Vail, CO, July 27-Yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers closed a primary access road to Vail's Category III Expansion area, citing a violation of the Clean Water Act. The Corps discovered two clusters of wetlands on Lime Creek Road--the temporary logging road built to access and remove timber from Category III.
The US Forest Service decided to close the road temporarily after a hydrologist told district ranger, Bill Wood, that Vail did not have a permit to impact the wetlands.
"We will not allow any logs to pass over the road until the problem is solved," stated Betty Schmitt, Public Affairs Director for the White River National Forest. "We don't want any environmental damage."
Ironically, sources at Vail say that they realigned the road from the plan outlined in their environmental impact statement to avoid one wetland, and inadvertently ran into another.
Environmental groups who have opposed the expansion see the road closure as a small victory. "I don't think the road will be closed for good," stated Jeff Berman of Colorado Wild. "But it doesn't matter, the damage has been done."
So far, research teams from Vail Mountain Development, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Forest Service, and Colorado Division of Wildlife plan to visit the site this Thursday, July 29, to analyze the damage and discuss the future of the road.
"We Vail Associates hope the meeting on Thursday tells us what we have to do to remedy the situation," said Vail spokesman Porter Warton III. "We are working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Forest Service to assess and fix this problem, but as of now, we don't know if it will impact our construction timeline."
Currently, the road closure prevents Vail from removing timber and getting large construction vehicles to the area. However, they are moving forward with the clear cutting of trees.