Archuleta County commissioners have asked U.S. Rep. John Salazar to turn down a request for a Village at Wolf Creek land exchange.
Village developer Clint Jones went public this week with his idea to trade 207 acres of property at the base of Wolf Creek Ski Area for Forest Service land just up the hill, partially adjoining U.S. Highway 160.
Jones wants to work through both the Forest Service and Congress to make the land exchange happen. He pledged that no matter what, the land exchange would be subject to an Environmental Impact Statement.
But in a letter Wednesday to Salazar, Archuleta commissioners asked the Manassa Democrat to keep Congress out of the land exchange.
"There is no benefit to the public from performing or facilitating this land exchange legislatively. We strongly urge your office to oppose any and all legislative consideration of the proposed exchange," said the letter, which is signed by commission Chairman Bob Moomaw but is written on behalf of the full commission.
The commissioners wrote that an environmental review done by the Forest Service would be fairer and open to public input, and even if a congressional land exchange included an EIS, "the public's involvement would be after the fact thereby denying the public any ability to meaningfully affect alternatives to the proposal."
The two-page letter also lists the negative impacts Archuleta commissioners expect from the village, including the effects on traffic, recreation, water quality, schools, emergency services and affordable housing.
Jones said he has asked Salazar to carry a land exchange bill. Salazar said through a spokesman that he is uncertain if he will carry a bill.
B.J. "Red" McCombs, who got ownership of the meadow below the ski area in a 1986 land exchange, brought Jones aboard to finally get the village built after years of regulatory and legal setbacks. Jones proposed a land exchange to move the village roughly northeast, away from ski runs and tucked into trees, partially out of sight of Wolf Creek skiers, he said Thursday.