Monday, August 2, 2010

August first 2010 Update

{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}


From the Durango Herald

June 18, 2010
Wolf Creek Village Makes New Bid -
Developers seek environmental review of proposed land trade to build resort
by Joe Hanel - Herald Denver Bureau

"The June 7 proposal to the Forest Service formally starts an environmental review that could take 18 months or more. Officials at Rio Grande National Forest said Thursday they are doing an initial review of the plan to decide whether it is complete enough to even accept. If they do accept it, that will trigger a long process that includes public involvement..."

July 30, 2010
"Wolf Creek Village Redefines Project -
Minor boundary adjustments proposed for resort land swap"
by Shane Benjamin - Herald Staff Writer

"Developers of the Village at Wolf Creek have modified plans for a proposed land swap near the top of Wolf Creek Pass, where a resort town with ski-in and ski-out access is envisioned.

"The amended plan is similar to one submitted earlier this year by developers, but it makes slight boundary adjustments to accommodate the realignment of a ski lift that would link the village and Wolf Creek Ski Area. It also includes two alternate plans should the U.S. Forest Service reject the land swap..."


Letter to the Durango Herald

Dear Editor,
Clint Jones, Village at Wolf Creek project leader from Austin, Texas (elevation 500’), says his reminted land exchange offer “is in the best interest of all parties, including the public.” How does he justify this conclusion when he won’t even acknowledge, let alone discuss, the many problems with the VWC concept both environmental and financial; problems that tweaking boundaries won’t fix?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Regarding the swap - letter to the Durango Telegraph

Coming back from the State Democratic Convention, I finally had the time to do something I’d wanted to for years. Track down and actually look at the land I’ve always treated with derision. A derision based on long ago secondhand stories of what someone else thought they knew and my own opposition to developing Alberta Park.

Although the land trade information is fairly obscure, Forest Service personnel were very helpful. After hop-scotching a couple people, having a little patience, there it was, the legal descriptions to nine parcels that Mr. McCombs traded for Alberta Park. Armed with that information I detoured to the Saguache County Court House & Forest Service Field Office where everyone was friendly and helpful in translating the legal descriptions into rough locations on the map.

I knew my notions were in trouble before Ieaving town in search of the “traded parcels.” They cluster around CR.41G about ten miles west of Hwy 285, south of Saguache. Very nice Mid-elevation country.

I wound up driving near or past six parcels feeling chagrined. I could see how the foresters out of Saguache district rejoiced at stitching those inholdings into the protection of the National Forest. I could even see how Mr. McCombs probably felt it was a square deal. In fact, when imagining what went on, back in 1986, in that Washington office (where the Interior Dept. overturned RGNF’s rejection of the land trade) a whole new layer of intrigue appears.

But then, from a citizen’s perspective it immediately begs the question: why must Alberta Park be sacrificed to gain protection for these other worthy parcels?

None of the virtue of what McCombs traded, justifies Alberta Park being bulldozed for a doomed speculation. Especially, not in the face of the challenges we will be grappling with these next years. Precious clean mountain water is a commodity we can’t afford to squander.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Inviting Concise Rational Submissions

I started this website because I believe We The People need a tool for rationally explaining why the speculative Village at Wolf Creek project near the Great Divide should be scrapped in favor of returning that land to a protected status.

I have added what information I felt I could. However, there are many other problems with the Village at Wolf Creek regarding wildlife habitat and migration corridors. Then, there is that unique Fens area and the rest of the wetlands network up there. Then, infrastructure and highway access and more.

I can’t speak to those issues with any authority. But, some of you out there can.

Can You offer some concise descriptions/arguments regarding unmentioned aspects of the VWC plans that deserve a skeptical eye?


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Back Story ~ Village at Wolf Creek ~ presented by Ryan Bidwell


{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}
~ ~ ~

Ryan Bidwell, Executive Director of Colorado Wild describes the Village at Wolf Creek history and current status.

A nine part series by
Filmed - October, 2009

Interestingly, the next day Mr. Clint Jones, the VWC developer, was giving his 'Village at Wolf Creek sales pitch' at the same venue, but Mr. Jones refused to allow West Davies to record his presentation.

