Wolf Creek

Forest Service should do nothing to aid development of the proposed ‘village’

It is tempting from time to time to decry the pop-culture obsession with zombies. Except that as anyone familiar with the history of the proposed Village at Wolf Creek would have to acknowledge, such creatures exist. But while the village proposal might be difficult to kill, it should not be encouraged.

For more than 25 years, Texas businessman B.J. “Red” McCombs has been trying to build a resort near Wolf Creek Ski Area. Through time, plans have varied to include anywhere from a few hundred homes to a town with a population of more than 10,000. The largest plan now on the table calls for 1,700 units, while a more moderate scenario envisions 500 units. Even that could more than double visitors to Wolf Creek.

The U.S. Forest Service released the latest draft Environmental Impact study Friday. It details three possible options after the developer asked to trade 178 acres of private land for 204 acres of government property to ensure access to 287 acres of private land where the village is planned. The report designates the land swap as the preferred option.

The other options would be to give the developer access to his property using a road or to do nothing. Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas will choose among the three.

He should choose to take no action. The Forest Service may lack the ability to kill the village project outright, and its decision-making is famously constrained by rules, but Dallas has been presented with three options. Picking the “no action” one would simply recognize that no widely acceptable plan has yet been put forth.

In fact, no credible plan has been proposed. As has been true at every turn, the developer’s plan simply does not make sense. Wolf Creek is a fun ski area that gets a tremendous amount of snow. But for marketing to the demographic that buys resort real estate, it has serious drawbacks.

Its base is at 10,300 feet. That is no problem to a young Coloradan in good shape but might be a deterrent to an aging baby boomer with a sea-level desk job. It is also remote, with Durango having the nearest commercially served airport and the nearest town, Pagosa Springs, on the other side of Wolf Creek Pass. And, to be honest, it lacks the sheer physical beauty of Durango Mountain Resort or Telluride.

Nothing about this proposed development adds up, and it never has. The Forest Service should recognize that and take a pass.