Forest Service process flawed, failed to ‘listen to the public’
By: Jonathan Romeo, Durango Herald
May 19, 2017
In a significant win for opponents of the Village at Wolf Creek, a federal judge on Friday invalidated the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to approve a land exchange that would have essentially served as a green light for a new resort atop the remote mountain pass.
“The order rules in the favor of community groups who have been fighting this ill-conceived project for decades,” said Travis Stills, an attorney with Energy & Conservation Law. “This is an important decision that respects the law, the environment and, importantly, agency staffers who tried to protect the national forest, despite the constant barrage of political pressure.”
In 2015, Rio Grande Forest Service supervisor Dan Dallas approved a land exchange with Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture – spearheaded by Texas billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs – that gave the developers the access to U.S. Highway 160 they had lacked since the 1980s.
For nearly three decades, Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture has sought to build a resort with a capacity for an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people on the mountain pass at nearly 10,000 feet and more than 20 miles from the nearest town.
A coalition of environmental groups for two years has challenged the Forest Service’s decision, arguing that the agency unlawfully limited the scope of an environmental analysis and was unduly influenced by McCombs and his political pressure throughout the process.
Read more at The Durango Herald.