The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the land exchange raises many issues, including the decision process itself. Consider:
The Forest Service selected the alternative favored by the Glacier Club, and most intrusive on Chris Park, as its preferred option. This was done without any written evaluation criteria or guidelines that could assure the identified issues are given appropriate consideration. This action provoked Rep. John Salazar to write to the secretary of Agriculture saying, “I am deeply concerned that on this matter the Forest Service is not being responsive to the public’s concerns as expressed by both the general public as well as local and federal representatives.”
Only the “no action” option protects the wagon road that the state recently determined is eligible for the National Historic Register. In 2007 the Forest Service was asked to assist in the nomination process by the resident who prepared the application. After two years of no response the application was forwarded to the state. Is this lack of action a signal that the land swap is a done deal?
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement faults the “no action” option for not solving the Glacier Club trespass issue, ignoring the obvious alternative of no action combined with requiring compensation from the Glacier Club for its continuing trespass. It even fails to define the acreage or length of time involved.
It fails to analyze the noise impact of trucks ascending and descending the steep grade of the proposed access road. It fails to identify the highest and best use of the Chris Park parcel – its present use – and how it would be degraded under exchange options. It fails to consider the annual visitor-days use of each parcel.
In 1905, the first forester was instructed “Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good for the greatest number over the long run.” Don’t let this sound guidance on Forest Service management be ignored.
Comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. You have until Oct. 30. Contact Salazar and Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.
John Viner, Durango