Editorial: Judge's decision on sacred site was right

"Near the end of a thoughtful, 62-page decision [PDF] affirming the right of a ski area near Flagstaff to use reclaimed water to make snow is an observation that underscores the U.S. Forest Service's sensitivity to Native American beliefs.

In authorizing snowmaking equipment at Arizona Snowbowl, a federal judge wrote, "the Forest Service reached a decision that enables the . . . Snowbowl improvements to be carried out in a manner that is designed to minimize adverse impacts, including impacts to the tribes' culture and religion."

But that isn't how the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and environmental critics see it. They plan to appeal the decision and seek an injunction to stop construction of a water pipeline and snowmaking equipment.

They also will try to persuade Flagstaff to withdraw from an agreement to sell reclaimed water to the Snowbowl.

It will be an uphill battle. In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of the Snowbowl to exist and found that the tribes' exercise of religion was not substantially burdened.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Snowbowl ruling sensible (The Arizona Republic 1/17)

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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