Upgrades temporarily halted at Snowbowl

By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times, July 10, 2008

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 Chapter.

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 of land.

“The public really wants to hold onto these treasures in the face of increasing development,” Tohe said.



Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html