PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Opposition to a resort village near the top of Wolf Creek Pass remains strong despite efforts to either build a resort or trade the land to the Forest Service for easier highway access.

Supporters and critics toured the site on Tuesday, but questions about wetlands protection, water supplies and highway access remained. Opponents say the project would degrade the environment and tax the services of Mineral County, home to fewer than 1,000 people about 250 miles southwest of Denver.

Texas developer Red McCombs wants to build residences, shops, hotels and other services for up to 10,000 people. Developers have proposed swapping 207 of McCombs’ roughly 300 acres with 207 acres of national forest land a little farther to the east.

Environmentalist Paul Joyce said he would like the Forest Service to study whether the village is appropriate at all. But Rio Grande National Forest spokesman Mike Blakeman told the Durango Herald that the agency can study the proposed village, but not block it.

District Ranger Tom Malecek led Tuesday’s field trip. He said the Forest Service hopes to have an Environmental Impact Statement ready by late winter.

The statement will offer a number of alternatives, one of which would be to grant McCombs road access to his existing property. The Forest Service gave him access after a previous study, but a federal judge threw out that decision as flawed.

If the land trade doesn’t happen, McCombs’ spokesman, Clint Jones said McCombs intends to build the village anyway on land he already owns.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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