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March 13, 2007

To the Editor - Snowbowl Edition

I have submitted the following letter to the editor:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took an interesting position on Arizona Snowbowl by ruling that snowmaking on a “sacred mountain” violated the religious freedom of the Hopi tribes. That stands in stark contrast to a decision by the same Court of Appeals regarding the Pledge of Allegiance in 2002 in which they stated:

“The Pledge, as currently codified, is an impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'”

It is an odd that the very practice of saying the Pledge of Allegiance must be struck down, yet we need to stop snowmaking so that we can “protect” the religious freedom of the Hopi tribe. That we must in effect strip the rightful and lawful users of public land of their business that was approved by the appropriate governmental agencies in order to protect the needs of a very small minority of people that claim this site as the birthplace of mankind. In the case of Snowbowl, the courts went one step further and compared making snow using wastewater to using wastewater in Christian baptisms.

Our country is now held hostage by a court system that decides which religions merit protection and which religious institutions have rights. The government now decides which religions it recognizes and which it does not. This runs completely contrary to the purpose of the First Amendment. And now this new First Amendment standard is being applied to effectively strip private business owners of their ability to hold property and expand their business.

While many people disagree on whether snowmaking is good for the environment or whether Arizona Snowbowl is good for Flagstaff, there can be no question that these decisions should be made by elected officials and Forest Service experts, not by unelected and often unresponsive courts. No one religion should have the power to take away the belongings and viability of a business from its owners or our citizens. We should all be free to practice our beliefs, but when my right to religious freedom means stripping someone of their right to “Life, Liberty, and Property” by force of an unelected court system, we step increasingly toward tyranny.

Justin Blackburn
Owner – www.ski-blog.com
Goodyear, Arizona

This is an attack on personal liberty, property rights, and the First Amendment. The 9th Circuit has made a decision on the validity of the Hopi religion as being more important than property rights of Arizona Snowbowl. This very decision is "impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'" I am not Hopi, but this decision takes a government position on the validity of the Hopi faith and makes them favored members of the political community.

The original opinion by the District Court in Arizona stated the following:

Pursuant to RFRA, the Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief that would: (1) declare that the selected alternative, as approved, violated RFRA; and (2) stop the Forest Service and ASR from taking steps in furtherance of the selected alternative. According to the Plaintiffs, the proposed upgrades to the Snowbowl, particularly the use of reclaimed water to make snow, will have negative, irreversible, and devastating effects to their religious, traditional and cultural practices. However, the Defendants and ASR assert that since there is no evidence that the decision will exclude tribal practitioners from the Peaks, no evidence of any diminution of access, no inability to collect medicinal or ceremonial plants and other materials, and no prohibition on holding religious ceremonies anywhere on the Peaks, there is, consequently, no substantial burden on the exercise of the Plaintiffs' religion.

And later added:

In 1979, the Forest Service conducted an extensive process pursuant to the EPA to evaluate proposed upgrades to the Snowbowl, which included the installation of new lifts, trails and facilities. The 1979 Forest Service decision approved 206 acres of skiable terrain and facilities to support a comfortable carrying capacity of 2,825 skiers.

The Forest Service's 1979 decision to approve the Snowbowl upgrades was challenged in the courts by several Indian tribes.

In Wilson v. Block, 708 F.2d 735 (D.C. Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 956 (1983), the Court upheld the Forest Service's decision and found that the project did not substantially burden the tribes' exercise of religion. In addition, the Court upheld the more general question of whether to permit skiing in the area. Since the Wilson decision, the tribes have continued to use the Peaks for religious purposes.

Again, ask yourself how the 9th Circuit ruling is consistent with 1979's Wilson case in which Snowbowl won this battle once already.

Posted by Justin at March 13, 2007 12:38 PM

Comments

You are confusing some things here about the decision.

The Pledge of Allegiance is not a spiritual practice, it is Patriotic Oath.

You've also confused the property rights issue. WasteWater snowmaking involved a long pipelong across lands that are not owned by Snowbowl. Snowbowl was not stripped of it's property rights -- they have just been blocked from doing something that would impact nearby property they do not own.

