Friday, February 26, 2010

Letter to the Durango Herald ~ NO Village at Wolf Creek development !

{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}

Dear Editor,
Wednesday February 17 Congressman Salazar held an informative VWC panel discussion with representatives from government, business, environmental groups including Mr. McCombs and Mr. Jones the developer.

Mr. McCombs the ever optimistic salesman spoke of a first class luxury resort and all the jobs it would bring the local economy.

Questioning the Soundness of "Red's" Plan

The following is a letter to the Durango Telegraph sharing further thoughts on why the dreams of developing Alberta Park at Wolf Creek Pass or its immediate surroundings should be canceled.

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February 17 Congressman Salazar held an informative VWC panel discussion with representatives from government, business, environmental groups, Mr. McCombs and Mr. Jones the developer. The Congressman’s goal was to get all the stakeholders together and find a path toward consensus so that the Village at Wolf Creek project could finally move forward.

VWC at 10'000 feet & altitude sickness

One of the VWC's ignored issues is the medical situation.
This parcel is higher than any other US overnight resort. At 10,000’ our lungs absorb a third the oxygen as at sea level. This alone creates a raft of potential medical, marketing, even ethical, perhaps legal liability questions since medical experts advise against lowlanders spending nights at that extreme altitude.

links to informative sites:

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Altitude Illness

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Peter H. Hackett, David R. Shlim


The stresses of the high-altitude environment include cold, low humidity, increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and decreased air pressure, all of which can cause problems for travelers. The greatest concern, however, is hypoxia. At 10,000 ft (3,000 m), for example, the inspired PO2 is only 69% of sea-level value. The degree of hypoxic stress depends upon altitude, rate of ascent, and duration of exposure. Sleeping at high altitude produces the greatest hypoxia; day trips to high altitude with return to low altitude are much less stressful on the body.


The human body adjusts very well to moderate hypoxia, but requires time to do so (Box 2-3). The process of acute acclimatization to high altitude takes 3–5 days; therefore, acclimatizing for a few days at 8,000–9,000 ft before proceeding to higher altitude is ideal. Acclimatization prevents altitude illness, improves sleep, and increases comfort and well-being, although exercise performance will always be reduced compared with low altitude. Increase in ventilation is the most important factor in acute acclimatization; therefore, respiratory depressants must be avoided. Increased red-cell production does not play a role in acute acclimatization.

Risk for Travelers

Inadequate acclimatization may lead to altitude illness in any traveler going to 8,000 ft (2,500 m) or higher. Susceptibility and resistance to altitude illness are genetic traits, and no screening tests are available to predict risk. Risk is not affected by training or physical fitness. Children are equally susceptible as adults; persons >50 years of age have slightly lower risk. How a traveler has responded to high altitude previously is the most reliable guide for future trips but is not infallible. However, given certain baseline susceptibility, risk is greatly influenced by rate of ascent and exertion.

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International Society for Mountain Medicine

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The Institute For Altitude Medicine in Telluride

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High Altitude Medicine Guide

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Outdoor Action Guide to
 High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses

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Merck online Manuel

Luxury Resorts going Bust

A project like "Red" McCombs' Village at Wolf Creek would be a gamble in the best of times. Considering, today's business climate with it's spare future outlook, this Village at Wolf Creek seems like the height of folly.

There is good reason for pessimism and caution!
Below is a list of troubled resorts, each name is linked to a news source:

Hudson Valley Resort & Spa, New York

East West Resort Development, Lake Tahoe, NV

Anguilla Resort, Caribbean

Los Abrigados Resort & Spa - Diamond Resorts, Sedona, AZ

Daufuskie Island Resort & Breathe Spa, South Carolina

Dellis Cay development, Caribbean

Tierra Del Sol Resort, Florida

Rivers Inlet Resort, British Columbia

Point Breeze Hotel, Nantucket Island

Tamarack Resort, Valley County, Idaho

Hunt Resort, Fitzroy Island, Great Barrier Reef

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc, all over

Yellowstone Club, Montana

La Manga Club, southern Spain

Rancho Manana, Cave Creek, AZ

The Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, NY

Transmontagne, Alps, Switzerland

Extended Stay Hotels, USA

W Hotel , San Diago, CA

Dubai's Istithmar World & 42nd Street at Broadway, NY, NY

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Distressed CRE Assets Jump 15% at Nation's Banks
The amount of distressed commercial real estate assets on the books of the nation's banks and thrifts approached $60 billion as of year-end 2009. That is up from $52 billion just three months earlier, a 15% increase. The $59.9 billion includes loans...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Village at Wolf Creek ~ A Who's Who of Who to Contact

The developer himself:
Mr. Clint Jones

12117 Bee Cave Road, Suite 240
Austin, Texas 78738


Mineral County Commissioners

Jim Adelman, Chuck Fairchild, Karl Kolisch

Rio Grande County Commissioners

Doug Davie, Robert Hagedorn, Dennis Murphy

Archuleta County Commissioner – District 1

John Ranson
Archuleta County Commissioner – District 2

Clifford Lucero
Archuleta County Commissioner – District 3

Robert Moomaw

Town of Pagosa Springs

Ross Aragon, Mayor

Darrel Cotton, Council Member
Stan Holt, Council Member
Jerry Jackson, Council Member
Shari Pierce, Council Member