Sounds like the developer of the Village at Wolf Creek isn’t willing to stand behind his words, by allowing them to be recorded.

More cause for healthy skepticism!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more background there's a very interesting Denver Post expose' by Mike Soraghan, February 5, 2006 - Section: 1A Page: A-01.

The Wolf Creek Development Tangled With Political Ties
Mike Soraghan, Denver Post Staff Writer


Monday, March 1, 2010

Letter to the Durango Herald ~ Develop Wolf Creek?

February 26, 2010

{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}
~ ~ ~

Dear Durango Herald Editor,
Wednesday February 17 Congressman Salazar held an informative VWC panel discussion with representatives from government, business, environmental groups including Mr. McCombs and Mr. Jones the developer.

Mr. McCombs the ever optimistic salesman spoke of a first class luxury resort and all the jobs it would bring the local economy.

There seemed a general consensus to develop Alberta Park. Why, because we’re desperate for any financial growth.

Questioning the Soundness of "Red's" Plan

Friday, February 26, 2010

{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}
~ ~ ~

The following was another letter to the Durango Telegraph sharing further thoughts on why the dreams of developing Alberta Park at Wolf Creek Pass or its immediate surroundings should be canceled.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

February 17 Congressman Salazar held an informative VWC panel discussion with representatives from government, business, environmental groups, Mr. McCombs and Mr. Jones the developer. The Congressman’s goal was to get all the stakeholders together and find a path toward consensus so that the Village at Wolf Creek project could finally move forward.

Everyone seemed clear on why we need this project. Our mountains are desperate for economic stimulus. Mr. McCombs was optimistic in assuring us that he would build a first class luxury resort and provide local economic growth.

* VWC at 10'300 feet & Altitude Sickness

Friday, February 26, 2010

{image from Friends of Wolf}
~ ~ ~

The Ignored Issue:
The Medical Safety Of Residents At This Extreme Elevation.

This parcel is higher than any other US overnight resort.

At 10,300’ our lungs absorb a third less oxygen than at sea level.

This alone creates a raft of potential medical, marketing, even ethical, perhaps legal liability questions since medical experts advise against lowlanders spending nights at that extreme altitude.

Check out these links to authoritative informative:

Altitude Illness

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Peter H. Hackett, David R. Shlim


The stresses of the high-altitude environment include cold, low humidity, increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and decreased air pressure, all of which can cause problems for travelers. The greatest concern, however, is hypoxia. At 10,000 ft (3,000 m), for example, the inspired PO2 is only 69% of sea-level value. The degree of hypoxic stress depends upon altitude, rate of ascent, and duration of exposure. Sleeping at high altitude produces the greatest hypoxia; day trips to high altitude with return to low altitude are much less stressful on the body.


The human body adjusts very well to moderate hypoxia, but requires time to do so (Box 2-3). The process of acute acclimatization to high altitude takes 3–5 days; therefore, acclimatizing for a few days at 8,000–9,000 ft before proceeding to higher altitude is ideal. Acclimatization prevents altitude illness, improves sleep, and increases comfort and well-being, although exercise performance will always be reduced compared with low altitude. Increase in ventilation is the most important factor in acute acclimatization; therefore, respiratory depressants must be avoided. Increased red-cell production does not play a role in acute acclimatization.

Risk for Travelers

Inadequate acclimatization may lead to altitude illness in any traveler going to 8,000 ft (2,500 m) or higher. Susceptibility and resistance to altitude illness are genetic traits, and no screening tests are available to predict risk. Risk is not affected by training or physical fitness. Children are equally susceptible as adults; persons >50 years of age have slightly lower risk. How a traveler has responded to high altitude previously is the most reliable guide for future trips but is not infallible. However, given certain baseline susceptibility, risk is greatly influenced by rate of ascent and exertion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

International Society for Mountain Medicine

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Institute For Altitude Medicine in Telluride

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

High Altitude Medicine Guide

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Outdoor Action Guide to
 High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Merck online Manuel

* Luxury Resorts Going Bust

Friday, February 26, 2010

A project like "Red" McCombs' Village at Wolf Creek would be a gamble in the best of times. Considering, today's business climate with it's spare future outlook, this Village at Wolf Creek seems like the height of folly.

