Court’s decision pushes for full disclosure on Village at Wolf Creek

By: Tracy Chamberlin, Durango Telegraph
October 8, 2015

After three decades of debate, the U.S. Forest Service handed down a decision earlier this year that made it seem like the time had come to break out the shovels. But, the battle for the Village at Wolf Creek is far from over.

“I don’t think the village is inevitable,” said Matt Sandler, staff attorney for Rocky Mountain Wild, an environmental group opposed to the development that could bring 8,000 people to the top of Wolf Creek Pass.

The battle over the village essentially began in 1986 when the Forest Service approved a land swap with Texas-based developer B.J. “Red” McCombs. In exchange for property he owned in Saguache County, McCombs received 300 acres of national forest land just outside Wolf Creek Ski Area – the same acreage at the center of the current dispute.

This property is surrounded by public lands and called an in-holding. It can be reached in the summer months on a Forest Service road off Highway 160, but the road closes and the property becomes unreachable in winter.

Under federal law, if private property is surrounded by conservation lands, like national forest, the landowners must be granted access. It’s up to the Forest Service to determine the best way to go about it – either allowing for access roads over federal land or approving another land swap.

Opponents of the village, though, think there’s a third option. “There’s always the hope the landowner would come to the realization this isn’t something the people want,” Sandler said.

Read the full article at Durango Telegraph.

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