Monday, May 14, 2012

Durango Telegraph "Village at Wolf Creek" Archives

 After putting together the Pagosa Springs SUN Newspaper Archives, I figured: why stop?  Over in Durango, the Durango Telegraph has printed a number of interesting articles and letters regarding the proposed Village at Wolf Creek.

With a couple articles deserving to be highlighted: 
The first, though dated in it's legal details, does an excellent job of describing the Fens/Wetlands situation and regulatory complications.  Illustrating some of the unavoidable impacts development would have on this watershed to the Rio Grande River. The second article describes the increasing stress the Rio Grande National Forest biosphere is suffering, and why we must take care of what we have.

Wetlands heat up Wolf Creek debate ~ Agencies clash over mapping of ‘old-growth’ fens
CoverStory, Adam Howell
~ ~ ~
Rio Grande forest ‘endangered’
Quick 'n' Dirty


Durango Telegraph Weekly Newspaper

The “Village At Wolf Creek” Archives
{ going back to 2005 }


Model T to heli-ski ~ The little Wolf that could

“Wolf Creek has come to be known as the original renegade ski resort. {...}

And now, with plans to expand with everything from beginner to expert and heli-skiing options, the little Wolf may soon hold its own with the likes of Silverton Mountain, Crested Butte and Telluride. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Village at Wolf Creek back in the spotlight

“The Village at Wolf Creek is back on the table and going on public display next week. The Rio Grande National Forest is working on an environmental analysis of a land exchange that would open access to developer Red McCombs’ landlocked parcel atop Wolf Creek Pass. As part of the process, the agency is hosting a public field trip Sept. 20.
“There is significant public interest and enough potential benefit to the proposed land exchange over the previous right-of-way application to merit a full environmental analysis,” RGNF Supervisor Dan Dallas said this spring. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

McCombs land swap up for review

“The Village at Wolf Creek is back on the table and open to public scrutiny. ...
The swap would exchange 178 acres of McCombs’ property for 204 Forest Service acres abutting U.S. Hwy. 160. If approved, it would give the Village a total of nearly 324 acres and enable McCombs to construct 1,700 units near the top of Wolf Creek Pass. . .”


Gambling at Wolf Creek Pass

“Dear Editors,  On Feb. 17, Congressman Salazar held an informative Village at Wolf Creek 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. . . P.M.”


Red McCombs as usual

“Dear Editors,  Last week was filled with news about the reawakened push for the Village at Wolf Creek speculative development. First Red McCombs hires Michael Dino, a heavyweight 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 hinges on a 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 10,000-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. . . P M”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Son of the Village: New Wolf Creek plan in works

“Red McCombs’ Village at Wolf Creek appears to be in hibernation mode, at least for the moment. The controversial development was back-burnered in February when the Rio Grande National Forest officially ended its review. However, opponents of the plan have gotten word that the “Village,” with its thousands of units, multiple hotels and restaurants, and variety of high-altitude impacts, will soon be back in a revised form.
This is not the first time the configuration the Village of Wolf Creek has changed. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Red Visits The Reservation ~ McCombs gets cool reception on Navajo Nation

“Red McCombs has been working to stake a claim in another of the Southwest’s Four Corners. In recent years, the Texas billionaire developer has actively pushed two ventures on the Navajo Nation – a mega-development and an alternative energy project. However, just like McCombs’ other venture near Wolf Creek, the tides have turned against the Texan and his partner, Bob Honts.
McCombs and Honts gained notoriety in Durango in recent years for their proposed Village at Wolf Creek. The Clear Channel Radio baron and his “lieutenant” envisioned a virtual city at the base of the Wolf Creek Ski Area with plans for 2,172 housing units and more than 220,000 square feet of commercial space, including restaurants and hotels. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

McCombs back-burnered

“The Village at Wolf Creek fell onto the back burner last week when the Rio Grande National Forest officially ended its review of the controversial development plan. However, opponents of the plan for thousands of units just off Wolf Creek Pass are quick to note that the fight may be far from over. . .”


