Incriminating emails released in ongoing suit over Village at Wolf Creek

By: Tracy Chamberlin, The Durango Telegraph
January 21, 2016

The first ones arrived in late November – boxes and boxes filled with roughly 70,000 pages of emails and other documents. Eventually, an additional 30,000 came to the offices of attorneys working with a coalition of conservation groups who oppose the development of the Village at Wolf Creek.

Some of those pages might even be duplicates, but there was no way of knowing which ones. Not without reading each and every page.

The piles of paper came from employees of the U.S. Forest Service. They were the result of a judge’s decision to encourage full disclosure in a lawsuit still pending before the courts, one of several cases between the Forest Service and the coalition.

Among those piles was an email chain between several Forest Service employees.

In it, they discussed whether or not Rio Grande Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas, who was the individual tasked with making the final decision on a land swap between the Forest Service and Texas-billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs, could also be the one who enforces that decision. The land swap would essentially pave the way for McCombs to build the village, a proposed resort community that could accommodate 8,000 people with luxury homes, hotels, condos, townhomes, restaurants, shops and more.

At the end of the exchange, Tom Malecek, Rio Grande National Forest district ranger, writes “… Dan (Dallas’) main concern wasn’t the letter, but the emails around the letter that might be a little damaging in the event they are not all deleted in case we get a (Freedom of Information Act request) … remember we are swimming with sharks and need to keep emails from even the remote appearance of whatever, so make sure you burn this once read!”

Of course, the email wasn’t burned.

Matt Sandler, staff attorney with Rocky Mountain Wild, a member of the coalition “Friends of Wolf Creek,” said he was surprised the email slipped through the cracks and ended up on his desk. He wasn’t surprised, though, that it existed in the first place.

Read more at The Durango Telegraph.

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