In what a federal appeals court called “a gross abuse of the judicial process,” opponents to snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl lost yet another round recently.
The unanimous ruling from the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals further solidifies the northern Arizona resort’s plans to pipe reclaimed wastewater from the city of Flagstaff’s plant into the mountain’s snowmaking system. The plaintiffs, who included a number of Native American tribes, contend that the San Francisco Peaks where Snowbowl sits is a sacred site and that spraying artificial snow from recycled wastewater would desecrate the site.
However, the judges said that the suit against the U.S. Forest Service, which decided that no health hazard existed with snowmaking, was simply “new plaintiffs” for the same suit that failed to get a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009.
"We're thrilled on several counts, first of all with the decision, and we're also thrilled with how quickly the ninth Circuit ruled on the case. For any court of appeals to issue a decision in 30 days is really very quickly," Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky told The Arizona Sun.
The resort management has already run a pipeline up Snowbowl Road and cut new trails to accommodate the system. The remaining pipe is expected to arrive this spring for installation this summer, resort managers said.
One lawsuit remains alive in this four-year controversy. The Hopi Tribe has sued that city of Flagstaff over its decision to supply wastewater to Snowbowl. The Coconino District Court ruled against it, and it has been appealed in the state courts.
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