Forest puts Red McCombs on hold

“The Village at Wolf Creek fell onto the back burner last week. The Rio Grande National Forest has put review of the controversial development plan on hold until proponent Red McCombs discloses the changes that were made to the “village’s” configuration.
McCombs, the Clear Channel Radio baron and former Minnesota Vikings owner, has pitched the large-scale development near the base of the Wolf Creek Ski Area, which is unaffiliated with the project. In his original plan, the Texas developer was pushing for 2,172 units and more than 220,000 square feet of commercial space, including 12 restaurants and several hotels. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

The Billy Joe Effect ~ By Will Sands

“You can practically hear the sales pitch.

“BJ Enterprises (that’s Billy Joe for y’all out of the know) brings you the latest and greatest in resort design. As the one-time owner of the Minnesota Vikings and San Antonio Spurs, BJ “Red” McCombs is no stranger to victories. By sparing no expense (and greasing a palm or two) the Village at Navajo Canyon has come to represent one of Red’s top victories.”

That’s right, folks. Durango’s favorite Texas billionaire has been a busy man this year. He’s gone back to the Village at Wolf Creek drawing board; tried to sneak a revision of said Village past the Forest Service and the public; and is currently managing the nation’s sixth largest auto conglomerate during a time when turbo diesel is sucking serious exhaust. And as it turns out, Red has also been getting his fingers dirty on the Navajo Nation. Apparently the man who also owns Clear Channel Radio wants a foothold in all Four of our Corners. According to a recent letter in the Navajo Times, Red’s “lieutenant” Bob Honts has been pushing for a giant, new development along the shores of Lake Powell. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

McCombs changes Village plans
“Shady information is once again descending on the Village at Wolf Creek. Just as the Rio Grande National Forest has reopened the high-altitude development to public scrutiny, the Village’s configuration has mysteriously changed. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

McCombs goes back to square one
“The Village at Wolf Creek has been reopened to public scrutiny. Once again, the Rio Grande National Forest has kicked off the public scoping process for the Wolf Creek Access Environmental Impact Statement, and three public meetings have been scheduled. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

McCombs returns to square one
“The fight against the “Village at Wolf Creek” celebrated a monumental victory this week. Following 16 months of legal wrangling, the Forest Service and developer Red McCombs agreed to go back to the drawing board and complete a fair and unbiased Environmental Impact Statement for the controversial development proposed for the base of the Wolf Ski Area.
 “The Village” is in no way connected to Wolf Creek ski area, which is widely recognized as an environmentally friendly, no-frills, family-run operation. . .”


Court rules against Village

“Red McCombs took a major stumble last week. The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that Mineral County commissioners wrongly approved the Village at Wolf Creek, representing a substantial delay for the development, which hoped to be under construction by now. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Billy Joe in Palestine

“Billy Joe “Red” McCombs is getting inked all over the world. Though the Village at Wolf Creek front has been largely silent in Durango in recent months, thePalestine Chronicle, a publication devoted to the Arab-Israeli conflict, has picked up the story.

Joshua Frank, author ofLeft Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, recently passed through the region and picked up the Friends of Wolf Creek banner. In a column for thePalestine Chronicle, Frank gives background on the proposed 10,000-person village, remarks that McCombs is one of the 400 richest Americans and then lets it fly.

“McCombs’ vision, not unlike that of Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton who built the township near Vail, is sustained by greed and a rampant disregard for the wild,” he writes. “Like most capitalists, McCombs is in it for the money and status. Nothing more.”. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Village at Wolf Creek suffers setback

“The court has smiled on efforts to turn back the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. On June 6, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge David West issued a recommendation to extend the Preliminary Injunction that has held the proposed “Village” at Wolf Creek at a standstill since last fall. The earlier injunction was set to expire this Friday, on June 15, a turn of events that would have allowed developers to begin work at the site adjacent to the Wolf Creek Ski Area. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Wolf Creek under pressure ~ Colorado Wild files for injunction extension

“The ground atop Wolf Creek Pass may be thawing, but the bulldozers’ engines will remain cold, at least for a few more weeks.

Last week, Durango-based environmental group Colorado Wild was granted an extension to its injunction temporarily halting construction of a road to the controversial Village at Wolf Creek. The original injunction, issued Nov. 15, 2006, expired May 1. However, a federal district court judge agreed to extend the injunction until at least June 15 at the group’s request. Colorado Wild is currently working on its case to extend the injunction indefinitely while it compiles documentation necessary to make its case against the development in court. . .”


