Navajo People Protest Arizona Snowbowl's Use of Wastewater For Snowmaking On Sacred Mountain

Navajo People Protest Arizona Snowbowl's Use of Wastewater For Snowmaking On Sacred Mountain

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Navajo People Protest Arizona Snowbowl's Use of Wastewater For Snowmaking On Sacred Mountain

Image By: Klee Benally

An investment into more snow making infrastructure at Arizona Snowbowl ski resort has not gone unnoticed. The largest ski resort in Arizona is becoming more and more reliant on snow making to consistently operate each winter season and the use of reclaimed wastewater to produce artificial snow does not bode well with the Navajo people and other local tribes, who consider the San Francisco mountain peaks a sacred site.

However, given the tentative snow conditions in Northern Arizona, it would be impossible for Snowbowl to remain open without the use of snow making equipment.

With no water available in the San Francisco peaks, the snow making system at Snowbowl utilizes treated water pumped up to the ski hill from a sewage treatment plant. To local tribes this is an outrage, blasting a holy mountain with filthy water, simply for the purpose of recreation.

The land on which Snowbowl operates is a private concession on U.S. Forest Service land. The area is regarded by Navajo People as one of the four most sacred locations on Earth.

Ever since Snowbowl first fired up it’s snow making equipment in the late 1990’s, local tribes have been taking legal action against the resort. The first  legal battle lasted 5-years in which the opposition eventually lost.

On the ski resort’s opening day, skiers and riders were meet by protesters who want to see an end to snow making in the San Francisco peaks.

Another chapter of the legal battle began in February 2018, when the Hopi tribe successfully re-ignited the effort to end snow making in an Arizona appeals court. Previously a lower court had ruled that the tribe could not show a specific injury, which is required to make a public-nuisance claim.

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