Stop the destruction of Wolf Creek Pass

We're not done yet - Wolf Creek Pass

The Continuing Battle to Keep Wolf Creek Wild

In June 2018, we learned of a January 12, 2018 letter sent to the Forest Service by the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture where they demanded that the Forest Service ignore recent court decisions and instead approve road construction to begin the proposed real estate development.

In response to this new revelation, the Friends of Wolf Creek issued a petition to urge Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas to uphold Federal Court Orders and stand up to back channel pressures and encouraged supporters to submit objections during the objection period.

As was expected, supporters who did not have standing to object by the Forest Service’s definition began to receive rejections to their objections on October 17, 2018. However, people who had submitted comments in the past and therefore would have standing began to receive the letters as well. If you have received a rejection letter but believe you have standing, please follow the directions laid out in the second paragraph by contacting Olga Troxel so that your objection will not be set aside.

We are collecting these rejections from people and our litigating groups and counsel will chart a course on how to approach these generic denials. Please email your rejection letter with the approximate date you sent your objection (if known), a copy of your objection (if you feel comfortable sending it), if you submitted comments in the past, and approximate date you sent comments in the past if you can remember (years are also helpful if you can’t remember exact dates). We will track those and provide them to our lawyers.

Meanwhile, on December 11, 2018, a federal appeals court dismissed the latest attempt from the would-be developers of the Village at Wolf Creek to reinstate a land exchange rejected by a federal judge on Endangered Species Day in May 2017. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver dismissed the developer’s appeal, based on a lack of appellate jurisdiction. The dismissal leaves in place the District Court’s findings, as well as its invalidation of the land exchange. Read the full press release and court opinion.

Together, we can stop the bulldozers of Wolf Creek Pass.

More Information

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 May 9, 2018, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture filed the appellate opening brief, but the US Forest Service declined to appeal the Order issued by Judge Matsch. Since the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture was an intervenor in the lawsuit, there’s a chance that it can’t proceed with the appeals process.

We will continue to monitor and report back everything we hear, and we vow to continue defending Wolf Creek Pass against continued and future threats.

Check out our Press Release: Forest Service Declines to Appeal Decision Nullifying Wolf Creek Land Exchange.
“Village at Wolf Creek” developers dealt a blow in long battle article.

In June 2018, we learned of a January 12, 2018 letter sent to the Forest Service by the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture where they demanded that the Forest Service ignore recent court decisions and instead approve road construction to begin the proposed real estate development.

Friends of Wolf Creek began a letter writing and petition campaign, but the Forest Service tried to severely limit who could protest this action by limiting objections to those who “previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed project during scoping or comments on the draft EIS” in 2012.

On October 17, 2018, supporters who did not have standing to object by the Forest Service’s definition began to receive rejections to their objections. However, so did people who should have had standing.

On November 20, 2018, the Forest Service issued a Response to Objections on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, rejecting all objections to the project.

On December 11, 2018, a federal appeals court dismissed the latest attempt from the would-be developers of the Village at Wolf Creek to reinstate a land exchange rejected by a federal judge on Endangered Species Day in May 2017. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver dismissed the developer’s appeal, based on a lack of appellate jurisdiction. The dismissal leaves in place the District Court’s findings, as well as its invalidation of the land exchange. Read the full press release and court opinion.

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.”