Lawsuit hits Village at Wolf Creek

“Wolf Creek stepped back into the courtroom, just days prior to the ski area’s Oct. 27 opening. Colorado Wild and the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council filed a lawsuit on Oct. 19, challenging the Forest Service’s approval of two separate roads accessing the Village at Wolf Creek. The suit also challenges recent Forest Service decisions that make it easier for the developer to begin construction. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Village access triggers lawsuit

“The Village at Wolf Creek is stepping back into the courtroom. Last week, the Regional Office of the Forest Service upheld the Rio Grande National Forest’s March 15 decision to authorize two separate access roads across public land to the massive development near the Wolf Creek Ski Area. The opposition now plans to take the fight to the next level and file a lawsuit. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Village at Wolf Creek appeal filed

“The Village at Wolf Creek received a hefty challenge last week when three organizations challenged the Forest Service’s April 3 approval of two access roads to the giant development. The appeal alleges that the agency made major errors in its analysis and failed to live up to its responsibilities to the public. A Texas development company, headed by Clear Channel Radio baron and former Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs, has pitched the Village at Wolf Creek. The development would be located on 287.5 acres at the base of the Wolf Creek Ski Area’s Alberta quad and would include 2,172 units on 162 lots, 5,176 bedrooms and 222,100 square feet of commercial space including 12 restaurants, multiple hotels and a convention center. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Me and Billy Joe

Was this a secret attempt to buy off a small piece of the media? Attempted collusion? Has a McCombs’ attorney been ghost-writing large sections of the newspaper?

I’m afraid not. She was just a “junior media buyer” stuck in an air-conditioned cubicle somewhere in the great elsewhere – a junior media buyer who forgot to do her research before making contact. After all, business ventures are relationships at heart, and Red and I still have a lot of ground to cover. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

The price of paving Hidden Valley

“Dear Editors,  Isn’t it always the way? Those with the most want even more and use their political connections to try to get those with the least to buy it for them. If it’s not billionaire Red McCombs and his Village at Wolf Creek, it was that developer who wanted Durango to annex his Animas Valley property so taxpayers could buy his road access, water and sewer services, and fire and police protection for him. Then he could reap the increased profits from his now, more-valuable lots. . .  W.H.”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Deitch the Village

“Dear Editors, Abuse or depletion of common-property resources is referred to as the tragedy of the commons. From an environmental perspective, the Village at Wolf Creek is a classic example of this tragedy. As most are aware, the Village is a huge environmental threat on many levels (e.g., biodiversity, water, etc.). This threat calls for aggressive responses and priorities. 
D.R-P. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

The backside of the decision: Colorado Wild continues to allege corruption

“Collusion, insider dealing, influence peddling and corruption are all terms that have flown over the Village at Wolf Creek. The Forest Service’s announcement Monday that it has approved access to the proposed development is no exception.

In conjunction with the decision, Colorado Wild released results of its comprehensive research into the process leading up to the decision. The group argues that its White Paper, including 28 exhibits, demonstrates undue and potentially illegal influence over the Forest Service and its environmental review. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Village gets a green light ~ Forest Service awards McCombs access to parcel

“The Forest Service opened a door for the Village at Wolf Creek this week. On Monday, the agency officially removed a stumbling block to the massive development when it authorized access to the parcel at the base of Wolf Creek Ski Area. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Wolf Creek forum reset for April 7

“A debate between Village at Wolf Creek developers and several state legislators has been postponed. Originally scheduled for March 24, the forum has been delayed until April 7 to accommodate lawmakers, particularly Rep. Mark Larson, who have to travel from Denver. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Wolf Creek correspondence vanishes ~ E-mail exchanges over wetlands delineation deleted

In an ongoing round of housecleaning, some scraps of controversy surrounding wetlands at Wolf Creek may have been swept under the rug of public disclosure. Under the rug are e-mails that officials at the Army Corps of Engineers exchanged with the Environmental Protection Agency over the wetlands delineation the Corps approved for the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. While the EPA disclosed its exchanges, an official with the Army Corps deleted theirs, according to Army Corps attorney Dennis Wallace.
 ~ ~ ~ 

Too much is never enough

Dear Editors, The Denver Post printed an important article by Mike Soraghan, (Feb. 5, 2006): “Wolf Creek development tangled with political ties.” It chronicles the influence peddling of “Red” McCombs and his associates in their effort to build a monstrous housing and commercial complex near Wolf Creek Pass (elevation 10,850 feet). I found it compelling enough to share some excerpts: . . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Larson calls for Wolf Creek probe

