Upgrades temporarily halted at Snowbowl
By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times, July
CHINLE – The supervisor of the
Coconino National forest has denied the Arizona Snowbowl’s
request to upgrade its ski school area pending a decision
by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the
ski area near Flagstaff can expand its area and make
snow using reclaimed wastewater.
“It’s a small victory,” declared Robert Tohe, environmental
justice coordinator for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon
In a letter to Sierra Club chapter director Sandy
Bahr, forest supervisor Nora B. Rasure said she received
letters not only from the Sierra Club but also from
the Yavapai-Apache Nation, the Pueblo of Acoma, and
the Hopi and Havasupai tribes opposing the upgrade.
All the tribes, in addition to the Navajo Nation,
consider the San Francisco Peaks sacred and oppose
any expansion of the ski area.
Rasure said she also talked with the ski area’s management
and local area residents who favor the upgrade before
making her decision.
“The Forest Service listened to the tribes,” said
Tohe, Diné. “That’s a good thing.”
The issue is far from dead, however, as the federal
appeals court has yet to issue its en blanc ruling.
A three-judge panel last year ruled in favor of the
13 tribes but the Snowbowl and Forest Service demanded
a ruling by all 11 judges.
How long will that take?
“That’s the million-dollar questi on,” Tohe said.
Snowbowl attorneys have said they will appeal the
case to the U.S. Supreme Court if they get an unfavorable
ruling, and the tribes “are also willing to go to
the matt on this one,” Tohe said.
Tohe said Rasure’s order, combined with a New Mexico
panel’s recent decision to temporarily declare Tsoodzil
(Mount Taylor) – another sacred mountain – a significant
cultural property, shows a shift in public perceptions
“The public really wants to hold onto these treasures
in the face of increasing development,” Tohe said.
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