UPDATE: The Forest Service granted Colorado Wild’s request for an extension of the public comment period for the “Village” on Tuesday October 7th. The agency has requested a new development plan from McCombs, and will share the new plan with the public once it is received. This is great news for our efforts, but we must continue to get the word out, attend public meetings, write comments, and reach out to our elected officials to get them involved.
Nine months after our successful lawsuit, the US Forest Service and billionaire developer Red McCombs are heading back to the drawing board and starting a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the so called “Village” at Wolf Creek. The Forest Service has formally begun accepting public comments during this the scoping phase of the EIS, and will now be accepting comments through December 31, 2008.
In order to ensure protection of our public lands and the public process designed to care for them, we must continue to demonstrate the public concern and opposition to this damaging proposal that has stopped the Village from moving forward to date. Please try to attend tonight’s public meeting, write your own letter to the Forest Service, and spread the word amongst your friends and neighbors.
We can stop the Village at Wolf Creek, but only with your help!
In recognition of Wolf Creek’s many values, Colorado Wild’s Friends of Wolf Creek campaign has fought since 1999 to preserve a critical wildlife corridor, threatened species, wetlands, air quality, scenic and recreational resources on the Continental Divide, and the integrity of nearby Wilderness areas in the Southern Rockies from a massive development proposal at Wolf Creek Pass. Squeezed between the South San Juan Wilderness Area – the Southern Rocky Mountains’ wildest – and the Weminuche Wilderness Area – Colorado’s largest – the habitat along Wolf Creek Pass forms the headwaters of both the Rio Grande and San Juan Rivers and serves as a critical ecological and recreational linkage. Yet out-of-state developers with little knowledge of high altitude conditions and values are proposing the “Village” at Wolf Creek, a city of up to 10,000 people at the top of the Pass. This intense development in an otherwise undeveloped area entirely surrounded by National Forest would dramatically impact the entire region.
The current proposal appears poised to repeat the same errors made in years of foiled attempts to circumvent the public process, and millions spent on politically manipulated approvals. The Friends of Wolf Creek have successfully overturned every permit thus far acquired by the developer. This saga to protect one of Colorado’s prized landscapes continues to be made possible thanks to the dedication and generosity of thousands of committed citizens.
Where’s the Beef? Forest Service Asks for Comment on Undisclosed “Village” Proposal
McCombs is seeking expanded access rights across public land for purposes of building is proposed “Village.” The new EIS will allegedly consider the full impacts of the Village to the environment, wildlife, public safety, and surrounding communities. Curiously though, the Forest Service’s Scoping Notice fails to provide any specific information about McCombs’ development proposal. We understand from recent documents recorded in Mineral County that a new plan in the works, but apparently the developer was attempting to withhold this information from the Forest Service and the public.
The developer seems to have rushed the Forest Service into calling for public comments prematurely, without providing any basis on which the public, Forest Service scientists, and other government agencies may evaluate the developer’s plans. On September 24th and again on October 6th we requested an extension of the public comment period until such time as a clear, written proposal is presented by McCombs and the Forest Service officials overseeing the preparation of the EIS. Thankfully, that request was granted on October 7th.
Despite numerous problems with the original land use plan, and recent claims by McCombs new development team that the original 10,000 person Village proposal is off the table, McCombs’ application to the Forest Service for the new EIS relies on the original 2004 development plan found illegal by the Colorado Court of Appeals. It appears as though the developer is keeping their real plans in the dark while asking the Forest Service and the public to again rush forward with an EIS process for access without knowing even the most basic details regarding the size, scope, and type of development proposed by McCombs.
- TAKE ACTION: Write a Letter Expressing Your Concerns about the “Village” Written comments are due to the Forest Service by December 31, 2008. Send your letter to:
Wolf Creek Access EIS,
C/O Content Analysis Group,
1584 South 500 West, Suite 202,
Woods Cross, UT, 84010,
E-mail: email@example.com, Fax: 801-397-5628
Consider making some or all of the following points in your letter:
- Describe you use of the Wolf Creek Pass area and your relationship to the region and its resources.
- Describe how the development of a city of up to 10,000 people at Wolf Creek Pass would adversely affect your interests (aesthetic, recreational, economic, health, etc.)
- Ask the Forest Service to consider a full range of alternatives in the EIS including returning the property to the public via a land exchange or buyout.
- Request that the Forest Service determine “reasonable access” based on the carrying capacity of the area (water availability, utility availability, highway safety, wetland avoidance, etc.) and not simply on McCombs’ illegal development proposal. At a minimum, the Forest Service should consider a reduced-scale development alternative in the EIS based on these resource constraints.
- Request that the Forest Service enforce the scenic easement that the public owns on McCombs’ property which restricts industrial facilities, prevents storage of hazardous materials, and allows the Forest Service to review and approve (or deny) land use proposals for the property.
- Request that the Forest Service complete a thorough analysis of all of the projects’ impacts including, but not limited to water quality, water quantity, wildlife, wetlands, traffic, air quality, socio-economic impacts, public safety, and more!
- TAKE ACTION: Write a Letter to the Editor
We need to continue to spread the word about the “Pillage” at Wolf Creek, and expand our network of concerned activists. Consider writing a Letter to the Editor (usually under 300 words), or call your local paper and ask if you can submit a full editorial (usually around 700 words). Either is a great way to reach out to the public and share your concerns. Feel free to contact us at Colorado Wild if you want any help with your letter.
- TAKE ACTION: Contact Your Elected Officials
Friends of Wolf Creek have had outstanding support from elected officials at the local, state and federal level. As the Forest Service initiates a new EIS process, it is critical that we re-engage our elected officials, and ask for their help. Beginning with Colorado’s Congressional Delegation, we encourage you to contact:
- Representative John Salazar: (970) 259-1012, e-mail
- Senator Ken Salazar: (303) 455-7600 or e-mail
- Representative Mark Udall (candidate for Senate): (303) 650-7820 or e-mail
Ask each for their continued leadership on this issue. Specifically, request that they:
- Request that the Forest Service conduct public hearings, not just open houses, to solicit public comments on the new development plan once it is released.
- ￼￼￼Request that the Forest Service consider a full range of alternatives in the EIS including return of the property to public ownership.
Please also contact your local and state elected officials. You can find their contact information here.