Thursday, May 25, 2017

What’s RGNF/USDA learned from Judge Matsch’s rebuke?

The VWC Saga continues.  I have been in contact with the Forest Service and want to share our correspondence in keeping with my goal of being an information kiosk for those interested in helping save Alberta Park from destructive development. 
For this post I’m going to start with my second email to the Rio Grande National Forest and backtrack from there:
Dear Communication Officers Blakeman, Lujan and Superintendent Dallas,

Communication Officer Lawrence Lujan responded to my questions with a one-liner:  "We are evaluating the court’s ruling and have no further comment at this time."  Nothing more.  

No hint of when the public can hope to hear RGNF/USDA’s response to the reprimand it received from Senior Federal Judge Matsch regarding its handling of the Village At Wolf Creek land swap negotiations and subsequent Environmental Impact Study and Draft.

This matters because from the public’s perspective the RGNF/USDA has maintained a decidedly pro-development stance during the past decades of negotiating with the wheeler dealer from the Texan lowlands.  In the process it has relegated environmental issues such as wetlands, fens concerns, wildlife corridor issues, health issues, fundamental feasibility issues with the project - to irrelevant externalities to be addressed by someone else, somewhere down the road after the irreparable damage is underway.

Judge Matsch made clear how inappropriate that outlook and actions were.  

The Rio Grande National Forest Administration and its USDA bosses are supposed to be the guardians of Forest Service lands.  They are supposed to defend The People’s interests, not act as middlemen for ill-starred development dreams. 

That’s the crux of this latest Village at Wolf Creek fiasco, the People exposed the developer's deception and it was found to be unacceptable.  I don't think my questions were rude or out of line.  Straightforward perhaps.  Why not?  

Also I want to point out how odd it seems that the Regional Office has silenced our local Rio Grande National Forest communications officer from engaging in this dialogue.  

I appreciate Officer Lujan’s position, but I also appreciate that Officer Blakeman represents RGNF itself and I just as soon continue following appropriate channels by including Officer Blakeman in the loop. 


Peter Miesler

May 25, 2017

The above letter was inspired by the following responses to my initial inquire written the day before:

Response from Communication Officer Blakeman:

Hi Peter,

All responses to inquiries concerning the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project are being handled by Lawrence Lujan (copied on this email) out of our regional office.

Hope all is well on the west side.



Response from Communication Officer Lujan:


We are evaluating the court’s ruling and have no further comment at this time.



My first email read:

Good morning Mike, and Superintendent Dallas,

Are things cooling down yet?  I'm assuming Judge Matsch's ruling has had you flooded with information requests, probably still does.  Hope you don't mind, here's another one on behalf of my blog  I've already relayed the news, but would like to document the Rio Grande National Forest Administration's reaction, and more importantly what lessons have been learned.  

As you can imagine I'm feeling pretty good and have posted the text of the judge's ruling along with other posts.  I've long advocated that the fragile and precious national wetlands resource called Alberta Park, nestled on the Rio Grande River side of Wolf Creek Pass deserves to be proactively protected from destructive development.  It reads to me as though the judge affirms that attitude and the "public's" standing in this matter, but that's me.

I'm hoping you can offer some official perspective on what this rulings means.

What is the official RGNF response? 

Has this ruling initiated any figurative soul-searching within the RGNF Administration?

Does Forest Supervisor Dallas understand why it was unacceptable and improper to relegate development impacts on that watershed/wetlands (and all the other contingency impacts of development) to irrelevance? 

Why has RGNF felt compelled to facilitate development interests rather than protection of that parcel?

What does the ruling mean for the RGNF and it's dealing with LMJV and the Alberta Park threat moving forward?

Has the US Forest Service made any efforts to offer MLJV a land trade deal with a parcel lower in elevation and more amenable to development?

Thank you for your time.

Peter Miesler
May 24, 2017

MAY 21, 2017
Judge Has Ruled - Red McCombs and LMJV land swap nullified. Text of Ruling.

MAY 20, 2017
UPDATE - VWC-RGNF deal tossed out! Judge Rejects Flawed Process - RockyMtnWild Press Release

MAY 21, 2017
Village At Wolf Creek developments - collection of news stories, May 2017


For supporting evidence I'm copying an index I put together January 24, 2014:

All remains quiet regarding the upcoming release of the VWC-DEIS.

While we continue waiting on the long over due Village at Wolf Creek Landswap Environmental Impact Statement to be released - I figure it's a good time to share this index to a series of comments I submitted to the VWC-DEIS team.  It will be interesting to see how they deal with the various important outstanding issues that have been raised by many people.

Feel free to copy and share any of the posts here at 
NO - Village at Wolf Creek 
Where third party references are used, please be sure to include an acknowledgement of those third parties including their links.  

    •    VWC-DEIS 3.7.6 Fens

Link to the Rio Grande National Forest official information page

1 comment:

  1. I've been told some read this as implying a conspiracy or collaboration between LMJV and RGNF/USDA to create this pro-development bias that's been displayed throughout the long years of struggle over the fate of Alberta Park.

    That is not what I'm implying, I see it as a systemic problem and not the collusion any particular individuals.

    This is also why I believe the public should be privy to how the Forest Service is processing the message it received from Judge Matsch - and what changes it will make moving forward.