Thursday, May 30, 2019

UPDATE Village at Wolf Creek - May 28, 2019 - Back to Court.

Here we go again, news from :
We filed suit on Tuesday to challenge the US Forest Service's approval to grant increased road access to the Village at Wolf Creek

As you may remember, last year, the Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas signed a Final Record of Decision that provided expanded access across National Forest System lands to the private parcel created during the controversial 1986 land exchange. That private parcel, proposed home to the "Village" at Wolf Creek, is in the middle of a critical widllife corridor between two wilderness areas vital to threatened Canada lynx and home to rare fen wetlands and the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

The decision was based on the same environmental analysis that the late Judge Matsch deemed "an artful dodge" and ruled was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law on Endangered Species Day in 2017. In fact, Courts have repeatedly blocked attempts to fast track approvals and skimp on environmental analysis and public input.

We had called for the Forest Service to conduct a new environmental impact statement that fully considered the impact to species like the Canada lynx, but the Forest Service decided instead to give the developers increased road access. 

Well, on Tuesday, we, along with our partners, once again filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate that Final Record of Decision.

To help fund further efforts to protect Wolf Creek Pass, please visit our donation webpage and select "Friends of Wolf Creek" under "Direct My Donation."


For the wild!

Chris Talbot-Heindl

For more information about the battle to keep Wolf Creek Pass wild, visit the Friends of Wolf Creek website

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PRESS RELEASE: Conservation Groups Challenge Forest Service Again Over Approval of Village at Wolf Creek

Published by Chris Talbot-Heindl on 

http://www.friendsofwolfcreek.org/press-release-conservation-groups-challenge-forest-service-again-over-approval-of-village-at-wolf-creek/
     
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Conservation groups challenge road access for Village at Wolf Creek

Forest Service says environmental reviews sound
By Jonathan Romeo, County and environment reporter
Tuesday, May 28, 2019


A coalition of environmental groups Tuesday filed a challenge of the U.S. Forest Service’s approval last year to grant road access to the Village at Wolf Creek, a decision that ultimately paves the way for the proposed massive development atop Wolf Creek Pass.
“Once again, it falls to the public to demand protection of Wolf Creek Pass, a place long cherished by generations of visitors and residents alike,” said Jimbo Buickerood, lands program manager at San Juan Citizens Alliance, in a prepared statement. “Though the Forest Service might be inclined to renege on its stewardship responsibilities, we are ready to insist on compliance with the law and the public’s will.” …

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Durango Telegraph - Caught Red-handed stealing land - April 4, 2019


Yes, this is a rewrite of an earlier post, revised after giving it some more thought, I like to think improved, so I sent it to the Durango Telegraph.

Dear Editor of the Durango Telegraph,

Here’s the latest twist in the never-ending saga of Red McCombs Village at Wolf Creek pipe-dream.  Seems that Friends of Wolf Creek got tired of waiting for their legitimate FOIA request to be honored.  Nothing had been handed over although the deadline had passed well over 200 days earlier.

Early March a U.S. Magistrate stepped in and ordered the Forest Service to start releasing those papers. This has the usual suspects all up in arms about how poor old McCombs’ is being abused by "out of control" environmentalists.

“There is a law that says the USFS has to grant access to inholdings,” … McCombs has a sacred property owners right to develop that land if he wants, curses to those damned environmentalists for playing legal hardball.

But wait, there's more to this.  We The People firmly believe this is a property rights dispute alright.  Our property was stolen from us and we have an ethical duty to fight tooth and nail with every legal tool at our disposal until that property gets returned to its rightful owner, the American People via the Rio Grande National Forest. ... (con't)

INDEX of VWC-EIS ...


Contents 

Issue 1: The village proposal expands impacts of the federally permitted ski area development
Issue 2: Judicial orders preclude reliance on FEIS
Issue 3: The Forest Service has never made Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture’s proposal (ANILCA alternative) available for review by the public or other local, State, and Federal agencies with jurisdiction and control over the Wolf Creek Ski Area complex 
Issue 4: The purpose and need and designation of the NEPA “Federal Action” are invalid
Issue 5: The FEIS perpetuates the same structural flaws addressed by the previous injunction and settlement
Issue 6: The range of alternatives considered is inappropriately narrow

