U.S. Forest Service to release draft Thompson Divide withdrawal EA

Includes protections for Mt. Emmons

By Katherine Nettles

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is close to releasing the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the requested Thompson Divide mineral withdrawal for public comment. The USFS plans to host a public virtual information meeting soon after the EA is released, perhaps in the next week.

Under the proposed Thompson Divide Withdrawal, the USFS has requested 224,704 acres of National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands be “withdrawn from all forms of entry, appropriation and disposal under the public land laws, mining laws, and mineral and geothermal leasing laws, subject to valid existing rights.” This means nearly a quarter-million acres would no longer be eligible for mining, oil and gas extraction for a period of 20 years. 

This includes areas across the Gunnison Ranger District, Paonia Ranger District, western Aspen Ranger District and western Sopris Ranger District, and notably includes protection for Mt. Emmons, aka Red Lady, above the town of Crested Butte.

The Department of the Interior announced the proposal to conserve the Thompson Divide area in October 2022, and after a public comment period last spring, has been conducting an environmental assessment according to the National Environmental Protection Act process requirements.  

A map of the proposed area can be found at https://www.blm.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2022-10/Thompson%20Divide%20Map.pdf and the proposal process documents can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=6367.

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