Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Rumble over a ski road

The standoff over Wolf Creek development continues

From the Associated Press:

Both sides in the contentious battle over the Wolf Creek development have appealed U.S. Forest Service approval of access roads to the remote site.

Developers of the Village at Wolf Creek said Wednesday the decision unfairly requires them to build a 750-foot road at cost of about $12 million, when a shorter extension of an existing road would be cheaper and have less environmental impact.

Two environmental groups and a citizens group said the Forest Service’s study of the proposal was flawed and said the agency was improperly influenced by the developer.

Texas billionaire Bill Joe “Red” McCombs wants to build shops and housing for up to 10,500 people at the Wolf Creek ski area.

Opponents fear the development will hurt the environment and overtax schools and other services. Supporters say it will bring much-needed jobs and tax revenue to an economically depressed part of the state.

Last month, the Forest Service released its long-awaited decision approving road construction for the development. The decision called for a new 750-foot road for primary access to the site from U.S. 160, and a 250-foot extension of an existing road to link the development to ski area parking lots.

When the ski area is open, access to the latter road would be limited to emergency and mass-transit vehicles.

Bob Honts, president of the Village at Wolf Creek, the company developing the project, objected to building the longer road.

“They’ve effectively denied our federal right to have meaningful access to our property,” Honts said. “Building that second road could affect the financial viability of the project.”

An appeal by Colorado Wild, the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council and the San Juan Citizens Alliance said the Forest Service ignored environmental impacts and violated conservation laws and legally binding scenic easement.

Stay tuned...

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