Viewpoints: 9th Circuit ruling on sacred site

Rob Smith: "Clean water and public lands for the common good were reaffirmed by the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision on the San Francisco Peaks.

These mountains are federal public land entrusted to the U.S. Forest Service to manage on our behalf. Arizona Snowbowl, a private for-profit company, holds a temporary permit to operate a ski area on this land we all own.

The Snowbowl had proposed using treated sewage water to spray on the slopes of the ski runs to make more snow, something that has never been done since the ski area opened in 1938. According to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, this wastewater can be used for watering golf courses, washing cars and flushing toilets, but it's not clean enough for direct human contact."

Eric Borowsky: "After a disappointing ruling on the upgrade proposal for Arizona Snowbowl, overturning a previous U.S. District Court decision allowing snowmaking and other improvements, I must comment on this outrageous and unjust decision.

Apparently, hypocrisy by the plaintiffs and Arizona water-use regulations are not factors that overly concern the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Neither does the fair application of law to all citizens under its jurisdiction.

The Snowbowl is tremendously important to the northern Arizona community's economy and culture and provides winter recreation for the entire state. The ski mountain generates hundreds of jobs and will have an annual economic impact of $24 million, if snowmaking is allowed."

Get the Story:
Rob Smith: Peaks ruling was good for Arizona from health, religious standpoint (The Arizona Republic 3/25)
Eric Borowsky: 9th U.S. Circuit protects the sanctity of a Native American creation story and delivers a blow to the Flagstaff economy (The Arizona Republic 3/25)

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 -
Coconino National Forest -

Related Stories:
Editorial: Court 'misguided' on sacred site case (3/21)
Hopi Tribe humbled by court victory on sacred site (3/15)
Letter: Hualapai Tribe hypocritical on sacred (3/15)
9th Circuit blocks snowmaking at sacred peaks (3/13)
9th Circuit blocks snowmaking at sacred peaks (3/13)
Ruling awaited on snowmaking in sacred peaks (02/01)
Confrontation over ceremony at sacred peaks (1/31)
Southwest tribes to continue fight for sacred site (11/14)
Tribes hopeful after court hears sacred site case (09/19)
9th Circuit hears from tribes in sacred site case (9/15)
Tribes press sacred site case before 9th Circuit (9/14)
9th Circuit to hear sacred site case on Thursday (9/13)
Southwest tribes go to court for sacred site (9/6)
Navajo Nation appeals court ruling on snowmaking (02/28)
Tribal coalition to appeal ruling on sacred peaks (1/13)
Judge allows snowmaking in sacred Arizona peaks (1/12)
Babbitt under fire for role in sacred site case (12/12)
Navajo president testifies in sacred site trial (11/03)
Trial over snowmaking in sacred peaks begins (10/24)
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Judge calls trial on snowmaking in sacred peaks (10/10)
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Bruce Babbitt fighting tribes on sacred site appeal (7/5)
Forest Service rejects tribal appeals on snowmaking (06/10)
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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)
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Hopi Tribe to protest against snowmaking plan (03/19)
Editorial: Ski area helped by snowmaking plan (02/20)
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Coalition protests snowmaking in sacred peaks (2/18)
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