There is good reason for pessimism and caution!
Below is a list of troubled resorts, each name is linked to a news source:


Hudson Valley Resort & Spa, New York

East West Resort Development, Lake Tahoe, NV

Anguilla Resort, Caribbean

Los Abrigados Resort & Spa - Diamond Resorts, Sedona, AZ

Daufuskie Island Resort & Breathe Spa, South Carolina

Dellis Cay development, Caribbean

Tierra Del Sol Resort, Florida

Rivers Inlet Resort, British Columbia

Point Breeze Hotel, Nantucket Island

Tamarack Resort, Valley County, Idaho

Hunt Resort, Fitzroy Island, Great Barrier Reef

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc, all over

Yellowstone Club, Montana

La Manga Club, southern Spain

Rancho Manana, Cave Creek, AZ

The Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, NY

Transmontagne, Alps, Switzerland

Extended Stay Hotels, USA

W Hotel , San Diago, CA

Dubai's Istithmar World & 42nd Street at Broadway, NY, NY

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
But wait, there's more . . .

Distressed CRE Assets Jump 15% at Nation's Banks

"...The amount of distressed commercial real estate assets on the books of the nation's banks and thrifts approached $60 billion as of year-end 2009. That is up from $52 billion just three months earlier, a 15% increase. The $59.9 billion includes loans..."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here's another news round up, read on . . .

From Luxist:, "a web site dedicated to covering the best the world has to offer on a variety of luxury and fine living topics."

A review of 14... click here: Luxist


Locally the situation isn't much better.

Look at the lower elevation areas around Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado ~ they have a frightening saturation of unsold vacation homes, as documented in a Pagosa Sun article by James Robinson (7-8-9). Why add to the glut?

Also see Mark Pearson's March 5, 2009 Durango Herald's story "
(Luxury) Resorts morph into "toxic" real estate assets.

* Who's Who of Who to Contact

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The driver:
Mr. B.J. "Red" McCombs

The developer:
Mr. Clint Jones

12117 Bee Cave Road, Suite 240
Austin, Texas 78738


The congressman:
Honorable US Representative John Salazar

326 Cannon HOB

Washington, DC 20515


Aide to Congressman Salazar:
John Whitney

Mineral County Commissioners

Jim Adelman, Chuck Fairchild, Karl Kolisch

Rio Grande County Commissioners

Doug Davie, Robert Hagedorn, Dennis Murphy

Archuleta County Commissioner – District 1

John Ranson
Archuleta County Commissioner – District 2
Clifford Lucero
Archuleta County Commissioner – District 3

Robert Moomaw

Town of Pagosa Springs

Ross Aragon, Mayor

Darrel Cotton, Council Member
Stan Holt, Council Member
Jerry Jackson, Council Member
Shari Pierce, Council Member

Don Volger, Council Member

Mark Weiler, Council Member

U.S. Senator Mark Udall

Hart Office Building 
Suite SH-317

Washington, D.C. 20510

Aide to Senator Udall:

Wanda Cason

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet

702 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Aide to Senator Bennet:

Charlotte Bobicki


* Congressman Salazar, Question the VWC proposal

Saturday, February 17, 2010

Open letter to
Congressman Salazar’s VWC Discussion Panel on future approaches to the proposed development of the Alberta Park area.
Adam State College, Alamosa, Colorado ~ 2-17-10
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}
~ ~ ~

Honorable Congressman Salazar and panel members,
I respectfully submit the following list of issues & questions deserving to be addressed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It must be noted this parcel of land was originally set aside, within the protective fold of the Rio Grande National Forest, for the benefit of all Americans by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1911.

Then, on February 20, 1986, in a back room of the US Department of Agriculture, a Washington DC insider countermanded the Rio Grande National Forest’s land exchange process which had rejected Mr. McCombs’ lopsided land swap proposal.

> In essence this parcel was victim to an illegitimate hostile take over. . .

