Arizona Snowbowl officials and lawyers keep going to court and, at least for the time being, keep winning.
The latest victory came as a federal judge in Arizona refused to halt plans for snowmaking at the resort in the San Francisco Peaks, a battle that has gone on since the early years of the decade. Snowbowl officials say they will begin construction this spring.
The ruling is another blow to Native American tribes, who consider the volcanic mountain range sacred, and environmental groups, who say the U.S. Forest Service did not consider the impact of wastewater-based snow on health, especially children who use the peaks' popular snow-play area.
An appeal of U.S. District Judge Mary Murguia's original decision that the Forest Service performed its due diligence during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process remains in process in the 9th Circuit Court. The judge's latest ruling permits planning and work on a 15-mile pipeline and infrastructure to continue until the appeal is resolved.
The northern Arizona ski and snowboarding resort has, for the past 10 years, fought to bring artificial snow to its 777 acres of terrain. The resort ownership appeared last fall to have cemented a partnership with the city of Flagstaff to purchase treated waste water and pump it to the mountain.
The proposal didn't get off the ground in time for the 2010-2011 season, and Arizona Snowbowl had to delay its opening because of a lack of natural snowfall. Recent storms have brought relief to the mountain's 32 runs.
In a related matter, the Hopi Tribe has announced it will sue the city of Flagstaff over the city council's decision to sell treated waste water to Arizona Snowbowl. The tribe asserts that snowmaking will adversely affect the flora and fauna of the San Francisco Peaks, including endangered species, and will cause a public "nuisance." The tribe states that the sale of waste water would harm the tribe's rights to ground water and the public health.