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Court orders Wolf Creek documents released

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON —Opponents of the planned construction of the Village at Wolf Creek won a small victory earlier this week when the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado ruled that the U.S. Forest Service had not provided adequate justification for not releasing certain documents specified in a Freedom of Information Act request from Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc.

In February 2014, the nonprofit filed a FOIA request for “copies of all communications and records of communications between the Forest Service and outside entities relating to the Village at Wolf Creek Access Project.”

If approved, the controversial Village at Wolf Creek Access Project would pave the way for a Texas developer to build a resort near the Wolf Creek Ski Area northeast of Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Rio Grande Forest Service Supervisor Dan Dallas approved a land exchange in May that would trade more than 200 acres currently administered by the forest service for 177 acres of privately owned land within national forest boundaries.

Groups such as Rocky Mountain Wild maintain the exchange would negatively impact the ecosystem, especially the endangered lynx, which was reintroduced into the area..

Rocky Mountain Wild maintains that, though thousands of pages of documents were released in response to the FOIA request, the Forest Service withheld some that were within the scope of the request.

Both the nonprofit and the forest service filed cross-motions for summary judgments.

The court denied the Forest Service’s motion for a summary judgement and partially granted Rocky Mountain Wild’s motion, according to court documents.

The judge ruled that the Forest Service violated the FOIA, however the court denied the nonprofit’s motion to have the Forest service immediately release documents that were withheld.

The court gave the forest service until Oct. 30 to complete a search for additional documents that fall within the scope of Rocky Mountain Wild’s FOIA request.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.