The People do have the right to hope for its return to the American land trust.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Beyond that, there’s the actual biological productivity of that land to consider.
Alberta Park is a “keystone parcel” within an integral carpet of land that is the Wolf Creek watershed, source waters to the interstate, international Rio Grande River.

~ ~ ~
Wildlife corridors and living space for a large variety of animals.
The pristine fens area is biologically productive on a grand scale.
The area is a massive water filter, purifier and reservoir.
Simply leaving it as it stands has multiple economic benefits.

> These aspects get downplayed > yet deserve to reign center stage.

~ ~ ~
Plow a development into the middle of it and that sweet water will turn into reused gray water and the wildlife sanctuary, fens, watershed will suffer cascading losses.
> Given current global trends, clean water resources are among our most precious commodities... isn’t protecting this unique resource an imperative concern ?

~ ~ ~
Why complicate local life with the legal Water Rights court battles that will ensue any actual diversion of massive amounts of water shares into that speculative village?

~ ~ ~
Question the project’s realism:

Considering current financial world realities - where will the people come from for this luxury get-away at 10,000'? Or put another way...
How does one justify such 1990s developer dreams in the face of the obviously leaner, meaner 2010s we are heading into?

Wishing the good old days back doesn’t justify gambling away this world class pristine irreplaceable watershed resource for a questionable,
nay, doomed pipedream.

~ ~ ~
The public health challenge:

In particular the health risks associated with lowlanders sleeping at 10,000’ elevation.

Who will deal with the Altitude Sickness of varying degrees that will become chronic health incidents for residents at that altitude?

Will prospective buyers be forewarned of the health risk?
How many actual buyers would, in the end, opt for healthier accommodations at lower elevations?

After all, at 10,000’ our lungs absorb a third less oxygen than near sea level.

~ ~ ~

Who will be responsible for developing and financing an Emergence Medical System and medical clinic?
Will the VWC medical clinic include a High Altitude Health Research Station, considering the pioneering 10,000’ elevation of these overnight accommodations?

~ ~ ~
Then, there’s Police protection to consider, plan, finance, develop.
Who will be responsible for that?

~ ~ ~
Then, there’s Fire protection to consider, plan, finance, develop.
Who will be responsible for that?

~ ~ ~
Then, there’s snow clearing and street maintenance to consider, plan, finance, develop. (see Larry Calloway's article "VWC, Salesmanship Trumps Meteorology" )

Who will be responsible for that?

~ ~ ~
How much thought has gone into developing the sewage treatment plant for this high altitude environment that experiences freezing temperatures eight months of the year?
(Plus intense solar radiation... plus microbial efficiency is temperature & O2 dependent.) VWC will present unique water treatment engineering challenges and include inevitable breakdowns and high operating costs.

Who’s paying for it?

~ ~ ~
The list goes on, electrical distribution, LP gas, phones, IT . . .
Who will be financially responsible for ensuring all this necessary infrastructure?

~ ~ ~
The Business Plan:

A business venture is about high return on an investment.
To think the above can be accomplished within the budget of a speculative VWC for profit real estate venture seems fantastical.

The VWC is impossible without massive outside support... and that will turn out to be governmental support... tax payer support.
But, our governments are already stretched to bursting with obligations, why are we considering creating yet more?

And for what? A destructive white elephant in the making.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Honorable Congressman Salazar,
American’s have a right, if not duty, to attempt wrestling McCombs’ Albert Park speculative development parcel (although I would call it a priceless biological gem), back into the protective fold of the Rio Grande National Forest, America’s land trust.

Congressman Salazar will you do your part?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mr. McCombs & family, Why not return it?

“The B.J. Red McCombs Sweet Water Biological Preserve”
~ ~ dedicated to all down stream children yet to be born ~ ~


Reflections on local meetings regarding the VWC

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The following was written after attending a couple local meetings in Pagosa Springs (I live in the next county over)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Pagosa Springs Daily Post Editor & local Representatives,
I felt a bit like a party crasher at the Archuleta BoCC and Pagosa Springs Town Board meetings this past week.

