In the 30-year fight to build the Village at Wolf Creek, environmental groups again have the developers in their crosshairs. Two months ago, the U.S. Forest Service approved a controversial land swap atop Colorado's Wolf Creek Pass that represented a milestone in the fight to develop a new mountain village. But as we predicted, a coalition of conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in an effort to stop development.
The Village at Wolf Creek has been the vision of Texas billionaire Billy Joe "Red" McCombs since the 1980s. Mr. McCombs, 87, has spent 28 years planning a massive town near Wolf Creek Ski Area, not far from Pagosa Springs, Colorado. At full build out, the Village at Wolf Creek will have up to 1,711 units comprised of hotels, condos, town homes, and single family houses. Access to the ski resort would be from the Alberta chairlift or a new chairlift called the Meadow lift.
In May, the Forest Service swapped 178 acres of mountain wetlands in exchange for 204.4 acres of federal land and a road that connects McCombs' current property holdings with U.S. highway 160. The major reason for approving the swap was a 1980 law that requires owners of in-holdings to be given reasonable access to their property.
According to the Durango Herald, "This land exchange was completed without the full and transparent analysis of the impacts that is required by law," said Matt Sandler, an attorney for Rocky Mountain Wild, who filed the lawsuit. "These laws are in place to protect the public interest; this Forest Service decision protects the interests of big business and billionaires."
The environmental coalition believes that the federal environmental impact analysis was too narrow in scope and exhibited a lack of transparency. They also allege that developers pressured Forest Service officials and at times used political connections to try and force approval of the exchange.
So what's next? Rocky Mountain Wild and company want to convince the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Tom Tidwell, to stop the development. Stay tuned.
· Lawsuit filed over controversial Wolf Creek land trade [SCCV]
· Village at Wolf Creek faces hurdle [Durango Herald]
· Forest Service Delays Decision on Wolf Creek [Curbed Ski]
· Plans Move Forward on Village at Wolf Creek [Curbed Ski]
· The Village at Wolf Creek [Official Site]
· $1 Billion Jumbo Glacier Resort Still May Not Happen [Curbed Ski]
· Go Here Now: The Top Reasons to Ski at Wolf Creek [Curbed Ski]
· Find Neverending Powder On This Colorado Road Trip [Curbed Ski]