Don't Pillage Wolf Creek!

Don't Pillage Wolf Creek!

Friends of Wolf Creek is a coalition to defend Wolf Creek Pass from a proposed "village" of 10,000 people proposed by Red McCombs.


Wolf Creek Pass needs your help to remain the beautiful area that you and thousands of others know and love. Out-of-state developers continue to pursue plans for a "Village" at Wolf Creek, a city of 8,000-10,000 people at the top of the Pass.

This intense development plan in an otherwise undeveloped area entirely surrounded by National Forest would dramatically impact the entire region. Impacts of the proposed development threaten local businesses in nearby Archuleta and Rio Grande Counties, unspoiled backcountry recreation opportunities along the Continental Divide, water supply and water quality for downstream communities, rare and ecologically valuable fen wetlands, and one of the most critical wildlife corridors in the Southern Rocky Mountains.

Current Status

On May 19, 2017, Judge Matsch found that the Forest Service "failed to consider important aspects of the issues before them, offered an explanation for their decision that runs counter to evidence, failed to base their decision on consideration of the relevant factors, and based their decision on an analysis that is contrary to law."

The Court rejected the Forest Service conclusion that it lacked any control over the use of the private parcel. The Court explained that "there is no legal or logical basis for Defendants" position that the Forest Service had no power or jurisdiction to limit or regulate development on the federal lands being given to LMJV.

Judge Matsch was also concerned with the fact that "development resulting from the Forest Service's approval of the land exchange will adversely impact an endangered species [Federally listed Canada lynx], yet fails to comply with the statutory requirements for the protection of that species."

On June 16, 2017, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture filed a Motion to Reconsider asking Judge Matsch to reconsider his decision, alleging that Judge Matsch suffered from "a misapprehension of controlling law and facts."

On September 14, 2017, Judge Matsch denied this Motion describing the Forest Service's Wolf Creek Decision as "a patent effort to circumvent [the agencies] obligations to protect the natural environment of the Forest." Judge Matsch again reiterated that the Forest Service's decision was unlawful and an "attempt at an artful dodge of its responsibility."

On October 16, 2017, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture filed an appeal to Judge Matsch's decision that the Village at Wolf Creek development was approved "contrary to law." And on November 9, 2017, the Forest Service joined them. Friends of Wolf Creek is ready to argue this case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

If we are successful, the lawsuit would reverse the 2015 decision by the Forest Service to approve a land exchange providing critical road access needed for the 8,000 person "village" on Wolf Creek Pass.

The brief for this case details how the Forest Service unlawfully limited the scope of the environmental analysis and used the process to benefit a private business over the good of the public. Despite the site of the proposed development being located in crucial habitat for the endangered Canada lynx, a wildlife corridor linking two major Wilderness areas, and containing rare fen wetlands, the Forest Service did not properly analyze protections or demand mitigation as part of the land transfer.

Additional information:

Article in The Durango Herald: Federal juge hears arguments in Village at Wolf Creek lawsuit

Press Release: "Final Arguments, Filings Against Massive Development at Wolf Creek in Judge's Hands"

Article in The Durango Herald: "Future of Village at Wolf Creek awaits judge's decision"

Blog post about ski area character: "Glitz and Glamour at Wolf Creek?"

Blog post about Canada lynx: "The “Village” at Wolf Creek Pass – a disaster for the Endangered Species Act listed Canada lynx"

For an in-depth, chronological history of this case, visit our Background page.

The Friends of Wolf Creek coalition petitioned U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, requesting that he immediately stop the land exchange and start an independent review of the decision making process. Click here to see the petition.

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