You also do not understand the difference between freedom and tyranny. The true tyranny in this case was the elected officials forcing something upon a minority and not taking into account their Religious beliefs. Freedom means that all voices should be heard, not just the affluent or the majority.

The courts did their job and listened, something the elected leaders did not do because of their greed.

Most Arizonans aren't true skiers, the typical reaction to wastewater snowmaking by many skiers is "EEEEWWWWW". It'd be a shame if Arizona's motto became "The Ski On Pee State."

Posted by: Anonymous at March 17, 2007 03:46 PM

I quoted from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but I will do it again:

“The Pledge, as currently codified, is an impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'”

First, you come on my site and don't publish a name or e-mail address then you say this:

The true tyranny in this case was the elected officials forcing something upon a minority and not taking into account their Religious beliefs.

Read the freakin' Constitution. Let's try the Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Nothing was forced on anyone. Snowmaking on the peaks is not about the pipeline and easements made to get the water there. It is about the 1979 case in which the Hopis argued unsuccessfully that skiing at all on the peaks impacts their religion and about the decision that granted the Forest Service and proper authorities the right to make decisions about Federal Land.

Minorities do not have "rights" to tell people what they can and can't do with property to which they either own or have rights to. This is not about religious freedom at all, but rather about the minority imposing their will on the Forest Service and Snowbowl via the courts.

I might add that Sunrise uses water of a lower quality than what Snowbowl proposed and no one says "EWWW". If you are going to post on my site, don't drop by and post anonymously. I publish under my name, so have the class to stand behind your words like I do.

Posted by: Justin at March 18, 2007 01:27 AM

I am truly saddened by the messages written by Justin, the facilitator of this so called ski-blog. The fact that such racism can be freely exchanged in this manner is so indicative of the institutionalized racism of American society. Unfortunately those that bask in the privledge to ski that can't see how privledged we are to connect with the snow and mountains in this way, when so many other social ills are rampant in many peoples day-to-day lives, are missing the soul of this sport.

Recreation to some, a way of life for some folks like myself, I sincerely hope you can stop and check yourself Justin, at some point, and look to the history of Native Americans, how this country was founded, and what this case truly represents in the grand scheme of things.

Closer skiing for you, and something you can not understand to Native people with a brutalized histroy.

So get off your privledged, racist ass, and drive to so.colorado and get some in telluride, Wolf Creek, or Silverton if you can hang....or just go somewhere else, cause you have the privledge to get up and travel to snowbowl, sunrise, so. colorado, and anywhere else you want to go, while these Peaks have been there since the beginning of all time for these people.

Its just about respect bro...how you gonna get rikter when you have some much hate in your words and you're supposed to be talking about skiing man....wewww....happy turns to all and I hope respect can be shared somehow...and please let us know if you are a gaping 20 day a year skier or get at least 180 days a year...come on at least to speak like you do...I hope

Posted by: Skibummin at March 19, 2007 03:39 PM

I realize you won't print this blog cause you have the control...but I hope you take these words as a triple over head face shot of pow that has control of us all...and just show a little respect bro...you have no idea what these people have gone through and still are because of the past...respect, pow, respect, it come back around...

Posted by: skibummin at March 19, 2007 03:42 PM

First, calling me a racist and saying just drive to Colorado ain't the answer.

If you want to start giving history lessons on Native Americans, their history is no worse than blacks. And they are not a monolithic entity at all. Some tribes were treated far differently than others. So I am not ready to judge the Navajo or Hopi experience simply based on what happened in 1725 in Pennsylvania. Nor am I going to base it on what happened to the plains Indians when the Buffalo were killed off.

I am not here to make judgments about the validity of any religion, nor on the historical aspects of the Native American experience. Simply to comment on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stop skiing simply because a small group of Native Americans with a huge amount of funding from the Sierra Club and the other Arizona Resort owner (Sunrise and the WMA Tribe) have injected tons of money and used an obscure religion to stop snowmaking at Snowbowl.

