We Should Make Snow on the Mountain

We Should Make Snow on the Mountain
The varying opinions on whether snow should be made on the Snowbowl Ski Mountain in Flagstaff, Arizona have grown to become a statewide debate. Snowbowl is one of the sacred mountains in the San Francisco Peaks that is very meaningful to the Native people. If snow were to be made on the mountain, it would interfere with the beliefs of many people. On the other hand, many Arizona residents rely on the ski area for its incoming business, recreation, and for providing jobs to many people. The dispute on the expansion of the ski area and the making of snow has continued to be discussed for the last fifteen years. The tribes defending their lands are very confident in the decisions the National Forest has been faced with. Should snow be made on Snowbowl Mountain? The answer is fast approaching. The National Forest Department of Coconino is taking the final public response on the proposed action before a decision is made. It is clear, though, that the proposed improvements for Snowbowl bring about many negative factors such as interfering with the Native beliefs, the effects it will have on the economy, and the costliness of the expansion. This almost makes the proposed plan not worth the effort.
First, the Native?s beliefs in this area are very important because the land is so sacred to them. They do not want it to be destroyed. ?It?s something so emotional to the Hopi people. The Peaks are part of our everyday lives. It?s not just a significant landscape; it carries the essence of our life as well.? Kuwanwisiwma, chief of the local Hopi tribe, states in an article published in the Arizona Daily Sun (2002). This project is also very unnatural towards the environment. The making of snow is not only going against natures? beliefs, but it affects the way of life for many of the Native people. The Natives, particularly the Navajo and Hopi in this area, find the San Francisco Peaks to be sacred and very important to their religion, lives, and spiritual beliefs. They feel that a ski area should not even be present in this area. Since the Coconino National Forest Service has to oversee all aspects, the Natives hold a very strong argument. Given that Arizona is a desert and is always facing drought issues, the making of snow has become a difficult process. The making of snow is done in almost all functioning ski areas, just not at Snowbowl. The proposed plan was to use purified recycled water for the making of snow on the mountain to keep the ski area open through the season. Kuwanwisiwma states in an article in The Arizona Sun (2002) written by Gary Ghioto, ?Health is a very significant issue and there is always the morality of recycling these wastes to create artificial snow.? The argument is strong against the use of recycled water to make the snow. The Natives do not want unnatural substances touching their sacred lands.

Next, the Flagstaff community will be faced with upcoming problems in the years to come. For the size of the town and the area, Flagstaff will become way too overdeveloped. The plan, written by the Coconino National Forest Committee, is proposing that there will be improvements to the current facilities, in addition to the building of new resort infrastructure. In turn, this will lead to the building of many new restaurants, entertainment, and shopping areas. The Snowbowl area will soon have a monopolistic effect on the entire community. Many small businesses, which are the backbone to the small town of Flagstaff, will be threatened and maybe put out of business because of this development. This will end up affecting the community a great deal.

Finally, the project has grown to great depths, and has become a very costly project. The expansion continues to grow adding on new features to the area each year. The proposal, done by the Coconino National Forest (September 2002), now includes the building of four new ski lifts and the upgrading of the ones standing, the installation of night lighting, adding approximately sixty-seven acres of new ski terrain in addition to the two hundred and four acres of season long snow coverage in the area, and the creation of a half pipe and tubing area. Although these improvements will help the ski area a great deal, the costs of this upgrading will be immense. The expansion of the area is not guaranteed to give any results. Although Flagstaff got an average of ninety nine inches of snow last year, according to the Arizona Department of Commerce on the GoSki Website (2004), the resort was only open for a total of four days last season. Spending all of this money on a hopeless cause will affect the economy of this area a great deal. The Flagstaff area will be suffering the most. Taxes from the community will be taken towards the improvements on the area, thus punishing the public for the need to keep the mountain open to tourists.

In the past fifteen years the Natives have been able to set a strong influence on the National Forest holding off the snowmaking and expanding of the ski area on their sacred grounds. Steven Begay, from the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Office, states in an article written by Gary Ghioto for the Arizona Daily Sun(2004), speaking for the sacred mountains, that ?from a Native American perspective, that place is so sacred it?s like a chamber off the Vatican, if you want to put it into western perspective.? In a letter written by the Forest Supervisor, published by the United States Department of Agriculture (2004), Jim Golden, he insures that a decision will be returned to the public on the proposed action at some point in the next three seasons to come, this was in the season of 2002.

Although the snowfall this year looks promising so far, there is no guarantee that the area will pull through. With the thirteen Native tribes strongly opposing all proposals, the effect it will have on the economy, and the costliness of the entire plan all working against the project proposal, the Snowbowl expansion may be set aside for more time to come. Satisfying the needs of the two opposing sides will be difficult, but the community will come to realize that the economy of Flagstaff and surrounding people will be affected greatly.

We Should Make Snow on the Mountain 8.8 of 10 on the basis of 4006 Review.