By: Rose Chilcoat, The Durango Herald
November 11, 2012

Wolf Creek wrong place for proposed village

Great Old Broads for Wilderness believes the proposed village at Wolf Creek Ski Area is a bad idea, regardless of size. The ecologically important and fragile public lands and waters of Wolf Creek Pass are no place for this sort of huge residential and commercial development. Here are some reasons why we support the no-action alternative:

Wolf Creek’s roadless and wild landscapes provide important wildlife linkages connecting critical habitats to the north and south.

One man’s personal vision for potential financial gain should not be enabled by our federal government at the expense of the local people who live and work in the area and at the expense of the natural environment that locals treasure and use. This proposal does not serve the public interest.

The land appraisal is unfairly skewed. It grossly overvalues development and business economic benefits while completely ignoring the known economic benefits and long-term values of the wildlife, natural areas and the use they support.

A resort at the top of a 10,500-foot pass that receives more snowfall than any other in Colorado is dangerous for travelers. Wolf Creek Pass can be a risky drive. Adding thousands of visitors who are inexperienced with serious winter conditions will increase the danger. Resort visitors will suffer from altitude sickness, requiring emergency services from distant communities.

Wolf Creek is a unique, local customer-oriented business focusing specifically on the lift-served backcountry-like experience. This proposal will have huge adverse impacts on the existing customer base for this successful business.

The benefits of clean water, natural environments, habitat for wildlife, sustaining existing businesses and ensuring public safety should weigh heavily in any decision and, if properly considered, would lead any rational person to deny the requested land exchange. In the public interest, we’d suggest that Red McCombs donate his Wolf Creek Pass lands to the U.S. Forest Service as a lasting legacy or exchange them for less controversial public lands at lower elevations. His name then would be remembered positively for generations – rather than reviled.

Rose Chilcoat, Durango, CO

Read more at the Durango Herald.

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