A multi-year effort to pause oil and natural gas development across a portion of Colorado’s Western Slope may soon be finalized, according to federal officials.

A draft environmental assessment (DEA) issued in December by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) found there would be “no significant impact” if federal mineral leasing was withdrawn for 20 years across 224,713 acres of national forest land in the Thompson Divide near Crested Butte. 

The Biden administration has proposed a 20-year pause in leasing across the federal land, mostly in Gunnison and Pitkin counties. The federal lands are overseen by the Interior Department’s USFS and the Bureau of Land Management.

The impact on oil and natural gas development would be negligible, the USFS stated. However, “the...