This has much broader implications on the entire ski industry in that the court bought the argument that making snow with reclaimed water was somehow bad for the environment, and almost every resort in the US uses water of a lesser quality than Snowbowl. So this sets the stage for the Sierra Club and others to sue resorts every time they want to expand.

That is what this is about. It is about the Sierra Club and others wanting to stop skiing. Keep mountains pristine. They don't want lifts or snowmaking or trees cut down. A member of the WMA tribe (the owners of Sunrise) set half a million acres on fire to create some firefighter jobs back in 2002. The Sierra Club's policies to keep forests pristine contributed to that. And in the end, I am a racist for watching the Sierra Club fund lawsuits to shut down skiing. That is who is behind this and they used the Hopis as a tool to do it. The Hopis are little more than a pawn and their religion is completely dismissed by their "allies" that got this decision. And these same allies hate all skiing and are the folks that are behind Colorado Wild, the Earth Liberation Front, and others that set fire to Vail Resorts in 1998.

It is an assault on the sport and I recognize it. They use religion to do it. They use the quality of water to do it. They use obscure animals or any other thing that they can because they don't want us there. Not just at Snowbowl, but everywhere. This is not about the Native American Experience in the Old West, but about the Sierra Club's goals to stop ski expansion.

Posted by: Justin at March 19, 2007 04:19 PM

I hope skiers can see this bro has not brought any soul into his idea skiing, ...its a sport, that's it huh? the sport you love, wow, now how many others can claim that? I mean your privledge is so illuminating...and I'm not calling you a racist, look at the words you express to your viewers in the name of skiing:
" you want to start giving history lessons on Native Americans, their history is no worse than blacks (or the Irish, Italians, Jews, Latino, Asian, and other immigrants to this country, which is all of us minus Native Americans). And they are not a monolithic entity at all (or course, to be treated with liberty and justice for all, right?). Some tribes were treated far differently than others (WHY? Because some had more resources than others?). So I am not ready to judge the Navajo or Hopi experience simply based on what happened in 1725 in Pennsylvania (we're talkin South West bro, please). Nor am I going to base it on what happened to the plains Indians when the Buffalo were killed off." (you mean when the blacks you talked about above in the paragraph were paid by settlers to kill them off, the Buffalo Soliders?!-wow)

And I apologize for my tone of offense, but you obviously have no idea about Native American history citing 1725, and plains buffalo and such. Colonization started when Colombus got here, you are, contrary to your view, belittling culture and religion, for the sport you love (as do many others), and yes the US economy was built on slave labor, and continues to thrive on consuming "3rd" world realities and through illegal immigration. Whats this mean bro, racism is real, always has been, and to you is normal through the words you've expressed to these people without really recognizing what you are saying and depicting. It really means more to you to ski on fake snow, I mean I thought this was a ski blog...talking bout jackson and utah dumps, etc....we're talking fake snow and not even what its made with that science doesn't even fully know yet (look up Tyronne Hayes and Cathy proppers work on these issues unrelated and unsubjective to snowmaking)...and when is the last time (or any!!) that fake snow brought a pow day???????

And yes, the implications for this case are far broader than the one case at hand. But when does the ski industry, and we as skiers, act accountably for the way it operates and gives us the goods? i guess to you it shouldn't, but ignorance isn't bliss to everyone. In a day where climate change is real (I've read a few other attacks you've written on this since finding this truly sad site this morning, which I realize I'm spending my time analysing as a storm rolls in :)) and skiing at a resort relies on natural features and processess, shouldn't we as a ski community reflect on if a ski area expansion is going to create social and environmnetal ills? The Sierra Club may not be a perfect model, and may be seen as an enemy to a ski consumer as yourself, but at some point we have to check ourselves and say, can we ski and not create impacts that drastically impact an area economically, socially, and environmnetally in abad way just so we can ski.

It can be done and steps are being taken in the ski world to do so; accountability as an ethic.

