Tell Sen. Bennet that You Support the Thompson Divide Bill!

Senator Michael Bennet has released a discussion draft bill (available online here) that would permanently protect much of the Thompson Divide from oil and gas leasing. This area includes the Muddy Creek basin – the headwaters of the Paonia Reservoir and the North Fork of the Gunnison River.

The industry is already hammering the Senator for this proposal.

Please take a moment to thank Sen. Bennet for his leadership and his efforts to protect this vital area by visiting the Senator’s web site:  

The draft proposal would protect about 183,000 acres from future oil and gas leasing. To be clear, the bill would prevent any future leasing, butleaves existing leases intact, as the Thompson Divide Coalition continues to work with existing leaseholders to negotiate the purchase of mineral rights.

The Thompson Divide Coalition asked for protection of the headwaters of the Muddy Creeks and other streams, in Delta and Gunnison Counties, that feed into the Paonia Reservoir. However, the draft bill does not include land in Delta County, which leaves portions of the West Muddy Creek, Little Muddy Creek, and Clear Fork of East Muddy Creek still vulnerable.

Ask Sen. Bennet to protect the headwaters of the Paonia Reservoir by including public lands in Delta County as part of the bill.

The Senator’s web site for the proposal asks four questions of the public. See below for sample answers and be sure to include your own personalized comments!

  1. What should be the Federal Government’s priorities in managing the Thompson Divide area?
    Sample Answer: The Federal Government’s priorities should be protection and preservation of the Thompson Divide area for ranching, recreation, and wildlife, including the protection of critical water supplies for ranching and agriculture in the Roaring Fork and North Fork Valleys.
  2. What is your connection to the Thompson Divide?
    Sample Answer: As a resident of the North Fork Valley and Delta County, some of the headwaters of the Paonia Reservoir and the North Fork of the Gunnison River lie within the Thompson Divide boundary as proposed in the draft map. These creeks and streams provide precious water for agriculture in the North Fork Valley and are fundamental to our region’s economy and way of life.
  3. Is there anything that you think is missing from this proposed legislation?
    Sample Answer: The Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act should include portions of Delta County that would protect the headwaters of the Muddy Creeks and other streams that flow into the Paonia Reservoir. In addition, the bill should include U.S. Forest Service land encompassing the Turner Creek, Electric Mountain, and Flattops Elk Park roadless areas, in order to protect the wilderness characteristics of these areas.
  4. Any other comments?
    Thank you, Senator Bennet, for your leadership on this issue and for your continued attention to the concerns of residents of the North Fork Valley and Delta County. We are grateful that you recognize that oil and gas development should not be the priority in every area, and that you are willing to stand up for what is right even on the difficult issues.

Please take a moment to thank the Senator today and provide feedback to strengthen the draft legislation. Your voice is crucial for protecting the North Fork Valley and the headwaters of the North Fork of the Gunnison River. Visit the Senator’s web site at

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