Environment Foundation makes record grant to protect Thompson Divide from oil and gas drilling

By Real Aspen
May 10, 2013
The Thompson Divide near Carbondale.

In April 2013 the Environment Foundation made the largest grant in its 16-year history, donating $50,000 to protect the 220,000 acre Thompson Divide parcel outside of Carbondale. The goal behind this grant is to secure protection from oil and gas development on Federal lands in the Thompson Divide area.

“Thompson Divide is a national, not a local issue,” says Matt Hamilton, Executive Director, Environment Foundation. “It’s about whether we want to convert multiple use land with huge economic benefit to single use. It’s about where we ought to drill and where we should weigh competing benefits. That’s why the board felt it was appropriate to uncork such a big grant.”

This $50,000 grant is split across three local entities working to protect this special place, EcoFlight, Thompson Divide Coalition and Wilderness Workshop. Each of these organizations offers a unique set of skills important to efforts to preserve the Divide as an economic engine of the Roaring Fork Valley generating $30 million annually and supporting 300 jobs. Whether one is a locavore eating a burger at Fat Belly Burgers, a hunter stocking up on supplies at City Market or Sopris Liquors, or a hiker buying a pair of shoes at Independence Run and Hike, the Divide unites the valley.

"This is a big step forward for our broad-based coalition and we're honored to have the Environment Foundation's support,” says Zane Kessler, Executive Director, Thompson Divide Coalition. “From ski resorts and hunting outfitters to bike shops and local motels, protecting the Thompson Divide is important to our entire valley."

“We’re going to have to pull out all the stops to save the Thompson Divide in the coming year, so this grant is a powerful boost coming at just the right time. I hope we can match it several times over, and show the drillers that this community is prepared to do what it takes to win this fight,” says Dave Reed, Development Director, Wilderness Workshop.

To learn more about the issues facing the Thompson Divide watch the short-film “Divide United,” https://vimeo.com/60620735.

In total, the Foundation donated more than $118,000 to 13 projects in the spring of 2013. The foundation is funded by donations from Aspen Skiing Company employees and matched in whole or in part by Aspen Community Foundation, the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Swire Coca-Cola. Since its inception more than $2.2 million in grants have supported 401 projects.

Applications for fall 2013 funding will be available beginning August 15, 2013, and applications will be due November 1, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. In the meantime, those interested in receiving an application can email Matthew Hamilton at mhamilton@aspensnowmass.com.

The employee-funded, -founded and -directed Environment Foundation has awarded more than $2.2 million to 401 diverse local environmental projects since its inception in December 1997. More than 1,800 employees per year contribute to the foundation directly from their paychecks. For additional information about the Environment Foundation visit theenvironmentfoundation.org.

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