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SJCA Guide to

Wolf Creek

For 30 years we’ve fought to protect Wolf Creek Pass (WCP) from an 8,000-person ski resort development. But the battle is far from over.

The Story

For decades, out-of-state developer B.J. “Red” McCombs has pursued his vision for a “Village at Wolf Creek” – a city of 8,000 people – at the top of Wolf Creek Pass (WCP). This massive development would be roughly the population of Aspen.

WCP, 20 miles from the nearest town, is a remote landscape that is entirely surrounded by National Forest. Construction of the Village at Wolf Creek would dramatically impact the entire region. The proposal indefensibly disregards ecosystem health, wildlife necessities, and public interests.

The “Village at Wolf Creek” development threatens:

 

  • A critical southern Rockies wildlife corridor
  • Backcountry recreation opportunities
  • Nearby local businesses
  • Rare, valuable fen wetlands
  • Water quality and quantity for downstream land users and anglers
  • Views from the highway and the Continental Divide Trail

RELEASE:

We’ve received the Administrative Record from the Forest Service for our legal case. Click below for details.  

Before Village at Wolf Creek

What WCP looks like now.

What is the “Village at Wolf Creek”?

The Village at Wolf Creek is planned to be an 8,000-person village containing 1,711 units comprised of hotels, condominiums, townhomes, single-family lots, and a commercial center.

Village at Wolf Creek Rendering

A model of the complete proposed “Village.”

The History

In 1986 Leavell Properties, Inc. (later joined by Texas billionaire B. J. “Red” McCombs to form the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture, or LMJV) swapped land with the United States Forest Service to obtain a property on top of Wolf Creek Pass (WCP) surround by Forest Service land. McCombs, who now spearheads the project, expanded the plan to his “Village at Wolf Creek.” In order to construct the Village at Wolf creek, however, LMJV needs Forest Service approval to gain year-round highway access to the isolated property.

Since the beginnig, the “Friends of Wolf Creek” – a coalition of environmental groups from around the state – have fought to ensure the development is never realized. So far we’ve been able to keep construction at bay, forcing the Forest Service to hand over documents and rewrite Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). In 2006, we sued the Forest Service for inappropriately colluding with the developer during environmental assessments, and won. This year our partner Rocky Mountain Wild (RMW) sued the Forest Service twice for disregarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. RMW won the first case and the second is in process.

Currently, we are in a legal battle with the Forest Service on the grounds they avoided a thorough analysis of the environmental impacts of development in their latest EIS, and that they failed to meet independent review requirements. We are arguing that they assessed only the environmental and public impacts of giving McCombs highway access, essentially ignoring the immense impacts of building a city at 10,400’. Developers have agreed to halt construction until this lawsuit is settled in court.

It’s been a long 30-year long journey, but we are committed to ensuring no Village at Wolf Creek is ever built.

For more detailed information please read our 1-page “Complete History of Wolf Creek.

Views of Wolf Creek

WHAT (1)

The Issues

We want the United States Forest Service (USFS) to stop making decisions to please out-of-state billionaires, but rather make decisions that are in the public interest – as they were created to do. We are certain that if they do their job correctly, the Village at Wolf Creek Pass (WCP) will never be allowed.

1. Legal

The Forest Service isn’t doing their job.

1. Legal

The Forest Service isn’t doing their job.

The USFS, influenced by the developers, has gone to great lengths to avoid a full, thorough, legal environmental analysis of the proposed “Village at Wolf Creek” subject to proper public review.

  • The USFS has a history of colluding with the developers.
  • The USFS has avoided thorough analysis of the environmental impacts of development.
  • The USFS has failed to meet independent review requirements.
  • The USFS disregarded two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.


2. Environment

WCP is a vital Colorado ecosystem.

2. Environment

WCP is an invaluable Colorado ecosystem.

Wolf Creek Pass is identified by many conservation organizations as an extremely valuable southern Rockies ecosystem that the “Village at Wolf Creek” seriously endangers.