On the one hand, I can appreciate annoyance at some outsider poking his nose into local issues. On the other hand, I hope people appreciate that Alberta Park, located within the unspoiled source waters to the Rio Grande River isn’t just another local real estate issue. What happens up there will ultimate effect all down stream inhabitants of an interstate, international river.

Consider the claim made at the Town Board meeting: “It’s the economy stupid!” This way of thinking implies that building something, anything, so long as we can put a few people to work ~ even if it’s only a couple seasons ~ is good for the community.

What good does that do the young families who are trying to think in terms of decades?

There is a great deal of avoidance going on. No one wants to look our growing economic/biosphere monster in the eye. But, all indications are that society is coming to the end of a creation old spendthrift era.

The incoming economic battle cry is:
“It’s about the sustainability stupid!”

An integral part of sustainability is protecting our resources, especially water.
It’s easy for us up here to overlook what an incredibly precious commodity it is. If you don’t believe it, go down to the Mexican border and watch the people on both sides struggling with a greatly depleted Rio Grande River water supply.

This brings me back to Alberta Park. I heard a couple representatives muse about how they love that land up there and if they had their way nothing would be built up there. Then vote against it. Their words indicated that in their hearts they know what a precious commodity Americans have up there. Why not fight for it?

And this brings me back to my intrusion. Mr. Red McCombs’ Reagan era pipedream is a huge mistake in the making, and since so few are screaming bloody murder, I will.

Why? Because I’m haunted by too many examples of counterproductive destruction of critical natural resources that I’ve watched go down over the decades.

Please, put some effort into taking this whole issue back to first base and figuring out a way to get that ill-gotten land back into the protective fold of Rio Grande National Forest.

That land, all of it, deserves to remain unmolested for the greater national good.


Friends of Wolf Creek Action Alert...

Monday, December 7, 2009

The following is a cut'n paste directly off the Friends of Wolf Creek website, since they are the authority on Alberta Park and the Red McCombs saga, and they are one of Alberta Park's stanchest defenders, their information is worth sharing.

I am not affiliated with them, but I sure do support them!

Friends of Wolf Creek

Needs Your Help to Stop McCombs’ Latest Attempt

to Circumvent Public Review and Involvement

Alberta Park - Site of the Proposed Development

November 5 , 2009

They are at it again! As you may have heard, Red McCombs has hired a new development team and is again working to push through his plans for a “Village” at Wolf Creek. Their new plan involves a new land exchange to facilitate access to their private land, and to acquire additional developable property. McCombs' team is heavily lobbying in Archuleta County and we need your help today to fight off this proposal.

McCombs remains unwilling to trust his project to any traditional process of public analysis, disclosure, and decision-making, and has therefore hired a new team of lobbyists to attempt to circumvent this review process through a legislative land exchange to gain not only access, but also additional developable property. With a number of well known and well-respected lobbyists and development firms on board, McCombs is now courting Congressman John Salazar to sponsor the legislative exchange. Fortunately, Congressman Salazar wants to hear from local communities and local elected officials about whether he should get involved in a land exchange.

What is on the Table
McCombs' new development team is trying to convince the public (and the BOCC) of why the land exchange is such a good idea, and why the legislative approach is not just more of the same backroom deal-making that we've seen all too much of before. Expect a slick presentation, and a growing list of promises to do this and that to address Archuleta County’s concerns. We need your help to challenge them on the details and stand up for the legitimate public review process that Friends of Wolf Creek has been fighting to maintain for more than a decade.

McCombs is giving the public a “choice” between an illegal 10,000 person development plan that they could never build (what they like to call the “approved plan”), and the new land exchange plan which would result in a slightly smaller development of 8,000 people. How is that for choices? In addition, McCombs’ developer is promising to listen to the concerns of the public in Archuleta County, but only if they get your support up front for a legislative land exchange. The “support me now, and I’ll listen to your concerns later” approach might fly in some parts of the country, but I hope that Archuleta County won’t buy stock in this scheme.

