Village at Wolf Creek: Land exchange receives tentative approval

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By Mike Blakeman

The Rio Grande National Forest has completed the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project analysis and draft record of decision.

Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas selected Alternative 2, the proposed land exchange between the United States and Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture (LMJV). The land exchange will provide the opportunity for LMJV to develop year-round access to their property.

“After a thorough review of the final environmental impact statement and public comments, I have decided to approve Alternative 2, the land exchange,” said Dallas. “I believe this is the best decision for the land and the public while providing the access to which the proponent is legally entitled.”

Alternative 2 conveys approximately 177 acres of privately held land to the Rio Grande National Forest in exchange for approximately 205 acres of National Forest System land managed by the RGNF.

The land exchange would create a private land parcel of approximately 325 acres extending to U.S. 160 and will accommodate year-round vehicular access.

The existing Tranquility Road would be extended east across NFS land to the private land. This road would provide restricted seasonal access between Wolf Creek Ski Area and the private land.

The primary benefits of the land exchange proposal over the previous right of way proposal include relocation of most of the proposed private land development to an area farther away from the ski area and Forest Service acquisition of wetlands and a perennial stream.

LMJV previously sought a right of way access across RGNF from U.S. 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.

The publication of the draft record of decision in the Valley Courier starts a 45-day objection period. The final decision will be signed if no objections are received. A 45-day resolution period ensues if objections are submitted by individuals who previously provided comments. The resolution period may be extended an additional 30 days for a total of 75 days. The final decision is signed following this resolution period.

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