For more than two decades, Texas businessman B.J. “Red” McCombs has pushed, pulled away and then pushed again for a village development on land he owns below the slopes of Wolf Creek Ski Area.

And now he’s back at it. The latest move in the battle among McCombs, environmentalists, the ski area owners and locals is a proposed land exchange between McCombs and the U.S. Forest Service that would, if accepted, give the feds ecologically sensitive wetlands, and the developer access from U.S. 160 to the land. McCombs’ land is surrounded completely by the Forest Service but must be allowed access under federal law if its use is appropriate.

An Oct. 25 site visit attracted more than 100 people, according to the Valley Courier in Alamosa, Colo. Rio Grande National Forest officials, who conducted the tour, explained the environmental impact process and tried to answer questions, the newspaper reported. The focus of the latest controversy is wetlands that must be crossed in order to give access to the development.

McCombs’ project, which once got as large as 2,200 units and 160,000 square feet of commercial space, now would have some 1,700-2,000 living units. Even if the land exchange is approved next spring, the developer’s representative, Clint Jones, was quoted in the Valley Courier saying that construction would be phased in as market forces permit.

The Pitcher family, who owns Wolf Creek, appear to have softened their opposition to the village plans by supporting the land exchange but will reserve final judgment until the environmental impact statement review and other permitting is completed next year, according to news reports.

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