And I hope this exchange has been worthy for you, and people realize you may be drawing the line here as you keep saying skiing is merely a "sport"..."an assault on the sport" you love, and my way of life conflcits me in a great deal as well. I've been heckled for skiing forever, but the soul is always there with a few turns to bring back the smile.

However, you view that, "They use religion to do it. They use the quality of water to do it. They use obscure animals or any other thing that they can because they don't want us there. Not just at Snowbowl, but everywhere."..

It is so sad bro. I called and spoke with some of the folks in Arizona a while back to ask that same question cause I was blown away that me making turns on their mountain would be disrespectful. Then I learned that skiing is not the problem in the SF Peaks, and that the Native and environmnetal groups arn't against skiers, but continued disrespect in the name of profit, resourcs, and to provide ignorant people (YOU) a service derived as a resource. This in the past being minerals, water, timber, and now skiing, climbing, Mtn. biking, other tourism, etc.

We share these alpine zones with many other forms of life, and if you want your kids or your realtives or friends kids to enjoy this privledge as you do then we must curb our impact so we can ski pow forever.

Racism is real, I know its a harsh term in this day and people don't like to be called it, but when you say, "used an obscure religion to stop snowmaking at Snowbowl" you go beyond...what if you called a small sect of Judeaism, Christianity, Budhism, or Islam "obscure"? How man folks would be all over it...maybe not too many Native folk reading this...or maybe a couple 20 day a season affluent, elite, privledged folks?

Just recognize and respect...and go hike the east canyon of the Peaks (or maybe you don't hike either?)...I was told by those that, "don't want us there", to ski there and scored uber dry, light, blower pow after a small 8incher on a trip a little bit ago...spread the pow love and just stop the hatred man...and its just too easy to respond with this is all against you and skiers...look deeper, beyond your self, and for the record, almost every skier I met that was hiking in and around the Peaks and skied snowbowl told be so.colorado is where they all go, when they can, to really get it!...that's where that info came from, so sorry if you don't like going there. It seemed from your other depictions you do like going everywhere...and if you do have any people out that that know skiing is there way of life, affluent or not, we all know if the dumps big and good enough, we'll be there, and I'd be skiing my old skinny sticks on a 3 foot day if I had too (wow that would be tough now, but i stand by my point)with a cliff bar and nothiong else, to make the pow day....search on your next turns bro, and thanks for rapping with me and printing this...but if you have a site like this and pose to be someone who loves skiing and speaks to "the sport" recognize a greater audience and the assumptions you make in these truly hurtful views to some people: YOUR SPORT (privledge) v.s. A Cultural Way of Life (I know YOU think its obscure but they dont')

Posted by: skibummin at March 19, 2007 05:23 PM

Let's compare:

and I'm not calling you a racist

With your above statement:

So get off your privledged, racist ass, and drive to so.colorado and get some in telluride, Wolf Creek, or Silverton if you can hang.

Yeah, never called me a racist. Come on man, own what you said. If you think I am a racist because I don't like what happened here, then own it dude. But that is cool. And if you view my remarks as being racist or me as being a racist, feel free to make that a part of your argument. I think there are some really relevant points that you make. Me being a racist isn't one of them though.

I don't claim to be someone that speaks for the sport. And the very point of my priviledge to speak my mind is that to some person some time, my views may be as you said, "hurtful". I simply claim to be a father of three kids and Flagstaff represents my opportunity to take my kids to enjoy skiing. Not just me because I can go other places, but for the other 200,000 visitors that they get in a good snow year. These are people that are finding skiing, often for the first time. I know what a 3 footer and bluebird skies are but for most families, they may never get a day like this. They have jobs and mortgages and school for the kids and expenses and birthday parties and family vacations to Disneyland and soccer games. And skiing competes with all of these. Like it or not, if the sport is not affordable and accessible, kids won't get to experience the bliss that we do when we get that perfect day.

I said in a previous post that Flag leaves tons to be desired. The snow is inconsistent at best. Temps are too warm to maintain a long season. But Phoenix is a city of almost 4M people. And these people need access to the sport (and it is a sport, not a "life" or a "religion" or some metaphysical experience) or it never takes hold.

