By: Joyce Hanson, Law360.com
May 22, 2017
A Colorado federal judge on Friday blocked a public-private land swap that would have let a developer with the U.S. Forest Service’s help build a large, year-round hotel, condo and commercial complex near the remote Wolf Creek Ski Area, ruling the government failed to adequately consider the environmental impact and local opposition.
Senior U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch agreed with the argument of environmental groups Rocky Mountain Wild, San Luis Valley Ecosystems Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance and Wilderness Workshop — which had filed suit in June 2015 — that the deal violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, among other laws and regulations. He ordered the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to drop their land exchange deal with the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture that would have given the developers access via U.S. Highway 160 to private land owned by the developers within the Rio Grande National Forest.
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