By: Don Thompson, Alamosa Valley Courier
October 16, 2012

Don’t develop the pass

The US Forest Service is reviewing public comments it has received regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of a proposed land exchange atop Wolf Creek Pass. If the land exchange is approved it could help pave the way for the construction of the Village at Wolf Creek. Since the proposed land exchange did not have any public benefit and only assisted the proposed developer, refusal of the land exchange would seem to be clearly indicated. The developer wanted to receive more land than the amount that would be returned to the Forest Service.

Wolf Creek Pass is the wrong place for the development of a “Village.” Wolf Creek Pass sits atop the Continental Divide and is surrounded by unroaded areas, wilderness, wetlands, and provides critical wildlife habitat and migration corridor. A “Village” will likely harm the economies of the local communities of South Fork and Pagosa Springs by drawing tourists (and their tourist dollars) away from the towns and by providing guest services in the planned commercial development as part of the “Village” concept. After all, who is going to drive 46 miles round trip up and down a treacherous and snowy mountain pass to grab dinner in the closest town (23 miles to South Fork) when the burger joint at the top of the pass will be far more convenient?

The “Village” will also cause irreparable damage to backcountry recreation opportunities such as hunting, angling and hiking. As we learn more about the importance of water to the Valley, the idea of a large water consumer and sewage producer in the headwaters of the Rio Grande becomes less and less appealing.

I for one am looking forward to the celebration when the Forest Service announces that they have denied the request of the developer.

Don Thompson

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