I rant continually about the lack of accessible skiing that in large part is caused by escalating prices. Flag offers skiing less than 2 hours from Phoenix and at a price point that people with kids that don't own H2's can afford. You keep talking about powder days and big dumps, but that is not skiing to most people (which is a sad commentary on things). Skiing to most people in this country is a day trip to Mount Whatever that has 1000 vertical feet at best, two old triple chairs that some other resort sold to them after they upgraded their lift, and marginal snow coverage at best. Skiing to me is just as much a rope tow made out of an old pickup truck up a big hill as it is inside a dome in Dubai or in Dallas at a shopping mall. It is all skiing. And I am appreciative of the fact that I don't have to suffer through this because I live at a resort half the year. But to others, they settle for Flagstaff or a dome at the mall or Mount Whatever. No, they don't settle, they have no choice. It is all they have. And skiing is still great even if it is on manmade snow in a mall.

But as to racism--I will not take ownership for the atrocities committed in the name of Catholocism by the Spanish. I won't take ownership for slavery in the 1800's. I won't own that cultures should be preserved in absence of outside changes. I am not a believer in "white guilt" or the other feelings that you describe. Native Americans live in absolute poverty, despite having massive casinos because their own leaders steal from them. Over and over, they continue to be repressed by their own leadership and continue to view themselves as victims. They are not helpless and it sucks that White Folks came to the New World and did some really bad things, but it is a far cry from Darfur or Rawanda or even Bosnia that have been happening right now in the world as we speak. But those are the comparisons that Joe Shirley makes calling using wastewater at Snowbowl "Genocide".

what if you called a small sect of Judeaism, Christianity, Budhism, or Islam "obscure"? How man folks would be all over it...maybe not too many Native folk reading this...or maybe a couple 20 day a season affluent, elite, privledged folks?

I will offer you that just 100 miles northwest of Flagstaff there is a religious group that is a small obscure sect of Christianity. Obscure Mormon sect that has about 50k members spread across Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Alberta. They are called the Fundamentalist LDS. They practice polygamy. You talk about being in favor of protecting "A Cultural Way of Life (I know YOU think its obscure but they dont')".

We don't protect religion at the expense of the rule of law. I respect the opinion of the 9th Circuit in that they are the law and their opinion determines the legality of the matter. At least until the appeal is heard. I don't respect folks that destroy property and make threats towards elected leaders to intimidate them into deciding one way or another. Now when you come on here and talk about Arizona and Flagstaff and how you talked to someone about the situation, you have no perspective on what is occuring here.

I respect your right to speak your mind. I don't appreciate your statement, "I realize you won't print this blog cause you have the control" because what you imply is that because I am a racist bigot, I also believe in censorship and run my site like a dictatorship. The purpose of my site is to facilitate a dialogue about the issues that are important to skiing in general, but specifically from the point of view of a father of three who struggles to make ends meet so that he and his family can enjoy skiing. I am not a dude that lives in a VW van and works at the local resort as a waiter to pay the bills. I don't have the man or corporations or big oil or whatever else I am supposed to. Skiing is a recreational activity. I am not even close to comparing it to something as hollow as having Mickey in a photo with your kid, but tell me about all the times you and your kids go skiing and what it is like to pay for a family of five to travel to Silverton or Wolf Creek or Breck or Vail or Telluride. And then, when you live in Phoenix or Tucson, get back to me on how you wish that you could sneak up to Flag and take a vacation day so that you can ski on a weekday to avoid the crowds as opposed to taking a week off to go to Colorado. Oh, yeah, and explain how you are gonna afford it.

