Something doesn’t seem right with the Holland Lake Lodge transfer
A photo of Holland Lake in Montana (Fhoto by the U.S. Forest Service via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).
Thank goodness the public has been digging deep and exposing the shadiness that is happening in regards to Holland Lake Lodge, which operates on public National Forest Land via a special-use permit.
The proponents of this project have already lied about: The presence of wildlife in the Holland Lake area; the actual acreage of the permitted area; and control/ownership of the business entity.
The fact is: There is wildlife including grizzlies, black bears, wolverines, lynx, bull trout, bats and loons that will surely be affected by the construction of a 13,000-square foot, 3,000 square-foot restaurant, 26 cabins and “bunkies,” additional outbuildings and employee housing, parking lots and floating docks.
Powdr can build as “sustainably” as possible, with dark sky initiatives, recycling, etc., but at the end of the day, the impact of this construction and of tripled, year-round occupancy will always be higher than if this proposal is denied. Not to mention the potential impacts on the water quality of small, pristine Holland Lake, with this new development being proposed so close to the shoreline and with much higher wastewater treatment needs.
The fact is: The existing permitted acreage is 10.53. Period. It’s right there at the top of the special-use permit. Powdr continues to advertise the existing acreage as 15 even after repeatedly being corrected. In actuality, with the additional wastewater treatment and septic needs, Powdr plans to grab closer to 20. How the Forest Service can claim they didn’t realize this “discrepancy” until the public called it to their attention is beyond comprehension.
The fact is: Powdr and former owner Christian Wohlfeil continue to dance around who controls the business entity, even though it is crystal clear that Powdr is now ultimately the one in charge. Wohlfeil is no longer a director or officer on Holland Lake Lodge’s business entity report, Holland Lake Lodge’s address was changed to Powdr’s legal department, and Powdr owns the Holland Lake Lodge liquor license. Not only that, Powdr has admitted in both the Master Development Plan (which was submitted with a Powdr representative as the primary contact) and in emails to the Forest Service that they will indeed be the future owners of the lodge and that Wohlfeil is now just an employee/shareholder. It doesn’t get any more obvious than that. There has been a change in control and the specific language of the special-use permit means the permit should automatically terminate as the permit is non-transferrable.
These facts are all very obvious, but what remains unclear is why the Forest Service continues attempting to ignore these facts to push this disastrous proposal forward.
Why did the Forest Service initially wanted to quickly and quietly ram this through with limited public notice and the use of a categorical exclusion? Why, in the face of 6,500+ public comments in just more than a month, with 99% opposed, is the Forest Service still making excuses and bending towards corporate interests?
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but here’s one more fact: The public will continue to fight to protect our public land and we will not back down.
Jennifer Nave is a 25+ year resident of Montana, an avid recreationist, and a proud proponent of public lands.
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