Sunday, August 26, 2012

VWC-DEIS 1.7.1 Health & Human Safety at a High Altitude Resort

{updated 9/2/12}
{update 8/31/12 - see elevation ?}

Reviewing the VWC-DEIS you'll notice a number of points worth a closer look. To facilitate that I will use this blog for my study notes, organized into single issue threads. Each will quote the USDA Forest Service - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project - Draft Environmental Impact Statement section in question.
{For clarity I have added breaks between sentences and highlights where appropriate.  Wording has not been altered.}
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Draft Environmental Impact Statement  Village at Wolf Creek Access Project 

Page 1-13   Chapter 1.  Purpose and Need for Action

1.7 Issues Not Analyzed in Detail 
Numerous additional issues as identified below were raised by the public during the scoping process.  The Rio Grande NF considered these, and dismissed them from further analysis in the DEIS

1.7.1 Health and Human Safety at a High Altitude Resort
Numerous commenters were concerned about the health and safety of people at a high altitude development.  Individuals are responsible for their own health, and living, working and recreating at high altitude is an individual choice and responsibility.

1.1 Introduction  
The Forest Service has prepared this DEIS) (...)  It discloses potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects on the physical, human and biological environment associated with a No Action Alternative and two Action Alternatives that have been analyzed in detail.  Additionally, it is intended to ensure that the environmental and social values of the project area are considered, and that potential resource conflicts are minimized or avoided...”

Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project

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It’s interesting, all this money spent on studying and discussing a land trade clearly meant to facilitate a speculator’s dream of attempting to develop a grand luxury resort at 10,500’ elevation.

A dream hatched in Reagan’s go-go 80s, when nothing was too big to grab for.  But, this is the 2010s and our kids will be forced to deal with a much different world than the one we got to know.  I know Republicans love to believe they can ignore what Earth Scientists are learning and observing.  But, you members of the EIS team should show the science some respect.

And so far as a business plan for a luxury village, how about putting it were folks breath 70% of the oxygen they would at sea level.  How does that help the dream's viability?

Here is an example of how the VWC-DEIS resolves such lynchpins to success:
1.7.1 Health and Human Safety at a High Altitude Resort
Numerous commenters were concerned about the health and safety of people at a high altitude development.  
Individuals are responsible for their own health, and living, working and recreating at high altitude is an individual choice and responsibility.
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I can understand USDA and RGNF wanting to stay away from this touchy issue.  But we have a real health and business issue just the same: Very Thin Air! Yes, it is a personal choice.  But it is also an undeniable medical reality at Alberta Park.  One that impacts the business viability; which reflects on the chances of this place becoming a bust; which brings up the question: why destroy that wetlands area to begin with?
From a sales perspective, how does a speculative development succeed when it already eliminates a major portion of the target demographic from it’s potential buyer base for health reasons? 
Are there plans for building a high altitude medical center as in Telluride?  Who’s paying for it?

Considering the irreparable damage digging and building will inflict on this headwaters of the Rio Grande River Basin it seems irresponsible to ignore factors that so negatively reflect on the prospects for such an ambitious project at 10,500’.  

Shouldn't these realities cause some hesitation among the powers-that-be in their headlong drive to facilitate this high stakes gamble?

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Incidentally, after spending many hours with the VWC-DEIS I still can’t find Albert Park’s elevation listed.   Why might that be?
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I stand corrected.  After much chapter flipping and page turning, one of the authors of the DEIS was able to prove that the elevation of the land was posted somewhere within the DEIS:
3.6 Vegetation Resources
3.6.1 Scope of Analysis
The Analysis Area for vegetation resources is located east of the Continental Divide in the Rio Grande River Drainage Basin and encompasses the Federal and non-Federal exchange parcels and that portion of the private land parcel not exchanged. 
The total area is ±504.3 acres and ranges in elevation from approximately 10,160 to 10,880 feet ~  Page 3-34   Chapter 3. Affected Environment

Still, it seems like something the DEIS is trying to avoid.  Why?  Will FEIS make a point of including that info up front?  A factor that certainly will impact the business viability of a luxury residential village?

This leads to another question:  Why does the USDA-RGNF always accept the speculator/developers interpretation of what's important?  Can we please think this through before facilitating tearing up this important wetlands?  PS. At Alberta Park digging next to it is just as damaging as digging in it. 

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For further information:

The Institute For Altitude Medicine at Telluride
The Institute For Altitude Medicine: Preexisting Conditions

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Dear Friends of Alberta Park and Wolf Creek, 
we have this one moment to tell the Rio Grande Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture's powers-that-be what a destructive boondoggle this luxury Village at 10,500± elevation would be.

But, they'll never listen to you, if you don't contact them!
Here's where to do that, but you need to do it now, September:

Commenting on This Project
The Forest Service values public input. Comments received, including respondents’ names and addresses, will become part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the agency with the ability to provide you with project updates. The Forest Service wishes to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to learn about our activities.

Official Deadline for comments: 9/30/2012. (or is that Friday the 28th, or Monday the 1st?)

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