DENVER — The United States Forest Service has declined to appeal an order issued last May by Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch nullifying the land exchange that would provide necessary road access for the long-sought Village at Wolf Creek development. The agency failed to file an appeal by the May 9th deadline despite having originally notified the court last November of its intent to appeal.
Conservation groups were thrilled to hear that the decision to set aside the land exchange isn’t being appealed by the Forest Service and other federal agencies.
“This is welcome news for everyone who loves and appreciates Wolf Creek Pass in its current condition,” said Jimbo Buickerood, lands program manager at San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The Village at Wolf Creek has always been the wrong project in the wrong location.”
The development, envisioned to accommodate 8,000 people atop Wolf Creek Pass, has been a decades-long controversy. The pass is not only a critical wildlife corridor, linking the Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness areas, but is habitat for the threatened Canada lynx and supports rare fen wetlands.
“This is great news for the wilds of Colorado and for us lovers of the wild. Lynx can breath a sigh relief,” said Sloan Shoemaker, Wilderness Workshop’s executive director.
Rocky Mountain Wild, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance and Wilderness Workshop, who brought the original lawsuit, vow to continue defending Wolf Creek Pass against continued and future threats.
“We began working on this issue in 2000” said San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council Director Christine Canaly. “Public involvement challenging the development has remained strong for almost two decades because of the magnitude of environmental impact that was being put at risk. Colorado loves our public lands and wildlife.”