Federal judge nixes Wolf Creek development scheme

Forest Service violated federal law with land swap approval

By: Bob Berwyn, Summit County Citizens Voice
May 20, 2017

A map included in a feasibility analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade
A map included in a feasibility analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade

A federal court judge has put an end to a 30-year battle over a proposed resort development at Wolf Creek Pass.

Ruling that the U.S. Forest Service violated federal law when it made an arbitrary and capricious decision to approve a land exchange near Wolf Creek Ski Area, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch set aside the agency’s 2015 approval for a land trade that would have enabled large-scale resort development., The decisions says the Forest Service failed to look closely at the environmental impacts of its decision, and failed to listen to the public before making its decision.

Court records also suggest the Forest Service tried to cover up for its flawed decision by hiding key documents. The ruling also casts a spotlight on the dubious land exchange process that often favors private economic interests over the public interest.

The ruling was hailed as an “incredible victory for the flora and fauna that rely on Wolf Creek pass for their survival,” according Tehri Parker, executive director of Rocky Mountain Wild, the nonprofit advocacy group that has been fighting the development proposal for so many years.

Judge Matsch spelled out the reasons for his decision in a 40-page ruling that covered the convoluted history of the project, including charges that the Forest Service was unduly influenced by the development proponent who lobbied high level federal officials for approval.

Read more from the Summit County Citizens Voice.

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