While the land exchange is concerning on its face (exchanging valuable developable land with highway frontage for McCombs’ wetlands and other undevelopable land) Colorado Wild is far more concerned about the process McCombs is pursuing to try to receive approval for the exchange. Rather than go though the traditional Forest Service land exchange review process – in which the public would have a chance to weigh in and the Forest Service EIS would disclose the impacts (pro and con) of the exchange before making a decision – McCombs and his new band of lobbyists is asking Congressman John Salazar to perform this land exchange legislatively.

Although McCombs is currently claiming that they will “try” to get their EIS done before the bill passes Congress, that is one promise they won't make. Nor is Congress under any obligation to consider the potentially significant impacts that we anticipate will surface through a thorough EIS process. Who do you think will have greater influence over Congress' decision, McCombs or you and I?

What You Can Do?
Congressman Salazar has yet to take a position on whether he would consider performing the land exchange through a bill in Congress. He and his staff are currently waiting to hear from local elected officials and the public about this proposal. We need your help to get the word to Salazar to say NO to any legislative land exchange. After more than 20 years of waiting, the public deserves a thorough and transparent analysis of the Village’s impacts before any decisions are made about a land exchange or other strategy to facilitate development of this land. Rather than a legislative run around, McCombs should go through the traditional Forest Service review process including a robust public involvement process. You can contact Congressman Salazar’s offices locally at:

  • 813 Main Ave, Ste 300, Durango, CO 81301, 970-259-1012
  • 609 Main Street, #6, Alamosa, CO 81101, 719-587-5105

Contact Your Elected Officials
McCombs and his teams are heavily lobbying your local elected officials to get their support for this project. We need your help to push back and ensure that McCombs doesn’t win the special treatment he is seeking.

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners recently wrote a letter to Congressman Salazar expressing concerns about a legislative exchange. They need to be thanked for taking this important step, and encouraged to continue their opposition to the legislative proposal:

  • John Ranson - District 1,, 970-264-8304
  • Clifford Lucero - District 2,, 970-264-8303
  • Robert Moomaw - District 3,, 970-264-8305

Contact the Pagosa Springs Town Council today and ask them to oppose a legislative land exchange (e-mails are included here, but phone calls are also encouraged):

  • Ross Aragon, Mayor,
  • Mark Weiler, District 1,
  • Don Volger, District 2,
  • Darrel Cotton, District 3,
  • Stan Holt, Council Member at Large,
  • Shari Pierce, Council Member at Large,
  • Jerry Jackson, Council Member at Large,

More Details on What is Proposed
McCombs is proposing to exchange a roughly 200 acre portion if his current private land for a roughly 200 acre parcel of National Forest property which is adjacent to McCombs’ current property. McCombs is trying to trade away more than 70 acres wetlands and 100+ acres reserved for skiing in easements. In return for these undevelopable lands, McCombs is seeking property with highway frontage on US Highway 160 and that is generally free of major wetlands. Clearly, the parcels in question are of unequal value (equal value is a requirement of Forest Service land exchanges), but that has not stopped them from seeking legislative support for their proposal.

McCombs’ new front man Clint Jones and their team of lobbyists are beating the streets in Pagosa, South Fork, Del Norte and Creede, making promises and trying to build support for the land exchange. Like other attempts to circumvent public review that McCombs has attempted over the last decade, the legislative land exchange is just the latest attempt to avoid or otherwise “streamline” scrutiny of this project’s potentially significant adverse impacts.

Clint Jones is promising that they will even do an EIS after they get approval for their land exchange from Congress. But what is the point of doing an EIS if the decision has already been made? Why ask the public to weigh in if the deal is done? If McCombs was really willing to address the public’s concerns wouldn’t he want to ask for feedback up front?

Despite all the promises, we are aware of no public benefit of performing this land exchange legislatively. We need your help TODAY to help turn back McCombs’ latest attempt to fast track his development scheme.

