Tribes welcome court decision on San Francisco Peaks
The Navajo Nation and other tribes welcomed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to protect the sacred San Francisco Peaks.

Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. said the ruling set precedent on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He said it gives tribes recourse under the law to protect their sites from federal government action.

More than a dozen tribes consider the Peaks to be sacred. They are used to pray, gather medicine and are the home of spiritual beings.

The tribes said the use of reclaimed wastewater would desecrate the Peaks. The U.S. Forest Service had approved the use of treated sewage to allow a ski area to make snow.

The 9th Circuit ruled that the agency violating the RFRA and failed to show a "compelling interest" in allowing the use of treated sewage. The court also said the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider the human impact of ingesting the snow.

Get the Story:
Court backs tribes on Peaks (The Gallup Independent 3/13)

Court Decision:
Navajo Nation v. US Forest Service (March 12, 2007)

Listen to Oral Arguments:
Navajo Nation v. Forest Service (September 14, 2006)

Appeals Court Documents:
Opening Brief [Word DOC] | Reply Brief [Word DOC]

Lower Court Decision:
Navajo Nation v. US Forest Service (January 11, 2006)

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

Relevant Links:
Save the Peaks Coalition - http://www.savethepeaks.org
Coconino National Forest - http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/index.shtml

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