By: Dan Olson, San Juan Citizens Alliance, The Durango Herald
December 10, 2014

Dear Red,

How are things back in Texas? Peggy Sue and I are vacationing in Durango. Unseasonably warm, thank goodness. If this is global warming, you can officially call me a fan.

Buying any sports franchises this holiday season? The Spurs, the Vikings, what’s next? How about the Houston Dynamo? Just pulling your leg, my friend. We both know soccer isn’t a real sport.

So, getting down to business, I’ve wanted to talk with you about something for a while now. It’s the Wolf Creek Village thing you’ve been working on for – what’s it been now – 28 years?

Talking to the people who live here, the question I get is: He wants to do what now? Build a 10,000-person “village” at over 10,000 feet on Wolf Creek Pass? Right smack in the middle of lynx habitat and high-altitude wetlands? Twenty miles from the nearest town and with poor access to basic utilities, much less emergency services? Come again?

Oh, and those darn “No Pillage at Wolf Creek” bumper stickers are just everywhere. Horrible. Even saw one on a full-sized pickup.

I’m not a dumb man, Red, but a serious question: Can lowlanders breathe for extended periods of time at 10,000 feet? Make sure you put in one of those oxygen bar thingies, OK?

Probably shouldn’t have, but I also talked to those tree huggers. They were hot under the collar, let me tell you. Saying stuff like “that abomination of a bad idea will never be built” and a bunch of other hoo-ha. Anyway, sounds like the fight is still on – so watch your back. They smell bad, but apparently they got lawyers, too.

All this got me to thinking. Maybe this project isn’t in the cards.

If this was a private-property-rights issue or something, I’d have your back good buddy. But let’s face facts: You bought an inholding with no year-round access. Can’t develop that to any scale.

But then again – you’ve always seen opportunity where others see misery. Good on you for getting that forest supervisor, what’s his name – Dan Dallas – to give you a bunch of public lands to make this whole thing a possibility again.

By the by, that Dallas is really going above and beyond for you on this one. Word on the street is he won’t tell locals how much the land-swap appraisals came back at. No joke. He’s making San Juan Citizens Alliance and its posse file a Freedom of Information Act to get the info. That’s what I call our type of public servant!

Jeez, I don’t know. I’m conflicted on the whole thing, Red.

Most locals really don’t like the idea, and on the face of it, it’s kind of stupid, but if a net worth of $1.8 billion can’t buy you a brand-new, high-elevation ski town in critical wildlife habitat, what’s the point of being ridiculously rich?

Dan Olson is executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.