aspen, Aspen Valley Land Trust, Town of Carbondale, Colorado Mountain Club, Crystal Valley Enviromental Protection Association, Ferdinand Hayden Chapter of Trout Unlimited, City of Glenwood Springs, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Mount Sopris Nordic Council, North Thompson Cattle Association, Redstone Community Association, Roaring Fork Audubon Society, Roaring Fork Group of the Sierra Club, Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway, and the Wilderness Workshop.