The suspense is over. Red McCombs and family have decided to appeal Judge Matsch’s May decision, which nullified the 2015 Village at Wolf Creek/ LMJV landswap agreement with the Rio Grande National Forest/US Agriculture Department.
There’s much to be said, but here I focus on a quote in the Durango Herald from Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture’s attorney Bill Leone, who is a partner with the heavyweight Fulbright and Jaworski Law Firm and a top notch legal gunslinger, who assures us:
“The Leavell-McCombs Joint-Venture believes strongly the project is a good project and the Forest Service did everything it needed to do to study the environmental impacts of that project.”
Good for whom? Good for what? What good will it be for the Rio Grande National Forest?
What good will it be for the Alberta Park watershed at the source waters of the Rio Grande River? What good will it be for the well-being of this wildlife corridor and its occupants? What good will it be for taxpayers and local governments who are left holding a boondoggle?
What good will it be for the huge, complex subsurface hydrology that supports, among other things, rare millennia- old fens? Which happen to be excellent for purification and storage of meltwater before it begins its course down the Rio Grande River to awaiting stakeholders.
My gosh, think about it, these developers and their lawyer know so little about biology and nature’s hydrology and rivers that they in all innocence proclaim that bulldozing a village of 8,000 into Alberta Park won’t adversely impact the Rio Grande River or the surrounding subalpine environment. Come on, who’s kidding whom?
They have no conception of Alberta Park as an integral part of the Rio Grande River’s source waters and the area’s wildlife. LMJV and their various spokesmen over the decades consistently dismiss legitimate concerns with vague assurances and an attitude of ‘trust us, we know what’s best.”
What is this Village at Wolf Creek speculation good for, Attorney Leone? Good for the lawyers earning their keep endlessly litigating like a dog chasing its tail? Mr. Leone’s grossly biased opinion is: “RGNF did all it needed to do.”
Think about where that’s coming from for a moment. The attorney’s world is devoid of objectivity, or concerns with honesty. Winning is all he cares about.
Senior Judge Matsch wrote in his May 2017 ruling: “What (the National Environmental Policy Act) requires is that before taking any major action a federal agency must stop and take a careful look to determine the environmental impact of that decision, and listen to the public before taking action. The Forest Service failed to do that in the Record of Decision. The duty of this Court is to set it aside.”
His September denial of the developers’ request to reconsider clearly stated: “The Forest Service cannot abdicate its responsibility to protect the forest by making an attempt at an artful dodge.”
We have still hanging over us an oligarch’s 1980s repeatedly foiled pipe dream. Now this billionaire is angry and believes Colorado owes him. Who is there to convince McCombs to accept NO? Lawyers who spend their lives litigating? The RGNF bureaucracy, where lawyers tell officials to be silent? Environmental groups that come across as private clubs? What about We the People? Red McCombs enterprises knows only profits and PR. Individually, we the people are impotent. But collectively? Do you love the Wolf Creek area? Sport a NoPillage at Wolf Creek bumper sticker? Well then, get engaged, get informed, take a pen or computer in hand, plead for the continued integrity of Alberta Park and the Wolf Creek area.
Peter Miesler writes from near Durango and maintains NO-VillageAtWolfCreek.blogspot.com, a kiosk of information advocating for Alberta Park to be left alone.