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.
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 residence – in some of the most important wildlife habitat in the heart of the 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.
On Endangered Species Day in 2017, Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch decided in favor of our group, nullifying the controversial land exchange at Wolf Creek Pass! Judge Matsch found that the Forest Service “failed to consider important aspects of the issues before them, offered an explanation for their decision that runs counter to the evidence, failed to base their decision on consideration of the relevant factors, and based their decision on an analysis that is contrary to law.”
Check out our press release.
Judge Blocks Land Deal for Development at Colorado Ski Area article.
Federal judge halts Village Wolf Creek land swap article.
Federal judge nixes Wolf Creek development scheme article.
On June 16, 2017, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture filed a Motion to Reconsider asking Judge Matsch to reconsider his previous decision, alleging that Judge Matsch suffered from “a misapprehension of controlling laws and facts.”
On September 14, 2017, Judge Mastch denied this Motion describing the Forest Service’s Wolf Creek
Decision as “a patent effort to circumvent [the agencies] obligations to protect the natural environment of the Forest.” Judge Matsch again reiterated that the Forest Service’s decision was unlawful and an “attempt at an artful dodge of its responsibility.”
Check out our press release.
Court denies McCombs – again article.
Federal court blocks Wolf Creek land exchange, again article.
Village at Wolf Creek appeal denied article.
Judge deals yet another blow to Red McCombs’ plan for Village Wolf Creek Resort article.
We’re not done yet. On October 16, 2017, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture filed an appeal to Judge Matsch’s decision that the Village at Wolf Creek development was approved “contrary to law.”
“From the beginning, we’ve wanted an honest analysis of the impacts of this giant development,” Matt Sandler, Rocky Mountain Wild’s staff attorney said of the case. “And instead of going back and doing that, we’ve got the developer continuing to fight and fight and fight.”
On November 9, 2017, The Forest Service joined them in appealing the decision.
But if it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get. Friends of Wolf Creek is ready to argue this case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
For an in-depth, chronological history of this case, visit the Friends of Wolf Creek Background page.
Donate to the Cause
We have ongoing litigation to try and protect Wolf Creek Pass from this development. If you’d like to support our battle to keep Wolf Creek Pass wild, please donate on our GivingFuel page. Select “Friends of Wolf Creek” under “Direct My Donation.”