By: Joe Hanel, The Durango Herald
April 21, 2014
Forest Service officials are delaying a decision on a land swap for the Village at Wolf Creek, they announced Friday.
Dan Dallas, supervisor of Rio Grande National Forest, said he needs to see additional analysis about the proposed resort before he can make an informed decision.
The Forest Service issued a draft environmental impact statement in August 2012, and a final EIS was expected this month. Developer B.J. “Red” McCombs proposed the land trade nearly five years ago, after being frustrated for many more years in his attempt to build a resort town on his land just below Wolf Creek Ski Area.
“NEPA requires me to take a hard look at all aspects of the environmental and social issues associated with the proposed project. So I asked for a more in-depth look and further analysis upon review of the draft EIS documentation prior to making a final decision,” Dallas said in a statement through forest spokesman Mike Blakeman.
Specifically, Dallas wants to look at private resort developments next to federal land, Blakeman said.
Dallas was clear from the beginning that he would take as long as he needs to do a thorough analysis, Blakeman said.
“We don’t have a timeline, but we hope to have the work completed by early summer,” Blakeman said.
A spokesman for McCombs did not return a call before the Herald’s deadline Friday evening.
McCombs owns a 287-acre parcel centered on a large meadow below Wolf Creek Ski Area. It is surrounded by Forest Service land, and McCombs proposes to trade much of his land for a parcel abutting U.S. Highway 160.
His previous attempts to develop the Village have been overturned in court because he lacked road access to his inholding. The land swap would solve the road problem.
In the past, developers for McCombs have promoted a resort that could hold up to 10,000 people. But current plans call for starting with a much smaller development and building more if the demand is there.