Only You Can Prevent Land Rape


Colorado is a big state. There's lots of mountains, lots of skiing, and normally that's a good thing. Depending on how it's done, ski area enlargement and development can be good for a community. Or it can be problematic. Sometimes it can be REALLY problematic.

And then there is the current recipe for disaster in Colorado's Southwestern corner. Take one right wing octogenarian Texas businessman, used to getting his way come hell or high water, add a delicate lynx habitat, mix in several vigilant environmental groups, 30 years of political knife fighting, stir briskly, and you have the debacle known as the Village at Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek Ski Area is a small, family-owned resort known and loved primarily by locals, who dig its high crests, its deep powder, and laid-back atmosphere. The area rests at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass, a 10,857-high nailbiter for flatlanders, but a cool drink of alpine paradise for everyone else. In fact, 1970's country outlaw musician C.W. McCall (of Convoy fame) even made a song about the place.

Enter one Red McCombs. You can read all about the Texas billionaire's infamy as the co-founder of the right wing megaphone empire Clear Channel in Wikipedia, to get a good sense of who he is.

McCombs has diligently sought to plant an 8,000 person fen-crushing, habitat-destroying, soul-killing development atop the lonely mountaintop for many years now, and he's unfortunately gotten pretty damn close to doing it, despite several lawsuits and accusations of collusion.

However, things have recently gotten interesting. The San Juan Citizens Alliance, along with several other environmental advocacy groups forced, via multiple FOIA requests, the Rio Grande Forest Service to cough up correspondence related to the development.

And, oh mother...what they found. According to the SJCA, the newly released emails show not only a pattern of apparent collusion between said Texas despoiler and USFS officials, but what looks like an attempt to hide and even actively destroy evidence of that collusion.

Yep, it's a clusterfuck. Have a look at this little gem from Thomas Malecek, a district ranger at the time:

"We are on track. Dan [Dallas's] main concern wasn't the letter, but the emails around the letter that might be a little damaging in the event they are not all deleted in case we get a foia ... remember we are swimming with sharks and need to keep the emails from even the remote appearance of whatever, so make sure you burn this once read!"

Malecek wrote that on Aug. 24, 2012, in an email that was withheld from two previous FOIA requests. There's lots more to the story, and you can read about it here.

And after you read about it, think about having a little civic participatory session with your computer. Write our fair senator, Michael Bennet, (because Cory Gardner sure isn't going to give a shit), and let him know that it's perhaps time for an Attorney General or two to have a look at the whole thing.

After all, only YOU can prevent land rape.