The Forest Service officially has closed its review of the Village at Wolf Creek.
However, developers say that doesn't necessarily mean the project is dead.
"We have not received a new application from Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture requesting access across the Forest, so we released the analysis team members," said Jeni Evans, deputy forest supervisor for the San Luis Valley Public Lands Center, in a news release.
"Fantastic," said Ryan Demmy Bidwell of Colorado Wild, a Durango group that sued the Forest Service over its approval of roads to the Village. "I guess this is something of a formality, but I'm glad to hear the developer has not come back with a new proposal to date."
Original plans called for a resort of as many as 10,000 people on 287 acres in a meadow below Wolf Creek Ski Area. The project was the subject of several lawsuits and pitted environmentalists against local boosters and the developers - Red McCombs and Bob Honts of Texas, who operate as Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture.
Colorado Wild declared victory last year when the developers and Forest Service agreed to throw out the Environmental Impact Statement that granted access to the Village property.
They began a new analysis last spring. But the Forest Service halted the process after Colorado Wild pointed out a map the developers filed with Mineral County showing a much smaller Village. Foresters said they couldn't do an analysis until they knew Leavell-McCombs' intentions for the property.
A spokesman for the Village said he's still not ready to go public with plans, but he hopes to announce something in the coming weeks.
"I think all of us are chomping at the bit to get out there and say, 'We are still here. We haven't disappeared,'" said Clint Jones, executive vice president of Hal Jones Development.
The company replaced Honts as the point man for McCombs for the new Environmental Impact Statement.
Forest officials have spoken to the developers by phone, but the developers made no official requests since foresters rejected the latest application.
In the settlement with Colorado Wild, the Forest Service agreed to do the latest EIS using its own personnel instead of third-party contractors. Rio Grande National Forest brought in experts from outside the area, including a team leader from Mark Twain National Forest, said Rio Grande spokesman Mike Blakeman. Those people were released Thursday.
"We had nothing in writing, and we have to function that way. We couldn't hold that team forever," Blakeman said.
If Leavell-McCombs comes back with a new application, the Forest Service still would use its own personnel for the environmental analysis, Blakeman said.
Thursday's move leaves open the question of what will happen to the 287-acre property near the top of Wolf Creek Pass.
Bidwell said he hopes the developers consider trading the land back to the Forest Service.
Leavell-McCombs and the owners of Wolf Creek Ski Area were embroiled in a four-year lawsuit they settled last May. The settlement terms never were disclosed, but the map showing the smaller Village was dated the same week the lawsuit was settled.
However, the developers never submitted a plan for a smaller Village, aside from the map they filed with Mineral County.
Jones said people shouldn't speculate one way or the other about plans for the property.
"In terms of what the Village is going to be, that's what we're looking at right now," Jones said.
If Leavell-McCombs comes back with a new application for road access, Rio Grande foresters "will evaluate and consider the next steps at that time," according to a Thursday news release by Rio Grande National Forest officials.