Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wolf Creek news expected

(Photo of Wolf Creek lodge by RH Pitcher)

From The Associated Press:

Regional Forester Rick Cables (U.S. Forest Service) will announce Friday whether he will reverse or modify a decision allowing new roads at Wolf Creek ski area. The proposed roads are a key step in plans for a massive development there.

In April, the agency approved the construction of two short roads in the Rio Grande National Forest for access to the proposed Village at Wolf Creek, which eventually could include 222,100 square feet of commercial space and housing for up to 10,500

Both sides in the long-running battle appealed. Three separate appeals by opponents said the Forest Service greatly underestimated the impact of the project when it approved the roads and said the agency was improperly influenced by the developer.

The developers said 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.

Opponents fear the development will hurt the environment and overtax schools and other services in tiny Mineral County, home to fewer than 1,000 full-time residents. Supporters say it will bring much-needed jobs and tax revenue to an economically depressed part of the state.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., has asked the Agriculture Department, which oversees the Forest Service, to determine whether politics were behind the approval of the roads.

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