Company bows to groups, gives up Thompson Divide lease

Opponents of drilling in the 220,000-acre Thompson Divide area won a minor victory this week when SG Interests said it would relinquish a 2,547-acre lease outside Redstone.

SG said it won’t submit an application to drill and develop the lease, or ask that it be suspended, and will let it expire on May 31.

As a result, “SG will forgo this development in the Coal Basin area” outside Redstone, the company said.

“As part of our discussions and continuing negotiations with area groups, including the Thompson Divide Coalition and Trout Unlimited, SG has recognized that compromises must be made with the community in the proposed development of our natural gas field in Pitkin and Garfield counties,” the company said in its announcement.

Zane Kessler, executive director of the coalition, said the news is “an important step in the right direction, but it’s only one step.”

“There are still several SG leases in the area that, if developed, will devastate existing uses and countless livelihoods in the Crystal River Valley. Our hunters, ranchers and recreational users aren’t out of the woods yet,” he said. “This is a business decision made in a Houston board room, not the result of ongoing negotiations with our coalition.”

The group has been seeking to purchase leases or otherwise persuade companies to give them up in the Thompson Divide area, which stretches roughly from Glenwood Springs to McClure Pass.

SG continues to hold more than 20,000 acres of federal leases in that area, in the proposed Lake Ridge drilling unit.

In its news release, it said road access and pipeline routes to develop the Coal Basin lease would have been in a different location from those for the Lake Ridge leases, with access likely occurring on a forest road up Coal Creek west of Redstone.

Coal Basin previously was the site of coal mining, and millions of dollars have been spent on reclamation and efforts to reduce sedimentation in Coal Creek.


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