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Environment
U.S. argues against protecting sacred peaks in Arizona


Ed. Note: Janice Schneider is referred to as a government attorney by The Arizona Republic. But The Arizona Daily Sun describes her as former government attorney who is now helping the U.S. Forest Service.

The Bush administration argued against the protection of the sacred San Francisco Peaks at a federal court hearing on Thursday.

The U.S. Forest Service approved the expansion of the Snowbowl ski area in Coconino National Forest. Tribes filed an appeal because the plan would allow the ski area to use reclaimed wastewater in a sacred place.

Janice Schneider, an attorney representing the Forest Service, argued that the expansion is needed to keep the Snowbowl open. She also said tribes can't force their religious views on others.

"It would also represent the imperatives of religious servitude over an entire community," she said, The Arizona Republic reported.

Schneider also said there are "many, many other places" within the peaks where tribal members could practice their religion, The Arizona Daily Sun reported. The assertion was challenged by the judge, the paper said.

"Surely you're not suggesting the plaintiffs use another mountain," U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt was quoted as saying.

The hearing continues today. A full trial is likely once Rosenblatt dispense with a summary judgment motion.

Get the Story:
Tribes criticize Forest Service during hearing on snowmaking (The Arizona Republic 10/7)
Snowbowl development case to hinge on religious rights (The Arizona Daily Sun 10/7)

Approval Documents:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for Arizona Snowbowl Facilities Improvement | Forest Service Approves Snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl

Relevant Links:
Coconino National Forest - http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/index.shtml

Related Stories:
Hopi Chair: Ski area plan will destroy our culture (09/23)
Hopi Tribe joins lawsuit over snowmaking in peaks (07/08)
Bruce Babbitt fighting tribes on sacred site appeal (7/5)
Forest Service rejects tribal appeals on snowmaking (06/10)
Tribes await appeal on snowmaking plan (6/7)
Appeals filed to snowmaking plan in sacred peaks (04/26)
Navajo Nation considers appeal of snowmaking plan (03/15)
Editorial: Sacred peaks don't belong to tribes alone (3/14)
Tribes blast OK of snowmaking plan in sacred peaks (3/9)
Deadline nears on snowmaking in sacred peaks plan (04/09)
Hopi Tribe to protest against snowmaking plan (03/19)
Editorial: Ski area helped by snowmaking plan (02/20)
Navajo Nation not planning boycott for sacred site (2/20)
Coalition protests snowmaking in sacred peaks (2/18)
Tribes to fight snowmaking in sacred Ariz. peaks (02/03)
Forest Service delays report on ski area expansion (12/02)
Hopi Tribe opposing snowmaking in sacred peaks (11/20)
Ski area on sacred mountain expanding (10/15)