For More Information
Contact Paul Joyce at Colorado Wild at 970-385-9833 or

Open Letter to the Archuleta Board of County Commissioners

Monday, December 7, 2009

Here we go again. On one side we have “Red” McCombs who back in 1986 through shrewd manipulation of the golden rule wrestled Alberta Park away from the Rio Grande National Forest. Visit Friends Of Wolf to view their whitepaper for documentation. Also Mike Soraghan’s Denver Post article: “Wolf Creek develop-ment tangled with political ties” (2-5-6)

Now nearing 2010 McCombs wants to wrestle another more “advantageous” parcel away from the Forest Service > and environmental oversight toboot. For this plan to work he must enlist the Archuleta Board of County Commissioners as accomplices. It’s easy to understand what’s in it for the developer. But, why would Archuleta Commissioners stand behind and support such a boondoggle in the making? The potential for harm, to the Alberta Park watershed and to future county finances far outweigh the flimsy potential for a viable luxury village up at Wolf Creek Pass.

We are dealing with a man’s dream of taking that pristine high mountain watershed resource ~ part of the headwaters to the Rio Grande River ~ and turning it into a chunk of Real Estate and a Backlot for some fanciful Luxury Resort Village for eight or ten thousand wealthy vacationers. But, how many would actually want to live there year around?

This is at ten thousand feet elevation, just to the lee side of the Continental Divide at 11-12 thousand foot elevation? In an average winter thirty-six feet of snow will fall, with wind blown drifts that can bury homes. They can expect freezing temperatures eight months out of the year. The average wind speed is 11 mph, stormy weather brings 50 mph winds and when things get intense it’s a gale topping a hundred miles per hour. Is this an appropriate setting for a successful luxury town?

The Village at Wolf Creek is a dream born during the heady Reagan years when America convinced itself there were no limits on our expectation for ever greater luxuries. Haven’t we learned better? I sincerely wish Red McCombs and those of like mind would STOP and seriously look at how their blind compulsive grasping for ever more consumption is robbing our children’s future.

Look around at our economy, our commitments, and the flow of events. The dream of a Luxury Village of eight or ten thousand wealthy vacationers enjoying cold alpine weather conditions, belongs in a Hollywood movie... > Not perched on the edge of the Colorado Great Divide.

What about the vast operational expense$ and the infrastructure that must be maintained whether the homes are sold or not, lived in or empty? The town at ten thousand elevation will need well planned, faithfully executed civic infrastructure: police, medical facilities & personnel, schools(?), communications & IT infrastructure, providing & maintaining power utilities, street maintenance, water supply & sewer system maintenance through a long winter and deep blanket of snow. Oh and snow removal, just where will they put all that snow they need to scrap off the roads and roofs? Are they planning streets a hundred feet wide like in Silverton? The list goes on. Who will be picking up the tab?

What part of this plan is feasible? A developer’s smooth sales pitch and lubricating gold should not be enough to convince civic leaders to fall for such a chimera! Look at the lower elevation areas around Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado ~ they have a frightening saturation of unsold vacation homes, as documented in a Pagosa Sun article by James Robinson (7-8-9). Why add to the glut? Also see Mark Pearson’s (3-5-9) Durango Herald: “(Luxury) Resorts morph into “toxic” real estate assets.”

How is this going to work given the current economic prospects? Especially since the only purpose for this alpine Village at Wolf Creek is satisfying the dream fulfillment of rich people with too much money. Considering what’s happening in the financial world, even rich folks don’t have the loose change they used to. “If you build it, they will come” sounds great in the movies and ad campaigns but in the real world of flowing seasons and the 2010’s it rings mighty flat.

McCombs finds himself on the side of American thought that proclaims ‘Too Much Is Never Enough.’ This faith is coupled with an outlook that demands a ‘Full Speed Ahead With Eyes Glued To The Rear View Mirror’ mindset. This project is all about such 80/90’s thinking. We have seen time and again how this free wheeling self-certain focus on development at all costs, has saddled communities with precious resource, money, energy & time robbing obligations. Why allow this community to be led right into another such trap? Why invite an expensive destructive White Elephant into our community?

So, what about the other side? It represents a conservative perspective. It looks beyond grand fancies and short term profits and believes such irreplaceable biological gems as Alberta Park with it’s surrounding meadow and forest land is a precious biological resource and part of the national endowment that belongs to our younger generations. Akin to a national treasure or even a National Security Water Resource Area. It believes Red McCombs should do a truly patriotic thing and grant that land back to the American trust through some sort of conservation easement arrangement: “The Billy Joe ‘Red’ McCombs Fresh Water Biological Preserve” dedicated to all down stream kids yet to be born !