Issue 7: Alternatives involving mitigation measures and ANILCA terms and conditions were not analyzed
Issue 8: The no-action alternative is inappropriately dismissed
Issue 9: The Forest Service failed to incorporate the input of several key cooperating agencies
Issue 10: ANILCA and existing Forest Service regulations do not require enhanced road access be provided to the federally encumbered Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture parcels
Issue 11: New information and stale (dated) analysis requires new NEPA process
Issue 12: ANILCA as preferred alternative is not compared to other alternatives
Issue 13: The consideration of connected actions and indirect and cumulative impacts in the DEIS is inadequate
Issue 14: The property appraisal confirms adequate access and comparable properties exist
Issue 15: The effects on wetlands are inadequately analyzed
Issue 16: The ANILCA alternative would lead to a loss of Canada lynx habitat and reduced functioning of an important Canada lynx linkage
Issue 17: The proposed decision would violate standards, guidelines, and objectives for lynx conservation
Issue 18: Spruce bark beetle impacts on lynx habitat requires additional analysis
Issue 19: The proposed conservation measures would not be effective in reducing impacts to lynx nor promoting recovery to a full, viable population
Issue 20: The Lynx Conservation Strategy was developed without any public involvement, in violation of NEPA
Issue 21: Application of any conservation measures is at best uncertain
Issue 22: The action alternatives would harm other wildlife
Issue 23: The action alternatives would reduce water quality
Issue 24: Lack of mitigation measures
Issue 25: Water supply for either action alternative may not be sufficient or reliable
Issue 26: In violation of NEPA, the FEIS fails to analyze the feasibility of, and the possible impacts from, a grade separated interchange at the village access road with Highway 160
Issue 27: The FEIS fails to analyze the comparative impacts of expanding federal control via the scenic easement
Issue 28: Failure to reinitiate consultation for the yellow-billed cuckoo pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act
Issue 29: Bias and proponent control of the third party NEPA contractor was built into the contract
Issue 30: Failure to consider new information
Issue 31: Failure to consider the best available scienceIssue 32: Failure to adhere to NEPA’s public involvement mandates
Issue 33: Reasonable use and enjoyment that minimizes environmental effects requires an analysis of the visual effects to the congressionally designated Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses. 


November 15, 2018




VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses #1, #2

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest 
November 2018 
Village at Wolf Creek Access Project Draft 11/15/18
Objection Issues and Responses 
Contents 
Issue 1: The village proposal expands impacts of the federally permitted ski area development
Issue 2: Judicial orders preclude reliance on FEIS

VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses #3, #4, #5, #6

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2018
Index of VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses. 33 issues addressed 

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest

My post of the "Index of the VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses" has been amazingly well visited.  Ironically, I also put together a series of posts of highlights from those 33 responses.  Then I ran out of steam and it didn't seem important, and other matters were, and I was gone, now I'm thinking perhaps it's more important than I thought and that it would be good to post them after all.
___________________________________________________________________
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest 
November 2018 
Village at Wolf Creek Access Project Draft 11/15/18
Objection Issues and Responses 
Contents 
Issue 3: The Forest Service has never made Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture’s proposal (ANILCA alternative) available for review by the public or other local, State, and Federal agencies with jurisdiction and control over the Wolf Creek Ski Area complex
Issue 4: The purpose and need and designation of the NEPA “Federal Action” are invalid
Issue 5: The FEIS perpetuates the same structural flaws addressed by the previous injunction and settlement
Issue 6: The range of alternatives considered is inappropriately narrow

VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses #7, #8, #9 #10

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2018
Index of VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses. 33 issues addressed 

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest

My post of the "Index of the VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses" has been amazingly well visited.  Ironically, I also put together a series of posts of highlights from those 33 responses.  Then I ran out of steam and it didn't seem important, and other matters were, and I was gone, now I'm thinking perhaps it's more important than I thought and that it would be good to post them after all.
___________________________________________________________________
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest 
November 2018 Village at Wolf Creek Access Project Draft 11/15/18
Objection Issues and Responses 
Contents 
Issue 7: Alternatives involving mitigation measures and ANILCA terms and conditions were not analyzed
Issue 8: The no-action alternative is inappropriately dismissed
Issue 9: The Forest Service failed to incorporate the input of several key cooperating agencies
Issue 10: ANILCA and existing Forest Service regulations do not require enhanced road access be provided to the federally encumbered Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture parcels

VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses #11, #12 #13

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2018
Index of VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses. 33 issues addressed 

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest

My post of the "Index of the VWC-EIS, Objection Issues and Responses" has been amazingly well visited.  Ironically, I also put together a series of posts of highlights from those 33 responses.  Then I ran out of steam and it didn't seem important, and other matters were, and I was gone, now I'm thinking perhaps it's more important than I thought and that it would be good to post them after all.
___________________________________________________________________
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Rocky Mountain Regional Office 
Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, Rio Grande National Forest 
November 2018 
Contents 
Issue 11: New information and stale (dated) analysis requires new NEPA process
Issue 12: ANILCA as preferred alternative is not compared to other alternatives
Issue 13: The consideration of connected actions and indirect and cumulative impacts in the DEIS is inadequate