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Polish students staff Four Seasons hotel

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Cozy relationship alleged

WOLF CREEK PASS, Colo. — For several years now, opponents of a giant new real estate development next to the Wolf Creek ski area have accused the developer of improper influence peddling. They now have filed an additional accusation.

Colorado Wild, the ski area watchdog group, says that correspondence now made public shows that an attorney for developer, Red McCombs, drafted a letter that the U.S. Forest Service eventually sent to the attorney’s client. A Colorado Wild representative told The Associated Press that the correspondence confirms that the Forest Service is rubber-stamping decisions for McCombs.

Bob Honts, the lead executive for McCombs on the project, denied the accusation. However, a spokesman for a Colorado congressman, Mark Udall, seemed to think the allegation is at least troubling. "It’s highly unusual for a federal agency to use letters that are ghostwritten by a lobbyist that benefits the client the lobbyist represents," said Lawrence Pacheco, the spokesman.

The practical implication of the letter was not reported.

The ski area currently has no housing or even temporary lodging, which is located at a base area of 10,300 feet on one of Colorado’s snowiest passes. McCombs wants to build housing that could ultimately house up to 10,500 people. He already has approval from county authorities, but must also get permission to cross U.S. Forest Service land. Owners of the ski area, while supporting a much smaller development many years ago, are trying to block the project.

Working under lights

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — It’s still just September and already construction workers are toiling under the lights in ski towns of the West. At Breckenridge, that night work extended to the ski mountain, where equipment failures have forced overtime work on a new lift that is being built. The lift is to go to 12,825 feet, the highest lift terminal in North America.

Wolves, bears killed in Banff

BANFF, Alberta — The Banff area not only has major migration corridors for wildlife, but also a transcontinental highway and railroad. Despite ambitious efforts to accommodate the wildlife that are often cited as the most advanced in North America, wildlife have been big losers this year.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that now three grizzly bears and two wolves have been killed by either trains, trucks, or cars this year. This leaves the local wolf pack perilously small. Meanwhile the grizzly population is also considered threatened. Further efforts to reinforce already extensive fences, to prevent the animals from digging below them, are being discussed.

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