On the Peaks… Arizona Department of Water Quality Invaded, July 16

Arizona Department of Water Quality Invaded, July 16

On Friday July 16, a group entered the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (AZDEQ) phoenix office building to deliver a message. Chanting “Save the Peaks” the group breezed through the main lobby and approached the main office. Once in the office the group made an announcement to the two secretaries at the desk. The group demanded that the AZDEQ use their role as a tentacle of the capitalist system to intervene with the Snowbowl companies’ further desecration of the San Francisco Peaks. The group held it down in the office for a while and then relocated back to the main lobby area chanting strewing caution tape about. As the echoes of the chants ricocheted off the cold walls of the AZDEQ building Everyone beside a lonely security guard and the group occupying the lobby the rest of the business building hackers scrambled upstairs, into elevators and their office waiting for the group to leave.

The group stretched out a banner that read “Danger” “Quarantine” “Snowbowl hazardous to public health”. Others mingled about the lobby clapping hands screaming chants and holding “Danger Health Threat” “Stop Snowbowl” signs.

After the intent of the groups visit had rung through the ears of everyone present they safely left the building with the rest of their day of resistance ahead of them.

The San Francisco Peaks stand vibrantly 5,000 ft. above the Colorado plateau north of Flagstaff in northern Arizona. The Peaks sit sacredly in the hearts of more than 13 indigenous tribes. The peaks are literally an intricate part of many of the tribes’ creation story. They are also home to more than 200 species of mammals and birds.

From the Save the Peaks Coalitions web page:

From many places in northern Arizona, the horizon is dramatically marked by three 12,000-foot volcanic peaks that rise out of the Colorado Plateau south of the Grand Canyon and north of Flagstaff. The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to 13 tribes. For the Navajo, the Peaks are the sacred mountain of the west, Doko’oo’sliid, “Shining On Top,” a key boundary marker and a place where medicine men collect herbs for healing ceremonies. To the Hopi, the Peaks are Nuvatukaovi, “The Place of Snow on the Very Top,” home for half of the year to the ancestral kachina spirits who live among the clouds around the summit. When properly honored through song and ceremony, the kachinas bring gentle rains to thirsty corn plants. The peaks are one of the “sacred places where the Earth brushes up against the unseen world,” in the words of Yavapai-Apache Chairman Vincent Randall.

About Snowbowl the company

also from the Save the Peaks Coalitions webpage

Arizona Snowbowl Resort Limited Partnership (ASR) is a privately owned entity that holds a special use permit (SUP) to operate a ski area on federal land located on the San Francisco Peaks. The San Francisco Peaks are environmentally sensitive. The Peaks, including the SUP area, are also “extensively documented and widely recognized as a place of extreme cultural importance” to the tribes.

Due to, in large part, inconsistent snowfall and limited demand, the Snowbowl ski area has been experiencing financial difficulties. To help provide ASR with a “consistent/reliable operating season,” the Forest Service (FS) agreed to allow ASR to expand the ski area and to introduce snowmaking using non-potable treated sewage effluent. Thousands opposed the project and challenged the adequacy of the FS review, consultation, and approval processes throughout the administrative process. After being rebuffed in the administrative process, a coalition of tribes and environmental groups filed suit challenging FS actions under, in part, NEPA, NFMA, and the NHPA. Plaintiff Tribes also asserted violations of the government’s trust responsibility to the tribes, and a violation of RFRA.

The issue at hand is not merely the usage of reclaimed sewage water or not. They are the part of the notion that no part of this “resort” should exist. Every discretional piece of this resort is a visual representation of colonialisms continuous sprawling of endless cultural genocide. The future of the Peaks are very at risk for as long as Snowbowl exists.

What does the state have to say about the desecration of the peaks?

The US forest service recognizes that there will be an adverse affect on native American religious beliefs but because of “other benefits” of the lodge The US forest service finds it a substantial and compelling reason for continuance and improvement of the [Snowbowl] development area.

After considering all affects the US forest service prefers development because legal requirements have been met. Public sentiment favors development the environmental affects can be mitigated, it benefits local economy and is consistent with forest services plans and policies.

What does “development look like in this situation? Here are a few of the lowest points:

–   Develop approximately 1,110 ft of additional on-mountain access road

–    74 acres “clear-cut” for new trails

–     “Approximately 87 acres” are proposed to be “stripped of topsoil resources, reshaped and contoured”, “rocks and stumps protruding from the surface would be pushed into concentration areas and buried or hauled off site”

–    47 acres of “tree thinning”

–     14.8 miles of buried pipeline to transport wastewater from Flagstaff to Snowbowl

The full details of expansion can be found here: Elements of expansion

What is the status of this “development”? The conclusion of a recent August 5 article from the Arizona Republic titled Snowbowl pipe plan moves ahead can add much insight to that:

…. resort owner Eric Borowsky said that he will begin construction on new ski runs within the next few weeks….

More information on Saving the peaks can be found at:

Save The Peaks Coalition


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