Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sierra Club: Federal court rules for tribes on snowmaking

Sierra Club

March 12, 2007 Robert Tohe 928-774-6103
Oliver Bernstein 512-289-8618

Federal Court Blocks Artificial Snowmaking at Resort near Sacred Lands
Sierra Club, Tribes Declare Justice Served with Groundbreaking Decision that Protects Peaks and People

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals delivered justice to the sacred San Francisco Peaks and the Southwest tribes that consider it sacred by stopping the development of the Arizona Snowbowl Resort and Coconino National Forest Service’s proposed artificial snowmaking plan.

Sierra Club, various tribes and other appellants argued successfully that using treated sewage to make artificial snow would violate the environmental justice of the tribal communities and would pollute the land, air and water.

“This is a national wake up call for those that will try to desecrate sacred mountains like the San Francisco Peaks,” said Robert Tohe, Environmental Justice Organizer for the Sierra Club in Flagstaff , Arizona . “We will not allow our voices to be ignored.”

The San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff , Arizona , are sacred to13 tribes, and are important spiritual and geographic boundaries.

“I am really thankful and deeply appreciate the 9th circuit court’s decision,” said Bucky Preston, one of the Hopi plaintiffs. “Some of the judges in the courts must have a good heart and looked deeply into themselves to realize that the Peaks are so sacred to us and they understood our beliefs.”

This overruling of a district court decision is one of the most important in recent years under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In addition to finding that the plan would have desecrated this sacred area, the court decided that the U.S. Forest Service failed to fully disclose the risks posed by human ingestion of artificial snow.

Read the full court decision at$file/0615371.pdf?openelement


Andy Bessler
Sierra Club's Environmental Partnership Program
P.O. Box 38
Flagstaff , AZ 86002
fax 774-6138
cell 928-380-7808

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