Another Huge victory for the Friends of Wolf Creek!
On Thursday Oct 4th, US District Court Judge John Kane halted billionaire developer Red McCombs’ plans to begin road construction to his controversial year-round resort development. Following Magistrate Judge David West’s June 6th recommendations, Judge Kane’s order identifies numerous potential flaws and logical inconsistencies in the US Forest Service’s decision to authorize the building of roads through the national forest, and shed light on developer McCombs’ influence over the Forest Service’s approval process. After thoughtful deliberation, the Judge extended the Preliminary Injunction (PI) that has prevented, since last fall, any road construction or other Village related activity until the Court has had an opportunity to issue a final decision on our legal claims.
The lawsuit challenges the US Forest Service’s decision to authorize construction of two access roads across public lands for the purpose of building the proposed 10,000 person “Village” without analyzing the environmental impacts of the proposed development.
Judge Kane’s Order clears the way for the public’s concerns to be heard by the Court before any construction begins. Although it has been a long road to get here, the Court’s impartial review is a breath of fresh air after the Forest Service’s tainted analysis and decision.
The Judges Order recognizes the public’s interest in this development:
“The thousands of public comments submitted on the draft EIS, the majority of which reportedly opposed [Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture] access request and development plans, also demonstrate the public interest in maintaining the status quo by not allowing the Forest Service and [Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture] to begin implementation of the [decision] until this challenge to the Forest Service’s decision is fully resolved.”
The Court’s Order also speaks directly to the problems with the whole Village process. The assumptions that guided the development of the EIS just don’t hold water. For example, as Judge Kane writes:
“I am also at a loss to understand how (Leavell-McCombs) could represent to the Forest Service during the EIS process that it could and would construct the Village utilizing only FSR 391 and now contend that it cannot even conduct preliminary survey, baseline engineering and design work for the Village unless it has vehicular access to the property via an extended Tranquility Road.”
Now that the Court has seen our arguments, it has ordered a halt to all activity on the proposed Village until a final decision is issued in the case. We expect the case to continue through the upcoming winter before a final decision is reached.
Thanks to all of you for making these efforts possible. Not only have we reserved another Village-free winter at Wolf Creek, but we are now well positioned to force a fresh look at the Village and its thus far unregulated impacts. Yesterday’s ruling takes us one huge step closer to preserving a Wild Wolf Creek Pass.