Biden Blocks Mining On 221,000+ Acres In Colorado After Long Battle

( – The US Department of the Interior last Wednesday blocked drilling and mineral mining on public land in Colorado’s Thompson Divide for two decades as part of the Biden administration’s conservation push, KDVR reported.

The order, signed by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, withdraws nearly 22,000 acres of federal land from future energy and mining development for 20 years.

Secretary Haaland said in an April 3 press release that the administration’s decision was also the “goal of a decades-long grassroots effort” by outdoor enthusiasts like hunters and fishermen, as well as “ranchers, conservation groups, and local governments.”

Haaland said the order reflected the Biden administration’s commitment to supporting local conservation efforts. She said it also made good on President Biden’s promise to protect the Thompson Divide when, in 2022, he designated Camp Hale a national monument.

The White House described the Thompson Divide as one of Colorado’s “most cherished landscapes.”

Greg Poschman, the chairman of the Pitkin County Commissioners applauded the Interior Department’s order, saying that constituents of Pitkin County had been seeking protections for the Thompson Divide for over a decade.

Carbondale Mayor Ben Bohmfalk also supported the move, saying in a statement that fossil fuel development was not compatible “with the livelihoods” of those who rely on the Thompson Divide.

According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, visitors, including hikers, hunters, anglers, and other vacationers, bring about $30 million each year to the region.

In total, the Interior Department order protects 221,898 acres of US Forest Service land. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act limits the order to 20 years since the law only permits the Interior Department to withdraw over 5,000 acres of federal land for only two decades. Permanently withdrawing more than 5,000 acres from drilling and mining requires a vote in Congress.

Secretary Haaland’s order is part of the Biden Administration’s “America the Beautiful” initiative that was launched in 2021. The “locally-led” initiative seeks to restore and conserve at least 30 percent of US land and water by 2030.

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