Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Public Interest Determination of the RGNF - Feasibility Analysis

Well friends, 
This was on my "to do list" but I've spent all day working on the hard copy of my official comments to the Rio Grande National Forest Village at Wolf Creek Access-Environmental Impact Statement team  {nine pages worth*}.   
Also my 100% freebie time for working on the VWC-DEIS is just about over, don't know when I'll get to this.
I'm hoping someone else might be able to do a critique of this document.  I'm also hoping some of this engages some of you out there.  Could be I'm crazy, but I do know if we don't use this one month - SEPTEMBER - they offer us, we may as well give up.  Your emails or US Post Office letters to the RGNF will matter, but only this September.

Feasibility Analysis Public Interest Determination of the Rio Grande National Forest
Village at Wolf Creek Land Exchange Proposal
Public Interest Determination of the Rio Grande National Forest 
Based upon the above information, the proposed Wolf Creek Land Exchange may be in the public interest and merits additional evaluation. The merits include:Moves much of the private development farther away from the ski area, thus potentially reducing some of the expressed conflicts which previously surfaced as part of the environmental analysis for the easement grant. 
Development approvals would be staged and directly tied to increased development at the ski area (as specified in the 12/30/10 proposal supplement) thus potentially reducing some of the expressed conflicts relating to the scale of the private development and its affect on the character of the ski area. 
WCSA appears to support the proposed exchange, in contrast to the development plan previously approved by Mineral County. It provides for a net gain of approximately 27 acres of wetlands and 8500 linear feet of perennial stream.. It increases skiable alpine terrain. 
A grade separated interchange off Highway 160 will be built for access that will accommodate traffic volumes at full buildout, and so will not need to be revised/revisited for future phases. This location and design will be agreed to by the proponent, CDOT and the USFS (including WCSA as FS permittee) prior to the completion of the exchange analysis. 
RecommendationIt is my belief that the merits of completing an exchange must be evaluated in contrast to the grant of an easement for access to the property. The owner has a right of access under ANILCA and that LMJV has every intention of securing access to the property either through land exchange or direct easement grant. 
Based on the above analysis, and when weighed against the proponent‟s existing ANILCA access right and subsequent request for a road easement, this exchange appears in the public interest. It is my opinion that this proposal is technically feasible, and an Agreement to Initiate should be entered into. It is my belief that the tangible physical resources to be acquired, when accompanied by the intangible benefits of reduced, staged and partially relocated development, make this exchange worth moving forward on. If faced with the alternative of an easement grant, the Forest Service would receive none of these benefits. 
And that settles that.  ;-)
Never mind that the “above analysis” ignores several glaring contra-indicators for this development.
Such as climate change, water supply challenges, financial viability;
Challenges of an altitude of 10,160 to 10,880 feet above sea level;
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It also occurs to me that given the state of the dying forest at and around Alberta Park.  

The prognosis is that an extreme fire event will occur up there in the foreseeable future.  

Given this situation wouldn't it be good for USDA-RGNF officials to think past that imminent event and consider how important a hydrologically unmolested Alberta Park Fens-land and wetland matrix will be for the recovery process from the damages this inevitable forest fire will inflict on the Rio Grande River Basin Watershed?


*  {List of my comments to the EIS team.
    •    VWC-DEIS 1.6.5 Climate and Air Quality
    •    VWC-DEIS Indirect Consequences - Bark Beetle 

    •    VWC-DEIS 1.7.1 Health and Human Safety at a High Altitude
    •    VWC-DEIS 1.10 ANILCA 1980 - Road Access Rights
    •    VWC-DEIS Chap. 2 Page 46/47 - Employment Status

    •    VWC-DEIS 3.4 Water Rights and Use

    •    VWC-DEIS 3.1 Surface Water – Water Quality, Stream Health
    •    VWC-DEIS 3.7.6 Fens

    •    VWC-DEIS 4.7.1 (Wetlands) Direct and Indirect Consequences

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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, in September:

Village at Wolf Creek Land Exchange Proposal #35945
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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By the way, thanks for looking in on this blogspot,  Peter


  1. So basically, they are saying that the benefits of gaining the land, moving development away from WCSA (let's face it, by not much at all) and staged development would outweigh the downsides, which include; destruction of habitat, environment, pollution, water issues, garbage issues, traffic issues, a possible ghost town... etc.

    I'm really starting to wonder if the FS is just looking at their own benefits (funding, etc) and they could maybe just care less about the future.

    Man. Sad.

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  3. That's about it.

    I've added two images to underscore your point.

    The top one is with the land swap
    and the bottom one is without and with ANILCA justified road access.

    Either way it's will tear the guts (and heart) out of that wetlands.

  4. Just now getting back here to check in. I've sent 2 comments over so far. I have urged quite a few residents in the state to do so, as well.

    I'm just floored the the FS would allow the wet lands to be ripped apart that way. I keep going back to the DEIS and trying to understand who really benefits from this besides McCombs. I just don't see it, other than the rising costs of living in Pagosa and South Fork, I can't see a single benefit from the development... Or, the land swap (especially since it's for development).

    Even WCSA is against development. Or at least ambiguous to it. They have a plan, and while they may support the swap, they certainly do not want become a ski resort... Or, at least Pitcher would have us believe that.