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Forest Service seeks comments on Village at Wolf Creek Access Project

The Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF) is seeking comments on the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) during a 45-day public comment period upon publication in the Federal Register on Friday, Aug. 17.

The analysis was initiated as a result of a land exchange application submitted by Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture (LMJV).

“A lot of hard work has gone into the analysis for this DEIS,” said Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas. “I encourage the public, special interest groups and our partner agencies to carefully review the DEIS and provide comments that will help further improve our analysis.”

The Forest Service will hold three open house meetings to provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the analysis and provide comments. The meetings will be held:

• Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Creede Community Center, Forest Service Road 503, Creede, Colo.

• Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Ross Aragon Community Center, 451 Hot Springs Boulevard, Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Thursday, Aug. 30, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Rio Grande County Annex, 965 6th Street, Del Norte, Colo.

The DEIS includes analyses of the land exchange as the proposed action, an access alternative, and a no-action alternative. The proposed land exchange involves approximately 204 federal acres and 178 non-federal acres within the boundaries of the Rio Grande National Forest. Part of the federal land proposed for exchange would connect the private land to U.S. 160, thus precluding the need for securing access across the national forest.

The primary benefits of the land exchange proposal over the previous easement access proposal include scaled down development on the private land, relocation of most of the proposed private land development to an area farther away from the ski area, and a net gain to the Forest Service via acquisition of wetlands and perennial stream habitat for wildlife.

LMJV previously sought a right-of-way access across RGNF from U.S. Highway 160 to their private land. Since their private land is surrounded by National Forest System land, LMJV is entitled by federal statute to have granted to them by the Forest Service a right-of-way for access commensurate with the reasonable use and enjoyment of their property.

Comments should be submitted within 45 days of the publication of the DEIS notice in the Federal Register on Aug. 17. Comments may be e-mailed to: comments-rocky-mountain-rio-grande@fs.fed.us. Please include “Village at Wolf Creek Access Project DEIS” in the subject line of the e-mail. Hardcopy comments should be addressed to:

Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, c/o Tom Malecek, Divide District Ranger, Rio Grande National Forest, 13308 West Highway 160, Del Norte, CO 81132.

For more information about the proposed Village at Wolf Creek Access Project, visit the Rio Grande National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/riogrande.

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