As representatives you have been entrusted with looking toward the future and the greater good. Truth be told in general representatives have too often failed we the people, in carrying out that mandate due to the golden rule.

Therefore, we the people stand before you powerless ~ yet, pleading for your better judgment to out shine your faith in economic notions that are proving to fail us when we need them most. Protect that productive natural resource up there at Alberta Park. Reject Red McCombs fanciful and dangerous notion of a new land grab. Reject the pipedream of bulldozing a luxury vacation town into the middle of that pristine biologically productive high mountain alpine watershed.
Please vote in favor of Leaving It Alone.

Sincerely, Peter Miesler ~ Durango, Colorado ~

{For the record I am unaffiliated with FWC or any other entity involved in this matter.
My allegiance is with Alberta Park... and that fantastic gem of a watershed. pm 12-7-9}


Village at Wolf Creek: Why not a Nature Preserve resolution?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}
~ ~ ~

Last week the Durango Herald was filled with news about the reawakened push for the Village at Wolf Creek speculative development. First Red McCombs hires Michael Dino a heavy weight Democratic lobbyist. His mission - bring in the money cannons. Dino knows where to aim them for greatest effect in developing political channels for side stepping public review.

As the week unfurled we learned the new plan was hinged on a new land swap effectively moving the development a few hundred yards. Also, ‘Hal Jones Development’ is now proposing a resort merely three-quarters the size of the original ten thousand person conception.

The key ingredient to this new strategy would be Congressman Salazar sponsoring a land-swap bill. As Clint Jones, of HJD, says John Salazar is the only one who could credibly carry the land-exchange act through Congress. This may be true, but credibility is hard won and easily lost.

It seems difficult to believe Congressman Salazar could be swayed into compromising his credibility to join this speculative real estate scheme. Should you oppose the idea of developing Wolf Creek, now would be a good time to drop Congressman Salazar a line at or (202) 225-4761 or (970)-245-7107 or (719)-543-8200.

In another article US Senator Bennet speaks of “serious concerns about the potential impacts” and “We need to keep a close eye on the matter and get answers to a number of questions...”

Here are some starter questions: How viable is this eighties pipedream of building a small village at 10,000 elevation to begin with? Look at today’s economic reality and outlook. Consider the under appreciated future ripple effects our continuing rising chronic unemployment will have.

Look at the lower elevation areas around Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado ~ they have a frightening saturation of unsold vacation homes, as documented in a Pagosa Sun article by James Robinson (7-8-9). Why add to the glut?
Also see March 5, 2009 Durango Herald's story "(Luxury) Resorts morph into "toxic" real estate assets."

Why risk that high value fresh water resource?

Remember we are talking about source waters to the Rio Grande River. Any digging and construction will disrupt, even destroy portions of an exquisitely tuned biological super-organism, one that produces any number of priceless services for all down stream inhabitants. Moving the project a few hundred yards one way or another doesn’t change that.

There is also the matter of the original “dirty land swap.” Documented in Mike Soraghan’s 2-5-6, Denver Post article:
“Wolf Creek development tangled with political ties.”

B.J. Red McCombs may hold legal title but, he does not possess ethical or moral title to that land. Therefore some of us continue to beg Mr. McCombs, and now his daughter, to please revert that land to some Nature Conservancy status, protecting that irreplaceable resource for the greater national good.

The solution really is that simple. Leave that parcel alone to remain an unmolested portion of an important biological super-organism.

It would be a fitting gesture for someone who recently received the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars award for “corporate citizenship.”

If you agree, please encourage Red McCombs to reconsider his priorities. He can be reached through

Sincerely, Peter Miesler
Durango, Colorado

PS. Mr. McCombs doesn’t “The Billy Joe “Red” McCombs Fresh Water Biological Preserve” ~ dedicated to all down stream children yet to be born, have a nice ring to it?

For more information visit Friends of Wolf Creek at