By: Jonathan Romeo, The Durango Herald
November 14, 2017

Rendering of the Village at Wolf Creek

Rendering of the Village at Wolf Creek

The U.S. Forest Service is challenging a federal judge’s ruling from earlier this year that its Rio Grande office’s approval of the Village at Wolf Creek was steeped in “predictive bias” and was “contrary to law.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service, through the U.S. Department of Justice, filed a notice of appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The developers of the proposed resort, Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture, also appealed in October.

The notice of appeals the Forest Service submitted contained only a brief statement that it intended to protest the decision, so the reasons why are unclear. The federal agency has 14 days to submit a more substantial challenge.

The U.S. Forest Service referred all questions to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

In May, a senior U.S. district judge for the District of Colorado handed down a strongly worded decision that the U.S. Forest Service’s Rio Grande office’s approval of an access road to the proposed resort was invalid on many levels.

Since the 1980s, Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture – headed by Texas billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs – has attempted to build a massive resort on a remote mountain pass, adjacent to the Wolf Creek Ski area.

However, the development has lacked road access. In 2015, Rio Grande Forest Service supervisor Dan Dallas approved a land exchange with Leavell-McCombs, which effectively granted the developers that access.

In response, environmental groups and others opposed to the resort filed suit, claiming the Forest Service’s approval of the land swap short-changed the environmental impacts of the development, and was unduly influenced by McCombs.

Judge Richard Matsch, responsible for that May decision, agreed.

Read more at The Durango Herald.