In what we hope will be the final chapter in McCombs’ proposed 10,000-person “Village” at Wolf Creek debacle, the Rio Grande National Forest officially cancelled the new EIS for the project on February 12, 2009. Ten years after Colorado Wild’s original objection to a proposed access route through the ski area’s parking lot, the project has ground to a halt yet again.
Now it seems an entirely new proposal is in the works, spearheaded by a new real estate development team out of Austin, Texas. Although details have yet to be released, Colorado Wild’s conversations with the project’s new lead, Clint Jones, suggest that a little bit of reality may have made its way into the company boardroom.
The new plan being hatched allegedly includes a land exchange to swap the roughly two-thirds of McCombs’ property comprised of wetlands and areas reserved for skiing, for land connecting the property to the state highway, and additional developable land. Were this land exchange to happen, Clint Jones is talking about a smaller scale Village, although nobody knows just how “small” it would be.
On its face, the idea of protecting the wetlands on site and putting some space between the development and the ski area appears reasonable. The devil, as always, will be in the details, especially when it comes to a potential land exchange. By law, the value of lands exchanged must be comparable, which means McCombs would have to somehow convince the Forest Service that the generally undevelopable land they want to give up has the same value as the developable highway frontage land they want to acquire. Seems like a tough sell to us.
Colorado Wild appreciates Clint Jones’ willingness to discuss the project and their ideas, and hopes that McCombs will prove to be legitimately interested in addressing the concerns of the area’s residents and visitors. Time will tell. We’ll keep you informed as this proposal develops, and will continue to work with the Forest Service and our elected officials to ensure the transparency of any future public processes, and to ultimately ensure that Wolf Creek’s outstanding resources are protected to the fullest extent of the law.