Another prominent co-sponsor signed onto a bill that would protect large portions of the Thompson Divide area from energy development.
Sen. Mark Udall joined the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act as a co-sponsor on Thursday, prompting another wave of support from sportsmen.
"There's been enough turmoil surrounding the Thompson Divide," said Aaron Kindle, campaign coordinator for Trout Unlimited's Sportsmen's Conservation Project. "With Udall's support, we hope to get this passed and put to rest the threat to such important hunting and fishing resources."
The bill would permanently withdraw unleased acres of largely untouched public land near Carbondale, Colo. from future energy development and give developers the means to donate or sell lands that are currently leased. The area is known for its prime elk hunting and high quality fishing.
"I've camped and hunted the Thompson Divide for more than a decade and have fallen in love with the place," said Nate Simmons, a longtime bowhunter and local resident of the area. "I'm really pleased that Senator Udall also recognizes those values that sportsmen hold dear. Hopefully we're now one step closer to permanent protection."
The Thompson Divide is an important economic driver in the area providing hundreds of jobs and more than $30 million in revenue to the local economy each year.
"As a business owner that relies on the clean water coming from the Thompson Divide, I'm happy to hear the news of Senator Udall's sponsorship off this legislation," said Jeff Dysart, owner of Alpine Angling and Roaring Fork Anglers. "Protecting the area is key to ensuring the health and vitality of the gold medal Roaring Fork River and is essential to my way of life."