Arizona Snowbowl Wins Another Round in Court
SAM Magazine-San Francisco, Calif., Feb. 9, 2012-Arizona Snowbowl and the U.S. Forest Service gained another court victory today as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District affirmed a district court decision upholding the Forest Service's 2005 Record of Decision regarding snowmaking at the Snowbowl, rejecting a suit brought by the Save the Peaks Coalition. The decision allows Snowbowl to continue with its snowmaking installation.
In his opinion, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. termed the plaintiff's case "a gross abuse of the judicial process," as some the plaintiff's arguments were nearly identical to arguments previously made by the Navajo Nation in a suit rejected by the courts, and because the latest suit was initiated only after appeals to the Navajo suit-handled by the same legal team-had been exhausted.
In affirming the Court's decision, Smith wrote, "Represented by the same attorney as the losing parties in the first lawsuit, the 'new' plaintiffs-who had closely monitored and, in some cases, actively encouraged and helped finance the first litigation-brought certain environmental claims that were virtually identical to some that the attorney had improperly attempted to raise in the earlier lawsuit, for no apparent reason other than to ensure further delay and forestall development."
Snowbowl hailed the decision. "We are very pleased with the ruling and excited to complete our snowmaking system this summer," said Snowbowl GM J.R. Murray. Snowbowl began laying pipe for the snowmaking installation last summer, and plans to have it ready for the 2012-13 season.
The snowmaking system is phase 1 of the ski area's upgrade plan, which also includes new lifts, trails, and upgrades to facilities. But all that is dependent on snowmaking. "A sustainable business model is the first priority, which snowmaking provides," Murray said.