Posted by: Justin at March 19, 2007 07:10 PM

For the dude that was reading the site today and basically calling me out about my "commitment" to ski culture or whatever else it was, I want to post a quote from my mission statement and my about page that are linked at the top:

I will try to pass along information that is useful and occasionally talk about new products or new things happening in the industry of interest to skiers and boarders. When I get bored, I might take a jab at some political matter of particullar interest to me, my friends, or folks in the industry. Maybe that is the environment, growth, new resorts, spotted owls, the McDonaldization of our ski culture, wages at resorts, etc. Nothing too serious like wars or elections or that sort of thing. I don't write about my political beliefs at this site, I do that plenty at other blogs. I will also write about local sports of interest to me and the things I do to keep the offseason from turning into a six month waiting game for snow to fall.
I remember scraping together every spare dollar I had so that I could spend a single day on the slopes as a college kid. I try to keep that mentality and remember that the industry is insanely expensive for most people. I am far from rich, but dedicate tons of time and energy to finding deals and skiing for as reasonable of a price as I can. I have three kids, so I tend to find deals on gear, lower cost resorts, and less expensive places to stay so that I spend as much of my limited budget as possible on actual time on the slopes. My work gives me the flexibility to spend 30+ days per year out skiing, so with a little planning I have been able to see most of the Intramountain West...

A blog is somewhere between a diary and an op-ed piece in a magazine. This blog is my diary of my experience as a father of three and skier travelling the western United States. I want to share information about the resorts, the sport, and the experience from my unique perspective. The site covers everything from slope conditions and resort reviews to my rants on the industry, affordability, housing, and work conditions. I also add occasional other items of interest, particullarly Phoenix sports such as ASU Football, the Arizona Cardinals, and Phoenix Suns that I hold season tickets to. The site is free form so the content is varied and contains an outsider's insider opinion of industry issues.

That is the importance of a "mission statement". When you come here, you know what you are getting. No slight of hand. No shiftiness. I didn't claim to be some skibum with no job who is out living the dream waiting tables at the resort to pay for his season pass. I have kids that I am exposing to the industry and the outdoors and the mountains. I live sandwiched into a world of trying to save for their college, pay for braces, keep a roof over our heads, and save for my own retirement.

I am a proponent of moderate expansion policies, affordability, accessibility, and environmental awareness. I am not a fan of scare tactics used by the Sierra Club, Club for Growth, ELF, and the Global Warming hysterics. These do not add to the discussion. We need realistic solutions that don't involve setting buildings on fire at Vail.

Snowbowl impacts my life directly. I live here in Arizona and it is the closest resort to my home. So don't come on my site and start criticizing me for keeping my site exactly in line with my mission statement and for writing about happenings at an Arizona resort that directly impacts me and my kids' skiing opportunities and start telling me to go to Southern Colorado.

Posted by: Justin at March 20, 2007 12:58 AM

Yo Justin

excerpts are taken from your blogs under Categories >> Arizona >> Snow Bowl and Sunrise
excerpts are not in any order
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Accept your losses in Federal Court. Accept that we have a system to adjudicate these situations. And realize that other people have a different view and different wants and desires for the Peaks.

Instead of trusting in the judicial process, they have not only engaged in obstructionist lawsuits that so far have consistently been determined to lack merit, but have engaged in a deceitful war in the media.

you had a response to a poster on 03/17

I publish under my name, so have the class to stand behind your words like I do.

so why don't you stand behind your words and accept your losses
apparently you cannot...
______________________________________________________________________________________

While many people disagree on whether snowmaking is good for the environment or whether Arizona Snowbowl is good for Flagstaff, there can be no question that these decisions should be made by elected officials and Forest Service experts, not by unelected and often unresponsive courts.

We should all be free to practice our beliefs, but when my right to religious freedom means stripping someone of their right to “Life, Liberty, and Property” by force of an unelected court system, we step increasingly toward tyranny.

the plaintiffs-appellants used the RFRA(Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000(RLUIPA) and to a lesser extent the NEPA(National Environmental Policy Act)

RFRA ---> the act passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97 to 3 and was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993

RLUIPA ---> the act was passed in both the House and the Senate by unanimous vocal consent, meaning that no objection was raised to its passage, so no vote was taken

taken together, RLUIPA reinforces and expands RFRA

(1) No government(in this case the USFS) shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution(the Tribes), unless the government can demonstrate that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly or institution

