Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fwd: Alert - Snowbowl 'imminent start of construction

Jake Bacon The Aspen Nature Loop sits on a plot of ground that will be impacted by increased development of the Arizona Snowbowl. The loop is just below the lower parking area at the Arizona Snowbowl. Development maps show a new snow tubing area will be built at the site. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun)

Arizona Snowbowl has been cleared to add a conveyor-belt-type device to carry beginning skiers uphill, and to log a new ski trail.

Coconino National Forest District Ranger Mike Elson signed off on the plans Sept. 24.

Arizona Snowbowl plans to add the 150-foot-long conveyor belt this fall and regrade a 1.5-acre area due north of its lower lodge with bulldozers to create a flatter teaching area.

The owners plan to use the conveyor belt to save beginning skiers a walk uphill during lessons. They also plan to widen a lift line at the Spur Catwalk.

Whether logging is feasible this year is less certain, given the late start to the project and the onset of winter weather in two months or less.

Despite the imminent start of construction, Snowbowl's owners remain in court with a second lawsuit. They are fighting a handful of local plaintiffs who assert that using reclaimed water to make snow might not be safe for skiers or the environment.

As part of that case, both sides have agreed that no snowmaking-related construction would begin until after a ruling in federal district court in Phoenix. That is expected to happen in late October, said attorney for the plaintiffs Howard Shanker.

Shanker has vowed to appeal any decision not in his favor to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eric Borowsky, a Snowbowl part-owner, said that if he wins at the district court level this fall, he would start construction as soon as possible in order to make artificial snow in the winter of 2011-12.

"We're hopeful that the judge will rule in our favor," Borowsky said. "And if she does, we'll probably start construction. If it happens to be a dry winter, we would start construction on the (water) pipeline from Highway 180 back to Thorpe Park almost immediately."

Borowsky's attorneys are seeking to have the case thrown out on the grounds that some of the plaintiffs are obstructing any possible resolution by opposing either reclaimed or drinking water to make snow -- a position some of them openly acknowledged at the outset.

The plaintiffs suing the U.S. Forest Service since 2009 in this lawsuit are the Save the Peaks Coalition, Kristin Huisinga, Clayson Benally, Sylvan Grey, Don Fanning, Jeneda Benally, Frederica Hall, Berta Benally, Rachel Tso and Lisa Tso.

Tribes suing the federal government to prevent snowmaking lost their argument that allowing more development would infringe on their religious freedoms in June 2009, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case, leaving in place a 9th Circuit ruling that allowed snowmaking.

Cyndy Cole can be reached at 913-8607 or at

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Posted in Local on Friday, October 1, 2010 5:10 am Updated: 11:25 pm. | Tags:

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