By: Peter Miesler, The Durango Telegraph
August 30, 2012

To the editor,

The following is an excerpt from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement – Village at Wolf Creek Access Project … “1.7.3 Validity of 1986 Land Exchange: Several commenters questioned the validity of the original 1986 land exchange that resulted in the current private inholding. It is not the function of this EIS to evaluate the past federal actions that allowed the land exchange.”

I can’t fault the Village at Wolf Creek – Draft Environmental Impact Statement for taking this stance. It was a long time ago and actually the Rio Grande National Forest made a somewhat sweet deal. The parcels Mr. McCombs traded were nice (I’ve been there, I’ve looked at the land).

And besides, Rio Grande National Forest officials were trading under the understanding that Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture was intending to build a small exclusive get-away with a couple hundred cabins maybe.

But then it all went sour. Before anyone knew it, there was nothing but fast talking and suddenly it was pie in the sky and a luxury village for 10,000 rich folks come hell or high water. This in Alberta Park, 10,300 feet in elevation and the heart of the headwaters of the Rio Grande River Basin?

I bring this up because there is a lot of talk about Mr. McCombs’ private property rights. But, there is also an American tradition of integrity and sticking to one’s word. Mr. McCombs, you did not do that.

Protect it with all the lawyers he wants – the bottom line is Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture was not true to its own assurances and promises that were made to the community and Rio Grande National Forest (in order to secure the deal) at the start of this real estate adventure back in the ’80s.
Decades have rolled by, and his deceit has brought Mr. McCombs nothing but grief in these parts. The dream that made sense once is like the lost soul who’s train has slipped the station, never to return. But life 4 goes on! We need to move on.

When will the Rio Grande National Forest powers-that-be facilitate an end to this charade?

Mr. McCombs please allow this land to return to its fold, protected within the Rio Grande National Forest.

– Peter Miesler, Durango

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