Colorado Wild was also forced to sue the Forest Service for granting temporary access to the inholding in the spring of 2005 without any public notification or process. This lawsuit sought to enjoin the Forest Service from illegally granting any further access to the developer – as it did on April 28 2005 – without full public involvement. Even though agency’s own Draft EIS even concluded that springtime access would result in major water quality impacts, the Forest Service granted the access without any impacts analysis. The Forest Service went so far as to cite regulations that no longer exist to rationalize this approval.
Colorado Wild has thus far held at bay a Forest Service motion for dismissal and secured the right to conduct discovery (i.e. obtain documents and question agency officials under oath) regarding the grant of access. Colorado Wild will be seeking to depose Forest Service officials and/or the developers (i.e. require them to answer questions about the legality of the access process), yet this will be costly. Magistrate Judge Dave West granted Colorado Wild until January 15 to complete this process, under which Friends of Wolf Creek hopes to further expose any illegalities. The government, not surprisingly though, has already appealed the Magistrate’s decision, which Colorado Wild is currently fighting.
Colorado Wild filed a similar access permit lawsuit in October 2004. The organization voluntarily dropped that lawsuit based on promises from the Department of Justice and Forest Service in both October 2004 -and way back in 1999 – that no access would be granted until after completion of the EIS. On August 31,1999, the Forest Service signed an agreement in exchange for Colorado Wild dropping its appeal of a new lift and parking lot at the ski area. Yet in the March 11 2004 letter to the Village at Wolf Creek developer, the Forest Service violated that agreement, prompting Colorado Wild’s Oct. 2004 lawsuit against the Rio Grande National Forest for breach of contract. On Oct. 21 2004, the Forest Service declared that the March 11 letter did not “grant any right of access on FSR 391 to any party”, undermining the developers contention that they had access sufficient for development. Subsequently, Colorado Wild voluntarily withdrew its Oct. 8 2004 lawsuit, but had to reinitiate a similar complaint given the most recent April 28 2005 grant of access.