Vail invoked at Wolf Creek ski area |

Vail invoked at Wolf Creek ski area

Allen Best

WOLF CREEK PASS, Colo. – Some people are using a four-letter word to describe what Red McCombs, owner of the Minnesota Vikings football team, has in mind for the base of the Wolf Creek ski area.That four-letter word is Vail, as in “Vail-sized city.” McComb’s development company has 287 acres on which he wants to build 2,172 housing units, 12 restaurants, several hotels and a convention center, among other things.Actually, that doesn’t even come close to describing the size of Vail, nor a Telluride, a Crested Butte or even a Winter Park. All are much bigger. But it’s entirely different from what is found now at the base of the ski area, which is to say, nothing. Skiers, even the destination types from Texas and Oklahoma, drive up from towns at the foot of the pass.The Durango Telegraph describes a storm of controversy over the project. McCombs got the property in 1989 in a land-exchange with the Forest Service. Forest Service employees in Colorado didn’t want the land exchange, but were overruled by officials in Washington D.C. In wildlife matters, as is true of real estate, it’s a matter of location, location, location. With that in mind, environmental activists say it’s a rotten place to build a town, because it’s on a corridor that connects two wilderness areas that serve as wildlife preserves. Add up the remote location, the 10,300-foot elevation and the harsh climate – Wolf Creek almost always gets more snow than any other ski area in Colorado – and the proposal does not make financial sense, says Jeff Berman of the environmental group Colorado Wild.For unspecified reasons, the Forest Service remains involved and is now doing an environmental study that activists say is improperly being fast-tracked.Canadian caribou herds decliningREVELSTOKE, B.C. Woodland caribou herds in the Revelstoke area are imperiled, says a former mayor. So says Gail Bernacki, who chairs the Revelstoke Caribou Recovery Committee.British Columbia seems to have the most mountain caribou, although some herds are found in the United States. Revelstoke’s woodland caribou are a sub-group of the mountain species. Two years ago, several biologists warned mountain caribou in British Columbia have declined rapidly and the species was at risk if drastic steps were not soon taken. In response, several recovery groups were created, and timber cutters and snowmobile groups have tried to reduce human intrusion into local caribou feeding areas. But little else has happened, Bernacki told the Revelstoke Times Review. A recent census shows a continued decline of 11 percent a year.

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