  • WCP is a key migration corridor for elk, deer, and threatened Canada lynx. (see maps below)
  • WCP is home to rare, fragile Colorado fen wetlands.
  • Development would likely negatively impact water quality and quantity in the Rio Grande Watershed.
  • WCP receives the most snowfall in Colorado, which provides ideal habitat for endangered Lynx, and possibly reintroduced wolverines.
  • Increased winter traffic on dangerously winding roads will result in more traffic accidents, including more wildlife-traffic accidents.
  • Concentrated snowpack on top of the pass contributes to late season flow to the Rio Grande River.

3. Community

Local communities will suffer the costs.

3. Community


The main beneficiaries of the “Village at Wolf Creek” would be the developers, not the local communities which could, in fact, be negatively impacted by economic competition, overuse of public resources, and changes in culture.

  • Tax revenue would benefit towns far away, but public costs would fall on closer municipalities.
  • The “village” would increase pressure on local public services (e.g. emergency) in Pagosa Springs over 25 hazardous miles away.
  • The new commercial center would compete with existing local businesses.
  • WCP is at 10,400’: out-of-state tourists will face altitude related emergencies.
  • The “village” would change the unique and remote Wolf Creek Ski Area.
  • A large development would devalue backcountry activities: e.g. backcountry skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing.
  • Impacts to downstream Rio Grande water quality and quantity have not been adequately analyzed.
Area of state for the Village at Wolf Creek
Proposed site of the Village at Wolf Creek

Take Action!

Right now we’re in a legal battle with the Forest Service for failing to adequately assess the potential environmental impacts of the “Village at Wolf Creek” development. The best way you can help is by asking your representatives to speak up for Wolf Creek Pass and pressure the Forest Service to make things right. The actions below will help you reach out to your politicians and stay in touch with us.

number41 (2)Sign the Letter

You can personalize this form letter or send as is to Senator Bennet, Senator Gardner, and Representative Tipton. Take two minutes to sign and send the letter, and then share it.

number40Write your representatives

Personalized letters take a bit longer to write but they hold more weight. Handwrite and mail a letter to your senators and representatives, or Forest Service employees. Click here for a list of talking points and addresses.

number37Call your representatives

Your voice is your most powerful tool. Call your representatives today and express your concerns about the “Village” proposal and the Forest Service’s role in approving the land exchange. Click here for a list of contact numbers and talking points.

Write a letter to the editor

Writing to the press is an effective way to spread the word. Click here for a list of compelling talking points and press contact information.

number39Stay Updated

Sign up for our email list here. You’ll receive the most recent Wolf Creek news and new ways you can help. Also, sign up to be a member, you’ll become an active and essential contributor to the cause.

Join the conversation

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to add your voice to the dialogue about Wolf Creek. Don’t forget to use the #NoPillage hashtag.

Donate

We’ve only had the capacity to fight for Wolf Creek for three decades because of generous donations from friends like you. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, will truly make a difference in the outcome of this battle.

Tweet about it

Our elected officials pay attention to what is said about/to them on social media. Tweet at your representatives and express your concerns. Tweet ideas included below (mobile) or to the right (desktop). Always add #NoPillage to your message.

#NoPillage Interviews

Stay Informed About the Fight to Stop the Village at Wolf Creek.

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Recent News (More)

Picture of development location at Wolf Creek

Final Arguments, Filings Against Massive Wolf Creek Development in Judge’s Hands

| Lands Protection, Wolf Creek | No Comments

We submitted final arguments in our latest battle to protect Wolf Creek Pass last Friday. The lawsuit, filed together with Rocky Mountain Wild and San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, seeks to reverse the Forest Service’s 2015 decision to approve a land exchange, providing…

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Photo of skiers at Wolf Creek

Pillage at Wolf Creek – Fall 2016 Update

| Lands Protection, Wolf Creek | 4 Comments

Are they still trying to build that Village at Wolf Creek? Yes. And we’re still fighting it. In fact, we just filed an opening brief in the U.S District Court of Colorado as a part of our most recent lawsuit to…

A Wolf Creek Update: Building our case

| Lands Protection, Wolf Creek | No Comments

So, you probably know we’re suing the Forest Service over their decision last year that paves the way for Red McCombs’ long-dreaded Village at Wolf Creek. Maybe you also know that our partners filed 2 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)…