A Question of Tactics
Sometimes it is good to stop for a moment and reflect on what has occurred over the last few months. In late May Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky decided he had enough waiting for courts to decide if the Forest Service (USFS) properly performed it's duties under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) in approving the expansion of Snowbowl. which included 1.5 million gallons of reclaimed water to make artificial snow. Blessed by the USFS he clear-cut 40 acres in the blink of an eye and is currently denuding the area of all life. He has also installed five miles of pipe along Snowbowl Rd. for the purpose of carrying waste water up the mountain to make fake snow. In a way, it reminds me of the way George Nackard cut the trees 3/4 of the way through and let them die to avoid zoning restrictions. He was caught, but he got what he wanted with a slap on the wrist. It was an irreversible act of violence.
Eric Borowsky knows that no matter any court decision, he now has new ski runs! Which is one large step closer to the full expansion of the area. Interestingly enough, the current clear-cut was preceded by an illegal lift line cut into it in 1979. It was only about 15 feet wide, but it went from the lodge to the top of Humphrey's and right down the center of what is now a quarter-mile wide swath spanning the same distance. The prior owners of AZ Snowbowl had illegally cut the path for a new lift line while the Wilson case was at trial and the US Forest Service stopped it. And now the new owner, Borowsky, widened it into a 40 acre swath of land that was clear-cut, de-stumped, contoured, and graded.
Borowsky was well aware he may lose in court and decided to take advantage of the cover of the lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court. So while tens of thousands of people thought the Peaks were protected from all groundbreaking activity because of lawsuits, he started construction at break-neck speeds. Sometimes working all night.
Many mainstream (oldstream) news outlet ran comments and opinions that spoke as if the issue was over when the Supreme Court reaffirmed the District court decision. Oldstream media never spoke about of the environmental and health concerns that were thrown out of court on a 'technicality' and were not ruled on in the District court decision.
They didn't mention that this left the door wide open for more than 200 people and organizations whose complaints remained unanswered and still had standing to sue. Which is exactly what 10 of them did. This is not a case of serial litigation. Thousands of people are still waiting for the court to finally do it's job and rule on the health issues and environmental impacts which had been swept under the rug on a technicality. Hundreds even cared so much they went through the four year administrative process so carefully, they still had the right to sue the USFS for it's NEPA deficiencies. It is rare for a USFS project to have so many possible litigants, the NEPA process is usually only adhered to so diligently by a few non-profit organizations.
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