U.S. Water News Online
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Construction of new trails and
snowmaking facilities at a ski area in the San Francisco Peaks will
not begin until at least October.
Environmental groups that have sued over the planned construction
have agreed to speed up their case in return for a promise from
operators of the Arizona Snowbowl and federal officials to hold off
on the work while the case is court.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt persuaded the parties to
make the agreement after arguments over whether the judge should
grant an injunction.
"We are pleased the court has agreed to schedule this trial in
October," said J.R. Murray, general manager of the Arizona Snowbowl.
"We look forward to getting this litigation behind us."
The Arizona Snowbowl had won approval earlier this year from
federal forest officials to add runs and new buildings to the popular
ski area. The ski business also was approved to install snowmaking
equipment that will use reclaimed wastewater.
The ski area has long struggled with short ski seasons because of
lack of snow and unpredictable weather. If it is allowed to make snow
starting next winter, it would likely mean steadier business.
Six tribes, two individuals, two environmental groups and the
Flagstaff Activist Network are suing the U.S. Forest Service for its
decision to allow Snowbowl to make snow with reclaimed wastewater,
saying it violates the sanctity of the mountains and might be
"We still have to talk about the merits of our case and part of it
is the need to continue to recognize all those things that the Forest
Service didn't do," Sierra Club environmental justice coordinator
Robert Tohe said.
Tohe has argued the Forest Service didn't properly consult every
tribe before making its decision and that the move is illegal because
it violates religious freedoms. Several Indian tribes consider the
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