Caught Red-handed stealing land

To the editor,

Here’s the latest twist in the never-ending sage of Red McCombs Village at Wolf Creek pipe-dream. Seems that Friends of Wolf Creek got tired of waiting for their legitimate FOIA request to be honored. Nothing had been handed over, although the deadline had passed well over 200 days earlier.

Now a U.S. Magistrate has stepped in to order the Forest Service to start releasing those papers. This has the usual suspects all up in arms about how poor old McCombs’ is being abused by out of control environmentalists.

“There is a law that says the USFS has to grant access to inholdings,” ... McCombs has a sacred property-owners’ right to develop that land if he wants, curses to those damned environmentalists for playing legal hardball.

There is another side to this story. As it happens We the People firmly believe this is a property rights dispute. Our property was stolen from us, and we have an ethical duty to fight tooth and nail with every legal tool at our disposal until that property gets back to its rightful owner, the American people via the Rio Grande National Forest.

After all, Red’s claim is totally based on manipulating a law that was intended for completely different circumstances. You see, among many other things, in 1980 ANILCA was created for property owners who suddenly found themselves in a landlocked “inholding” because of a newly created national park or other federally designated area.

In the 1980s, McCombs (with pals LMJV) purchased three middle-of-nowhere San Luis Valley foothill parcels that the Forest Service had been eyeing in order to pretty up map boundaries (seriously). McCombs then engaged in those go-go ‘80s national forest real estate poker games hoping to parlay those low-value parcels for a bonanza at the heart of the Wolf Creek drainage basin, near Wolf Creek Ski Area.

It didn’t matter to him that Alberta Park was an integral part of the Wolf Creek watershed and protected for the general good of the American people since 1908.

All McCombs could see was profits, totally oblivious to what an amazing biological keystone this piece of unadulterated wetlands and ancient fens wilderness was for the greater Wolf Creek watershed and the Rio Grande River for that matter. Ecological balance, environmental concerns, nurturing our wildlands – all those considerations Red’s developers and boosters laugh off as hippy devil talk.

Back to Red’s real estate poker game: he lost in Colorado. State and regional Forest Service officials concluded his was a bad bet for the health of the Rio Grande National Forest and river and they roundly rejected LMJV’s land swap offer.

But, Red held a trump card, billionaires own politicians, so back in the “real world” of Washington D.C., deep in the bowels of the USDA, papers were fixed, and presto, Red got his land swap.

Now his enablers are again pulling out their standard GOP victim card, crying foul because the poor guy is having to put up with yet more of these never-ending legal hurdles. Cry me a river. Red’s a billionaire and We are the People. Deal with it.

McCombs has been dishonest from the get go, such as telling everyone he wanted a few luxury cabins. After the deal was in, his plans blossomed to 10,000 people worth of luxury homes. Well, Red got caught and he got stopped. Here’s one for the American way.

Just because others got away with it, is no reason for us to let Red get away with his atrocious dream of destroying Alberta Park’s ancient watershed and fens, which building hundreds of homes and businesses on top of certainly will do, no matter how many berms you bulldoze into place for show.

We warned McCombs decades ago, his intentions were ill considered, destructive, unethical and bound to arouse deep moral indignation, antipathy and opposition among Colorado citizens and taxpayers. But will they ever learn?

Unfortunately, it seems to have evolved from a desired speculative business deal to an angry, old, richer-than-god guy, who’d rather get even than learn some lessons and admit maybe he was wrong and enough is enough.

Leave Alberta Park and Wolf Creek alone!

– Peter Miesler, friend of Alberta Park, No-village