Forced to sue in June 2005 to acquire documents that should have been available to the public all along, Colorado Wild uncovered collusion between the developer and the Forest Service. The lawsuit seeks to end Forest Service stonewalling and force the agency to disclose critical public records as required by law.
Partial document releases in Sept 2005 under court order revealed that McCombs’ high powered Washington D.C. attorneys and lobbyists ghost wrote federal policy providing access across National Forest lands for the proposed Village, notably a March 11 2004 grant of access also the subject of litigation. Through June 12 2003, numerous emails and facsimiles – many of which the Forest Service continues to withhold the content of – show additional collusion. On June 14 2004, Village developers submitted an application for final approval to Mineral County, a key component of which was that March 11 2004 letter from the Forest Service establishing the developer’s limited, seasonal use access.
The Forest Service agreed to release all documents and provide a list of withheld documents by Oct. 7 2005. Once Colorado Wild publicized those political favors in a Sept. 14 2005 press release though, the doors shut once again. Colorado Wild agreed to grant the Forest Service an extension to Nov. 11 2005 to release all the documents and certify the search as complete (i.e. state under oath that all documents -including communcations between the developer and government officials – have been handed over), but only with the condition that the EIS and final access decision not be published until Nov. 28 2005. Despite the agreement, as of Nov. 25 2005, the Forest Service had still failed to adhere to the court’s order, forcing the organization to ask the court to rule the agency in contempt. Friends of Wolf Creek anticipates that these additional documents will reveal yet more collusion between the Forest Service and the developer.
Friends of Wolf Creek has been receiving conflicting statements from the agency that the EIS would indeed be released the week of Nov. 28, or be delayed into January. Thus Colorado Wild also filed an emergency motion on Nov. 23 asking the court to enjoin the agency from releasing the Final EIS and road access decision until it fully complies with open government requirements under the Freedom of Information Act.