Finalize protections for the Thompson Divide


Supporters spoke up in this action

Delivery to the Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service

Action ended on January 16, 2023

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We’re grateful for your support.

What Was At Stake

After decades of hard work, we’re taking public lands off the chopping block.

The Thompson Divide is an essential part of Colorado’s National Forest lands that contains some of the last fully intact forest ecosystems in the state and provides important habitat for wildlife, unparalleled backcountry recreation, and clean water for people in local communities. It encompasses a dozen different roadless areas but is threatened with potential oil and gas development and a lack of permanent protection.

The Bush administration recklessly leased much of the Divide in 2003, putting the land and the life that thrives there in jeopardy. For the last twenty years, the threat of drilling has loomed large. But now, the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service just announced their intention to protect the area from harmful extraction.

A mineral withdrawal is the official name for the process that will take the drilling rights for the area off the market. The withdrawal would protect over 200,000 acres of public lands between the Roaring Fork and North Fork Valleys from oil and gas leasing for 20 years. The agencies are accepting public comment until January 16, 2023 on the proposed withdrawal.

This proposed action is the result of decades of advocacy from Colorado residents, local government officials, our client Wilderness Workshop, and Earthjustice. Over the last two decades activists fought through changes in administrations, questioned shoddy analyses, turned out in droves for comment periods, and remained focused on keeping the oil industry out of this special place.

This fight perfectly encapsulates why the work of Earthjustice, our partners, and activists like you is so important. Despite the oil industry’s vast resources and hordes of lobbyists, we have something more powerful — people who care about the places they call home and the ecosystems that support them. No matter how long it takes and no matter how long the odds are, we’re going to keep fighting until the work is done.

Help us finish the job and protect the Thompson Divide by filing a public comment in support of the administration’s proposal.

Autumn scenery in the Thompson Divide.
Autumn scenery in the Thompson Divide. (Jon Mullen / Ecostock)

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.