Saturday, July 18, 2015

Petitioning Chief of USDA Forest Service, Tom Tidwell: Protect Alberta Park

Stop the destruction of Wolf Creek Pass, an irreplaceable Colorado treasure

Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado forms the pristine headwaters of the Rio Grande and San Juan Rivers. Bridging the South San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness Areas, the pass is beloved for stunning vistas and ample opportunities for backcountry recreation along the Continental Divide. It is also one of the most biologically-important areas in the Southern Rockies, providing habitat and migration pathways for elk, deer, black bear and the threatened Canada lynx. In fact, Wolf Creek Pass hosts some of the best remaining, critical and high-functioning lynx habitat in the state.

Recently, the U.S. Forest Service approved a land exchange with a private developer, which will set the stage for a large scale development – 8,000 year round residents in over 1,700 units -- in some of the most important wildlife habitat in the heart of West.

Impacts of the proposed development threaten local businesses in nearby Archuleta and Rio Grande Counties, unspoiled backcountry recreation opportunities along the Continental Divide, water supply and water quality for downstream communities, rare and ecologically valuable fen wetlands, one of the most critical wildlife corridors in the Southern Rocky Mountains, and the scenic beauty of our Colorado wild spaces.

Please tell USDA Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to stop the destruction of Wolf Creek Pass, an irreplaceable Colorado treasure.


Letter to: 
Chief, USDA Forest Service, Tom Tidwell

Dear Chief Tidwell, 
Recent actions by the Rio Grande National Forest have set into motion a plan that will destroy one of our nation’s most important wildlife movement corridors – Wolf Creek Pass. 
A national coalition of conservation and climate modeling experts has identified Wolf Creek Pass as one of the top ten landscapes that should receive immediate and lasting protection as part of a national climate change strategy.  
Protection of the area will: 
1) sequester carbon and advance climate change mitigation objectives; 
2) safeguard streams and aquifer sources that provide clean water for communities; and 
3) conserve vital high altitude wildlife habitat that will preserve species biodiversity in the face of climate change.

Alberta Park (Wolf Creek) Construction Moratorium July 15, 2015

Edited Saturday evening 6/18/2015

I've been out of state traveling untethered from the internet, so it was a nice homecoming surprise to read the Durango Herald's July 15th story by Peter Marcus reporting on a new VWC development, pun intended.  Leavell McCombs Joint Venture agrees not to conduct any on-site construction activity until after the current lawsuit is settled.

The lawsuit objects to various failures in the EIS process along with its unjustifiably narrow scope of review.  

It seems to me the best way to describe the problem is that the Rio Grande National Forest (USDA) has restricted their entire line of inquiry and regulatory hurdles on the a priori assumption that construction of a resort must happen up at Alberta Park.  

A judgment call many vehemently object to since it totally ignores the value of the current biologically productive landscape that is the Alberta Park "parcel."  A keystone of the entire Wolf Creek basin!

Towards Alberta Park including Alberta Park Reservoir

Another reason it matters is that this is source-waters for the interstate, international Rio Grande River.

Image from "Cry Wolf Creek: fanatic following at Colorado's snowiest spot" June 28, 2010


From under Elma's chairlift towards Alberta Park and a pond.

The following is the official press release giving further details.

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2015

No Construction on Wolf Creek Pass until Lawsuit is Decided

Denver, CO – Conservation organizations, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture signed an agreement today that will halt all construction and development on two disputed land parcels at the top of Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado. The agreement will maintain the physical status quo on Forest Service and private land while a lawsuit filed by the conservation organizations works its way through Federal Court.

July 2nd, IDTV report - Wolf Creek Opponents File Lawsuit

Wolf Creek Opponents File Law Suit 
July 2, 2015

The battle against the village at Wolf Creek, 
escalates into a full blown law suit.