Letter: Veterans' support for Divide

 ·  Garett Reppenhagen, Post Independent   ·   Link to Article

As the Rocky Mountain director for Vet Voice Foundation, I have been following the BLM’s draft decision to cancel the undeveloped oil and gas leases in the heart of the Thompson Divide while honoring existing operations on the land. Therefore I am encouraged to see in your recent reporting that the BLM is looking at canceling 25 of those leases. I appreciate that the local BLM has listened to constituents and local communities and have proposed a balanced approach to this issue.

I testified at the BLM’s public hearing in December about the importance of the Thompson Divide area to the fish and wildlife habitat upon which so many depend for recreation, as a local economic driver, as well as the healing power of special places like this for many veterans like myself. Being able to find solitude, peace and cope with the “new normal” in the Thompson Divide and our Colorado public lands is critical to adjusting back to civilian life when veterans return from war.

At the December hearing and the others held across the state, hundreds of people who came out to voice their support for a balanced approach in the area. These were not “environmental extremists,” but ranchers, business people, vets and voters.

Yet despite the overwhelming support for the cancellation of the leases from all types of people who live and work in the area, Rep. Tipton’s recent comments show he is fully aligned with the oil and gas industry in his support to retain all of the leases. Rep. Tipton has disregarded the vast public support for these cancellations showing his allegiance to an out-of-state oil and gas company over his own constituents.

Garett Reppenhagen