Header image by Jeff Cricco, courtesy of Wolf Creek Ski Area
Over the past 30 years, the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture developers, headed by billionaire Texan B.J. Combs, has been trying to build a behemoth resort property at the base of Colorado’s resident powder wonderland ski area, Wolf Creek.
The prospective lodge, which according to The Durango Herald would hold up to 10,000 people.
While Wolf Creek is modest in its infrastructure, its snowfall totals are anything but. In fact, the southern Colorado ski area averages the most annual snowfall in Colorado. It’s known for its snow and not for the crowds, unlike many of its northern brethren. Many skiers would prefer it to stay that way; an adventure off the beaten path. And with recent events, it appears it just might for the time being.
In 2017, after the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) approved a land swap, giving developers access to the land at the base of Wolf Creek, a federal judge ruled that the Forest Service had not followed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to its full extent.
NEPA states that a federal agency must completely evaluate the environmental risks before approving a decision. Environmentalists argued that the USFS had overlooked its duty, and Federal Judge Richard P. Match agreed.
Wednesday marked the USFS’s deadline to appeal Judge Match’s decision—they chose to remain silent. The Durango Herald reached out to the USFS and U.S. Justice Department for comments, but their requests were not returned.
The situation is not over yet, as the developers appealed Wednesday, claiming the evaluation of the environmental impacts of the development were done fairly and legally.
For now however, it would appear that without an appeal from the USFS, the 10,000 guest resort will have to wait.
For some, this may come as poor news. But for the skiers that travel to Wolf Creek for the deep snow and lack of crowds, it’s cause for celebration.