This year I find myself in
If there ever were a reason to resist the triumphs of capitalism, these little industrial vistas set in the
In 1998 misguided Earth Liberation Front (ELF) radicals allegedly torched some buildings and ski lifts in Vail, not all that far from here. As of last year a few of these activists, after being targeted by the feds and a FBI collaborator, began serving prison time for the arson. Others who still face indictments continue to remain at large. But sparking matches in the middle of the night isn’t a brave action, it was a reactionary one — not to mention shortsighted as Vail later rebuilt its resort with even grander and more damaging results. Insurance pays.
In order to halt the ruination of these untamed places, a concerted effort among the citizens of
Right now the group, along with Friends of Wolf Creek, are hoping to stop the construction of a 10,000 person village in the middle of the San Juan Mountains, one of the snowiest regions of
The “Village at
Right now the fight over the blueprints for Village at
Most recently, on August 22, after a long awaited appeal by McCombs and company to Judge Kuenhold’s 2005 decision, and with a cross-suit by Colorado Wild and Wolf Creek Ski Area, the three members of the Colorado Court of Appeals finally heard the appeals and focused almost solely on the issue of road access. The district judge in the previous hearing had upheld the other portions of the county’s approval for development.
As of now the only road that accesses the McComb property, which accounts for 287 acres, is Forest Service Road 391. Like most skid roads and other rough Forest Service paths cut through these alpine regions, 391 is narrow, unpaved, and closed for most of the year. McCombs no doubt would like to expand 391 and make it available to intrepid tourists year-round.
McComb’s team argued that their client has legal access to his property. On the other hand, Andrew Shoemaker, the ski area’s lawyer who has sided with Colorado Wild, said the dirt road is not suited for grandiose development, which even includes a power plant.
“If one occupant of the 10,000 occupants is traveling out and you’re traveling in, you don’t have access. You’re obstructed,” Shoemaker told the court. “It would be different if they had proposed a hunting lodge. But this is a Texas-sized development. They wanted the whole shebang.”
Besides 391, the Forest Service has authorized two additional roads, to which Colorado Wild challenged in federal court and was victorious. For a while anyway. U.S. District Judge John Kane temporarily stopped McCombs from developing the proposed roads. The latest proceedings of the Colorado Court of Appeals may take months to finalize. In the meantime, Colorado Wild is keeping up the pressure.
“There’s no immediate threat [that construction will start],” Ryan Demmy Bidwell, executive director of Colorado Wild, told the Durango Herald. “There’s roughly two months left of snow-free season, and then that window rapidly closes again.”
So the battles rage on by a courageous few to protect the freedom of the wild in these desolate, iconic parts of the
Joshua Frank is the co-editor of DissidentVoice.org, and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in July 2008.