Sacred Peaks Spared Sewage
On March 13 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a proposal by the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Snowbowl ski area to make artificial snow using reclaimed sewage water from nearby Flagstaff. The plan was challenged in court by the Sierra Club and six Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation. The court ruled that the plan would violate the sanctity of the San Francisco Peaks, held holy by numerous tribes, and cited potential health hazards from ingesting "reclaimed" snow, which the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality calls unsuitable for human contact. "This is a national wake-up call for those that try to desecrate sacred mountains like the San Francisco Peaks," Sierra Club organizer Robert Tohe, a Navajo, told the New York Times. Tohe, pictured above at a press conference with the Peaks as a backdrop, characterizes the court ruling as a victory for public health and religious freedom. The Club's Grand Canyon Chapter and Native American Environmental Justice program have worked for years on behalf of water quality and in support of Native people who hold the Peaks sacred. Read more here.