“Isn’t that over? Wasn’t McCombs’ deal approved?”
I keep hearing this, despite the fact that San Juan Citizens Alliance, and Friends of Wolf Creek partners, continue fighting tooth and nail (in three lawsuits) to prevent the construction of a massive development on Wolf Creek Pass.
But the battle is far from over. We haven’t lost; if anything, we’re digging our nails in further.
It’s true: Last spring the Forest Service approved a land swap that paves the way for development. The approval hands Texas billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs highway access to his private property, allowing him to build his “Village at Wolf Creek” – an 8,000-person, year-round resort the size of Aspen. It is understandable that some people think we’ve lost.
But, in the words of late, great Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
We sued the Forest Service for approving the swap despite a deep lack of transparency and violation of environmental laws. We also reached an agreement with developers not to break ground until the decision plays out in court, thereby preserving the ability to reverse the deal should we prevail.
So, the battle isn’t over. We’re confident we’ve got a good chance to win in court. Here’s why:
- We have an extremely strong case. In 2006 the Forest Service approved road access, allowing McCombs to develop. We sued them over their bogus Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and we won. The approval this spring was based on a second EIS, in which the Forest Service made many of the same mistakes. It’s the same story: They’re choosing to elevate the interests of one rich individual over those of the public and the environment – and that doesn’t hold up well in court. (Detailed History of Wolf Creek)
- Time’s up. For the last year and a half the Forest Service has done everything they can to avoid public requests for information concerning the approval. Well, even though we had to fight them in court over it, and the judge granted them even more time to comply, it’s the end of the line. This month we’ll receive tens of thousands of Forest Service documents and correspondence that reveal what really happened in the deal.
- Me. As the Wolf Creek Organizer I’ve been coordinating widespread opposition to this irresponsible development and we’re already seeing progress. So far our high-level federal officials and elected representatives haven’t gotten very involved. But, as a result of the new information we’re receiving, they will be getting their first real look at how this deal was struck. If they hear from enough of us, perhaps they will use their power to intervene.
- You. Your participation is more crucial than ever right now. We have an extensive list of ways you can speak out and be heard. Many of you have already written and called your representatives numerous times, you feel ignored and dejected. But don’t give up; we must keep pushing to be heard.
Right now it’s my job to keep you updated: Through our blog series, “Wolf Creek Files,” I’ll let you know what incriminating evidence we get from the released documents as we dig through them. Keep your eyes and ears open by following us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Most importantly: We need you to share the story of Wolf Creek Pass with everyone you can. Show the world that the fight isn’t over – that it’s yours to win.
Why protect Wolf Creek Pass?
Wolf Creek Pass is part of an invaluable wildlife migration corridor, biologically diverse ecosystem, and treasured backcountry recreation wilderness worthy of complete protection. The proposed “Village at Wolf Creek” is founded on unlawful and insufficient environmental review processes and critically threatens wildlife, backcountry recreation areas, nearby local businesses, rare fen wetlands, and the water quality and quantity of the Rio Grande River headwaters – to name a few. For a more detailed list of our grievances visit: www.sanjuancitizens.org/wolf-creek.