Don Volger, Council Member

Mark Weiler, Council Member

U.S. Representative John Salazar

326 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515


Aide to Congressman Salazar:
John Whitney

U.S. Senator Mark Udall

Hart Office Building 
Suite SH-317

Washington, D.C. 20510

Aide to Senator Udall:

Wanda Cason

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet

702 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Aide to Senator Bennet:

Charlotte Bobicki

Congressman Salazar question the VWC proposal

The VWC & Alberta Park Dilemma
Open letter to
Congressman Salazar’s VWC Discussion Panel on future approaches to the proposed development of the Alberta Park area.
Adam State College 2-17-10
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{Thank you for the image of Alberta Park}

Honorable Congressman Salazar and panel members,
I respectfully submit the following list of issues & questions deserving to be addressed.
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It must be noted this parcel of land was originally set aside, within the protective fold of the Rio Grande National Forest, for the benefit of all Americans by Theodore Roosevelt in 1911. Then, on February 20, 1986, in a back room of the US Department of Agriculture, a Washington DC insider countermanded the Rio Grande National Forest’s land exchange process which had rejected Mr. McCombs’ lopsided land swap proposal.

> In essence this parcel was victim to an illegitimate hostile take over.
The People do have the right to hope for its return to the American land trust.

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Beyond that, there’s the actual biological productivity of that land to consider.
Alberta Park is a “keystone parcel” within an integral carpet of land that is the Wolf Creek watershed, source waters to the interstate, international Rio Grande River.

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Wildlife corridors and living space for a large variety of animals.
The pristine fens area is biologically productive on a grand scale.
The area is a massive water filter, purifier and reservoir.
Simply leaving it as it stands has multiple economic benefits.
> This aspect gets downplayed yet deserves to reign center stage.

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Plow a development into the middle of it and that sweet water will turn into reused gray water and the wildlife sanctuary, fens, watershed will suffer cascading losses.
> Given current global trends, clean water resources are among our most precious commodities... isn’t protecting this unique resource an imperative concern ?

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Why complicate local life with the legal Water Rights court battles that will ensue any actual diversion of massive amounts of water shares into that speculative village?

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Question the project’s realism:

Considering current financial world realities - where will the people come from for this luxury get-away at 10,000'? Or put another way...
How does one justify such 1990s developer dreams in the face of the obviously leaner, meaner 2010s we are heading into?

Wishing the good old days back doesn’t justify gambling away this world class
pristine irreplaceable watershed resource for a questionable, nay, doomed pipedream.

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The public health challenge:
In particular the health risks associated with lowlanders sleeping at 10,000’ elevation.
Who will deal with the Altitude Sickness of varying degrees that will become chronic health incidents for residents at that altitude?
Will prospective buyers be forewarned of the health risk?
How many actual buyers would, in the end, opt for healthier accommodations at lower elevations?
After all, at 10,000’ our lungs absorb a third less oxygen than near sea level.

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Who will be responsible for developing and financing an Emergence Medical System and medical clinic?
Will the VWC medical clinic include a High Altitude Health Research Station, considering the pioneering 10,000’ elevation of these overnight accommodations?

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Then, there’s Police protection to consider, plan, finance, develop.
Who will be responsible for that?

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Then, there’s Fire protection to consider, plan, finance, develop.
Who will be responsible for that?

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Then, there’s snow clearing and street maintenance to consider, plan, finance, develop. (see Larry Calloway's article "VWC, Salesmanship Trumps Meteorology" )
Who will be responsible for that?

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How much thought has gone into developing the sewage treatment plant for this high altitude environment that experiences freezing temperatures eight months of the year?
(Plus intense solar radiation... plus microbial efficiency is temperature dependent.) VWC will present unique water treatment engineering challenges and include inevitable breakdowns and high operating costs. Who’s paying for it?

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The list goes on, electrical distribution, LP gas, phones, IT . . .
Who will be financially responsible for ensuring all this necessary infrastructure?

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A business venture is about high return on an investment.
To think the above can be accomplished within the budget of a speculative VWC for-profit business plan seems fantastical.
The VWC as presented is impossible without massive outside support... and that will turn out to be governmental support... tax payer support. But, our governments are already stretched to bursting with obligations, why are we considering creating yet more? And for what? A destructive white elephant in the making.

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Honorable Congressman Salazar,
American’s have a right, if not duty, to attempt wrestling McCombs’ Albert Park speculative development parcel (although I would call it a priceless biological gem), back into the protective fold of the Rio Grande National Forest, America’s land trust.
Congressman Salazar will you do your part?

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Mr. McCombs & family, Why not return it?
“The B.J. Red McCombs Sweet Water Biological Preserve”
~ dedicated to all down stream children yet to be born ~