Thursday, June 4, 2015

June 4, 2015 - Wolf Creek Land Exchange - Inside Durango TV

Updated 6/6/2015
Supervisor Dallas responds to my questions 

June 4, 2015 - Wolf Creek Land Exchange

Published on Jun 3, 2015

Opponents of the proposed Village at Wolf Creek have vowed to continue their fight against the controversial development after Rio Grande Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas last month issued a final decision to approve a land exchange between the Forest Service and Texas Billionaire Red McCombs.  IDTV

I send Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas the following questions and he was kind enough to respond:

3:00  Forest Service slow to comply with court order to turn over documents

Supervisor Dallas: From what I have been told by those who are more directly involved, the FS is complying with a schedule for providing documents to the court.

3:15 The brewing illegal conflict of interest scandal of Deputy Forester Gustafson. 

She developed content for the Environmental Impact Statement, then served as the reviewing officer of her own handy work when objections to the EIS were filed.  

Supervisor Dallas: I can say definitively she (Maribeth Gustafson) did NOT develop content for the EIS.

CC: Not surprisingly she dismissed all objections.  -   {the project must move a head, eh} but wait.

4:30 Dan Dallas says Deputy Forester Gustafson was not involved in the "work of the day to day analysis process" which RGNF Supervisor Dallas was in charge of. 
CC: Hmmm, so what exactly does that mean?  
Supervisor Dallas: See above.  To summarize, the analysis process took place at the Forest Level.  The Regional Office was contacted as necessary for technical advice to the Forest associated with the analysis but this generally was with technical experts such as realty specialists, recreation specialists, wildlife biologists, and others for example, not regional line officers such as Deputy Regional Foresters.

CC: What did Gustafson have to do with producing this Village at Wolf Creek Access Environmental Impact study? 
Supervisor Dallas: Lands and Land Adjustments is in her portfolio (basically a division of labor between the two Deputy Regional Foresters) so the regional oversight of the project was her responsibility.  The actual responsibility for her was to at a broad, regional level, through interactions with the Director of Lands in the Regional Office, keep track of the project so she could brief the Regional Forester on any issues associated with the conduct and progress of the analysis process if necessary.

CC: Why was she chosen to do the review of objections? 
Supervisor Dallas: Explained above.  She was the person responsible for reviewing the objections.

One last comment.  Your use of the term “brewing” conflict of interest scandal should be very telling to the readers of your blog.  Region 2 of the Forest Service encompasses 5 states,  11 National Forests and 8 National Grasslands.  At any point in time there are multiple complex and controversial EIS analyses processes going on that often create intense controversy when the decision is rendered by a local Forest Service line officer. 

In addition, there are many multiple more National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) actions called Environmental Assessments (EA’s) and Categorical Exclusions (CE’s) in various stages going on also on every Forest and Grassland.  The Wolf Creek project is no different in regards to controversy unfortunately.  A person in the Deputy Regional Forester position, whether it’s DRF Gustafson or any other person in this position simply does not have time to delve into the specifics of a local project and certainly not develop content as implied by accusations that are being made now in the response from the objectors to my decision.  

This so called scandal is indeed being brewed I’ll grant you, but is it from actual heat or rapid stirring?  Your readers can decide that.  Thanks again for your interest and contact for the other side to the story.
I thank Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas for his interest and taking the time to explain.  Regarding Forester Gustafson I was simply asking, I did not, and I do not imply wrong doing, that would be for others who have way more information and insight than I do to judge.  

I do want to make clear that the glaring scandal that I see is allowing Alberta Park to be written off with such casual disregard for what will be lost to the America people and the Rio Grande National Forest.  Shifting that speculative development a couple hundred yards over isn't going to mitigate cascading damages worth a fig.

Update June 9th.  

I received an email from Mike Blakeman Public Affairs Specialist for the RGNF, he has been out on personal leave and was catching up with me.  He included one comment I feel honor bound to share:

I’m dealing with flooding concerns and a fire at the moment (yep, both), so don’t have time to dig deeply into the Village controversy at the moment, except to say that to the best of my knowledge there have been no conflict of interest boundaries breached. One part I have not seen mentioned is that a regional objection review team (composed of people from other forests and the regional office who had nothing to do with the Village project) reviewed the objections and then provided their recommendations to Maribeth Gustafson. 

For the official documents visit;

fyi:  Forest Service responds to objections to proposed Village at Wolf Creek
Hannah Grover, Daily Times | April 3, 2015

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