((A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

((B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

it was not the "unelected" 9th circuit that put this together, it was the elected Bill Clinton and congress(on two occasions)

if the USFS really believes(as they claim in NAVAJO NATION v USFS, 03/12/07) that downhill skiing on the san francisco peaks is of a compelling governmental interest they will not shut down the facility, even if the current operators(the arizona snowbowl resort limited partnership) of the concessions quits the agreement and there are no other buyers

there is nothing to prevent the USFS from managing and operating(they can contract out the concessions) the snowbowl when there is sufficient snowfall
_______________________________________________________________________________

What is not classy gets back to the original issue. Sacred mountain. Force a business to pay almost $3.5M in legal fees to stay in business, a business that they have already been told at multiple levels including the US Supreme Court who refused to hear the previous case of Wilson vs. Block that was filed in 1979 to shut the resort down. The Navajos have never prevailed at any level, but they simply have to find enough money to file a lawsuit and have little to lose.

The WMA tribe has good reason to want Snowbowl shut down. They are their competition.

They are trying to hose Snowbowl by using some lame "Religious Freedom" excuse to shut down snowmaking on the precious San Francisco Peaks. Instead of pumping WMA tribe money into fixing their 30 year old facilities and improving conditions, they instead spend it on legal challenges to shut down their competition.

On top of it, they have enlisted the help of environmental groups and the White Mountain Apache tribe that have their own agenda to shut the resort down.

from NAVAJO NATION v USFS, 03/12/07

By contrast, Appellants(The Tribes) in this case do not seek to
prevent use of the Peaks by others. A developed commercial ski
area already exists, and Appellants do not seek to interfere
with its current operation. There are many other recreational
uses of the Peaks, with which Appellants also do not seek to
interfere. Far from “seek[ing] to exclude all human activity
but their own from sacred areas of the public lands,”

the tribes DO NOT seek to shutdown snowbowl, but to stop expansion

furthermore: the navajo tribe prevailed in stopping the white vulcan pumice mine on the san francisco peaks and with the help of the USFS have now placed a moratorium on new mining claims for another 20 years

the tribes have prevailed in designating a good portion peaks with the help of the USFS as the Kachina Peaks Wilderness(designated by congress in 1984)

the USFS has identified the Peaks as eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and as a "traditional cultural property" and is working with the tribes to accomplish this

the tribes have a good record in trying to keep the san francisco peaks in its natural state

the navajo tribe has a good working relationship with the USFS, sometimes it may be adversarial but it is more of a plus than a minus

_______________________________________________________________________________

from your mission statement: When I get bored, I might take a jab at some political matter of particullar interest to me, my friends, or folks in the industry. Maybe that is the environment, growth, new resorts, spotted owls, the McDonaldization of our ski culture, wages at resorts, etc. Nothing too serious like wars or elections or that sort of thing. I don't write about my political beliefs at this site, I do that plenty at other blogs.

i suggest you change this portion of your mission statement to:
i reserve the right to say anything(i really mean anything) about anybody --whenever i feel like it
i reserve the right to act like a ignorant, racist jackass because this website is MY diary and op-ed piece

i tried by best to be nice and i pointed to only 4 things you've raised
i could go on and on, but that would be a waste of time
you really should take up this cause, it's a much more important issue: http://phoenix.about.com/od/weather/a/browncloud.htm ...and let snowbowl's situation sort itself out

later, gator

Posted by: glen at March 20, 2007 08:08 PM

Since you brought up the RFRA and its history, why not talk about what its purpose is... it is designed to force the courts to interpret the First Amendment as Congress sees fit as opposed to how they did in Smith.

Smith was a case in Oregon over two Native Americans that were fired for using Mescaline. They contended that the First Amendment gave them the right to use Mescaline and not be fired from their jobs. Here are excerpts of the Oral Arguments in Smith that led to the RFRA's passage in 1993 as sort of a knee jerk disagreement with the court decision in Smith:

This case is before this Court a second time. The first question was whether claimants were entitled to receive unemployment compensation benefits after being fired as drug counselors. It is undisputed that they violated their employer's job-related rule that they be drug free because they ingested peyote in the ceremonies of the Native American Church.

