In Colorado, mining and drilling threaten the ecosystems of the Thompson Divide

The Thompson Divide in Colorado’s White River National Forest is facing threats from mining and oil and gas drilling — endangering the wildlife and ecosystems that call the place home.

GlacierNPS via Flickr | Public Domain
Bighorn sheep, like the one pictured above, make their home in the Thompson Divide in Colorado’s White River National Forest.
Sammy Herdman

Former Save The Boreal Forest Campaign, Associate, Environment America

In the beautiful backcountry of White River National Forest, wild aspen wind between the mountains along the Crystal River, brightening to golden hues in autumn. Abundant wildlife amble through the Thompson Divide, including lynx, black bears, bighorn sheep and elk.

But industries threaten to ravage this Colorado landscape by mining its mountains for coal and drilling for oil and gas.

Pristine ecosystems threatened by mining

The Thompson Divide sits in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Endangered Canada lynx bound through the snow and black bears dig their dens. Tremendous herds of elk roam and graze in this wilderness.

There has already been more than a century of mining in this area, polluting the air and water. And despite having leases revoked recently, oil and gas companies are eager to drill. More mining and new drilling would pollute its rivers and break up critical habitat.

In addition to scores of wildlife, this area is a favorite for hikers, sportsmen and anglers, from stunning scenic views to rivers teeming with trout. 

The Thompson Divide needs our help

Protecting Thompson Divide will preserve its ecological importance, maintain the benefits of trees to local air quality, and allow visitors to enjoy its unspoiled scenery.

Recognizing how special this place is, Secretary Deb Haaland  proposed protecting nearly 225,000 acres of the Thompson Divide area from mining and drilling for the next 20 years. Environment Colorado delivered nearly 10,000 petitions to the Bureau of Land Management in support of their proposal to protect the Thompson Divide. But now the Forest Service needs to conduct an environmental assessment.


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

Sammy Herdman

Former Save The Boreal Forest Campaign, Associate, Environment America

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