“On the heels of more allegations of illegal political influence, the Village at Wolf Creek could face a federal investigation. State Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, said that he believes there is evidence of undue influence and pressure being brought to bear by the developer and it warrants scrutiny from on high. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Agency to release McCombs papers

The light is about to shine on the Village at Wolf Creek. A favorable ruling in federal district court last week is the latest step in an ongoing legal saga to acquire publicly available documents – including all communications between the developer and the U.S. Forest Service.

Wetlands heat up Wolf Creek debate ~ Agencies clash over mapping of ‘old-growth’ fens

Wetlands are currently boiling with controversy in the vicinity of Wolf Creek Ski Area.
According to recently obtained e-mails, two agencies are throwing jabs in a recent bout over the regulation of wetlands as they relate to the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. According to the exchange, the Army Corps of Engineers’ Albuquerque District has prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from verifying the locations of wetlands at the site of the proposed developed.
. . . As a result, Project Manager Anita Culp of the Corps’ Southern Colorado Regulatory Office offered the EPA dates in September for when the two agencies could work together on the project. But shortly thereafter, her boss, Dan Malanchuk, chief of the Corps’ Albuquerque District, refused to clear it and ordered her to block the EPA’s request to review their wetlands delineations. . .
 ~ ~ ~ 

Salazar takes on Wolf Creek proposal
“The controversial Village at Wolf Creek received a challenge from a high place this week. After reviewing its scope and impact, Rep. John T. Salazar, D-Colo., has stated his opposition to the proposed development. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Rio Grande forest ‘endangered’

“Wolf Creek Ski Area cranked up for a limited opening last Friday amid more controversy. Rio Grande National Forest, the public land surrounding Wolf Creek, has landed on the list of “America’s Most Endangered National Forests.” The National Forest Protection Alliance recently released its third biennial report listing 12 of the country’s most endangered national forests. 
The Rio Grande National Forest was named as one of “The Dirty Dozen,” courtesy of the proposed Village at Wolf Creek and numerous industrial timber sale proposals already under way. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Colorado Wild taps a new director

“Colorado Wild, the Durango-based conservation group, has new leadership. Ryan Demmy Bidwell has taken over executive director duties for the group, which has made headlines on everything from the Village at Wolf Creek to defeating the Missionary Ridge Timber Sale. Bidwell replaces outgoing director Jeff Berman. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Red McCombs runs into a roadblock

The opposition has celebrated another significant victory in the fight to block the Village at Wolf Creek development. Last Friday, District Court Judge John Kuenhold threw out Mineral County’s approval of the controversial development proposed next to, but not affiliated with, the Wolf Creek Ski Area.
 ~ ~ ~ 

Accusations fly over Wolf Creek - Group alleges back-room dealings between Forest Service, developer

“Allegations of backroom dealings are currently hovering over Wolf Creek Pass. A watchdog group has accused the Forest Service of being in bed with the developers proposing a ?Vail-sized city? at the base of the Wolf Creek Ski Area. The development?s proponents flatly deny the allegations. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Fight against Wolf Creek mobilizes
“The fight against the Village at Wolf Creek is picking up steam. Citizens from across Colorado, under the banner of “Friends of Wolf Creek,” gathered last week to craft the next steps in the growing effort to counter the proposed Village at Wolf Creek real estate development. . .”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Lynx highway mitigation in works - Developers would have to build or pay for wildlife crossings

“It has been a banner year for lynx recovery efforts in Southwest Colorado. However, federal wildlife officials are working to ensure that the sensitive species is not on a crash course with development in the reintroduced cat’s habitat.
“The increase in traffic associated with these developments is the biggest issue,” said Kurt Broderdorp, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Grand Junction. “Highway 160 recently had a dead lynx, and there have been several cats killed down there due to traffic.”
 ~ ~ ~ 

Wolf Creek plan draws more heat    

“An already hot situation is nearing the boiling point at Wolf Creek Pass. Two more lawsuits were filed last week over the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. Durango-based Colorado Wild said it filed the suits to press the Forest Service to act in the public interest. . .” 
 ~ ~ ~ 


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