A majority of this Court held that the claimants were not entitled to unemployment benefits under the doctrine of Sherbert v. Verner if their conduct, even if religiously motivated, violated a valid Oregon criminal law. After the Oregon Supreme Court's ultimate decision on federal grounds on remand, the question is this. Does the Free Exercise Clause require every state to exempt the religious peyote use by the Native American Church, or perhaps even beyond that, other substance use by other religions, from the reach of generally applicable criminal laws regulating the use of controlled substances by all citizens?

Justice Scalia stated the following in the decision of the SCOTUS in Smith:

Respondents in the present case, however, seek to carry the meaning of "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]" one large step further. They contend that their religious motivation for using peyote places them beyond the reach of a criminal law that is not specifically directed at their religious practice, and that is concededly constitutional as applied to those who use the drug for other reasons. They assert, in other words, that "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]" includes requiring any individual to observe a generally applicable law that requires (or forbids) the performance of an act that his religious belief forbids (or requires). As a textual matter, we do not think the words must be given that meaning. It is no more necessary to regard the collection of a general tax, for example, as "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]" by those citizens who believe support of organized government to be sinful than it is to regard the same tax as "abridging the freedom . . . of the press" of those publishing companies that must pay the tax as a condition of staying in business. It is a permissible reading of the text, in the one case as in the other, to say that, if prohibiting the exercise of religion (or burdening the activity of printing) is not the object of the tax, but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended...

If the "compelling interest" test is to be applied at all, then, it must be applied across the board, to all actions thought to be religiously commanded. Moreover, if "compelling interest" really means what it says (and watering it down here would subvert its rigor in the other fields where it is applied), many laws will not meet the test. Any society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy, but that danger increases in direct proportion to the society's diversity of religious beliefs, and its determination to coerce or suppress none of them. Precisely because "we are a cosmopolitan nation made up of people of almost every conceivable religious preference," Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. at 606, and precisely because we value and protect that religious divergence, we cannot afford the luxury of deeming presumptively invalid, as applied to the religious objector, every regulation of conduct that does not protect an interest of the highest order. The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind -- ranging from [p889] compulsory military service, see, e.g., Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437 (1971), to the payment of taxes, see, e.g., United States v. Lee, supra; to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, see, e.g., Funkhouser v. State, 763 P.2d 695 (Okla.Crim.App.1988), compulsory vaccination laws, see, e.g., Cude v. State, 237 Ark. 927, 377 S.W.2d 816 (1964), drug laws, see, e.g., Olsen v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 279 U.S.App.D.C. 1, 878 F.2d 1458 (1989), and traffic laws, see Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569 (1941); to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, see Susan and Tony Alamo Foundation v. Secretary of Labor, 471 U.S. 290 (1985), child labor laws, see Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944), animal cruelty laws, see, e.g., Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 723 F.Supp. 1467 (S.D.Fla.1989), cf. State v. Massey, 229 N.C. 734, 51 S.E.2d 179, appeal dism'd, 336 U.S. 942 (1949), environmental protection laws, see United States v. Little, 638 F.Supp. 337 (Mont.1986), and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races, see, e.g., Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574, 603-604 (1983). The First Amendment's protection of religious liberty does not require this.

Scalia and Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Smith and one would rightly suspect that they would remain opposed to Congress's attempts in the RFRA to throw out their case law. Assuming that Alito and Roberts along with Thomas would take a similar constructionist view of the matter, I fully expect that the RFRA will be struck down for Federal Government just like it was for state government in Boerne.

There you go Gator. The RFRA that the tribes used infringes on some real dangerous ground and expect that the SCOTUS will take this on just as they did Boerne and they will overrule the 9th Circuit and throw out this law. Is it racist of me to read case law and support a position that was affirmed by majority in the SCOTUS in Boerne in 1997 or in Smith in 1990? Just wondering if that makes me a racist or an ignorant jackass.

Posted by: Justin at March 22, 2007 03:19 PM