Mr. McCombs has taken the advice of Congressman Salazar and has applied for a land exchange from the Rio Grande National Forest through the Forest Service administrative review process.
In coming months, the Forest Service will be conducting a feasibility study on the Land Exchange proposal recently submitted by Mr. McCombs. This will be an internal three-part process. First, the Forest Service will be reviewing legalities, then there will be an analysis of Merits and if it is evaluated to move forward, the NEPA will be engaged.
Given that the Forest Service has indicated that it has concerns that the land exchange proposal is “not in the public interest,” we expect that the legalities and analysis of merits will most likely be a back and forth discussion of potential modifications to the original proposal. In the end, though, the Forest Service is under no obligation to accept the original proposal in its entirety or any part thereof.
Based on what we have seen so far, we continue to have concerns that McCombs’ land exchange proposal is significantly out of balance, and unfair to the public. We look forward to the Forest Service taking a careful look at the proposal, and determining whether it is appropriate to carry the idea forward into an in depth analysis, modify it, or deny it outright.
Colorado Wild and San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) will be following this process closely and will keep you up to speed on the latest developments as they occur. We will be asking for your assistance in the near future to help assure that this process moves forward in a fair and unbiased manner, and that the results are thoroughly scrutinized.
If the Forest Service determines that the proposal is worth considering in detail, we continue to believe that the U.S. Forest Service’s administrative review process is the best venue for the public to see its questions and concerns addressed and for a transparent and informed decision to be rendered regarding the proposed land exchange and any associated development.
Without your help, this “look before you leap” process would not have been possible, and Mr. McCombs might be well on his way toward Congressional approval of his land exchange proposal. Thank you for your interest, participation, and stamina in this long-term fight.
After more than 25 years of controversy, the proposed Village at Wolf Creek project has never received the fair, transparent, and honest appraisal that the public deserves. Approving this land exchange legislatively would have continued this unfortunate legacy. That is why we are encouraged that Mr. McCombs has applied to the Rio Grande National Forest to have his proposal reviewed through the Administrative Process. If you have not already done so, please take a minute to thank Congressman Salazar yourself for supporting a complete and fair assessment of the proposal’s impacts through an administrative process that we can all participate in.