From: Chris Talbot-Heindl
Communications and Membership Manager
The Wolf Creek Case briefs are in!
At the start of this month, Rocky Mountain Wild submitted the Reply brief for the Wolf Creek case! Now we wait on Judge Matsch to make a decision. If we are successful, the lawsuit would reverse the 2015 decision by the Forest Service to approve a land exchange providing critical road access needed for the 8,000 person "village" on Wolf Creek Pass.
This case details how the Forest Service unlawfully limited the scope of the environmental analysis and used the process to benefit a private business over the good of the public. Despite the site of the proposed development being located in crucial habitat for the endangered Canada lynx, a wildlife corridor linking two major Wilderness areas, and containing rare fen wetlands, the Forest Service did not properly analyze protections or demand mitigation as part of the land transfer.
In a related Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case, Judge Martinez ruled that the Forest Service did not have to collect and disclose records in the possession of the contractors who prepared the environmental analysis underlying the Forest Service's land transfer decision. Although we already succeeded in obtaining thousands of government records in this case, the Court's decision on this issue insulated the private contractor records leaving unanswered questions as to whether or not the developer exerted undue influence over the private contractors and what information was before the contractors that didn't make it into analysis provided to the public. While the denial is troubling, we believe the merits case is still strong.
Press Release: "Final Arguments, Filings Against Massive Development at Wolf Creek in Judge's Hands"
Article in The Durango Herald: "Future of Village at Wolf Creek awaits judge's decision"
Blog post about ski area character: "Glitz and Glamour at Wolf Creek?"
Blog post about Canada lynx: "The “Village” at Wolf Creek Pass – a disaster for the Endangered Species Act listed Canada lynx"