Thompson Divide Coalition offering to buy oil, gas leases to stop drilling

Colorado ranchers and sportsmen are offering to buy back oil and gas leases to protect 220,000 acres of high-country public land from oil and gas drillers.

The Thompson Divide Coalition says it can raise as much as $50 million to buy leases in an effort to protect the region's tourism and agricultural economies.

According to the Denver Post, Encana and SG Interests have declined the offer.

The Thompson Divide includes federal land from Carbondale to McClure Pass crossing Pitkin, Gunnison, Garfield, Mesa and Delta counties.

Lawmakers are working on legislation to prevent future mineral leasing in the area and offer companies reimbursement if they trade in existing leases.