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Monday, October 24, 2005

The ski resort in a desert on a sacred mountain.

Randal C. Archibald's Times story about the court battle between 13 Indian tribes and the Arizona Snowbowl — a ski resort operated on Forest Service land that the tribes consider sacred — is interesting on so many levels.

The tribes complain, for starters, that the ski resort's plan to generate artificial snow using treated wastewater will spiritually pollute the mountains:

A lawyer for one of the tribes likened it to "pouring dirty water on the Vatican."

In a trial that began this month, 13 Indian tribes who regard the peaks as virtual living deities of the highest order argued that the plan would interfere with their religious practices, including the gathering of mountain water and herbs they say the artificial snow would taint.

"The mountain is like a power plant," Frank Mapatis, a spiritual leader in the Hualapai tribe, said in court. "You plant a feather there, and it is like plugging into a power plant."

The clash of worldviews is fascinating in its own right, but the part of the story that I couldn't get my head around was this:

Eric Borowsky, a principal of the resort, said in an interview that despite bountiful snows last season, most other recent years have been dry. In the winter of 2001-02, the resort was open only four days and revenue was only 1.5 percent of the budget.

"No business in the world can stay in business if you miss 98.5 percent of your revenue," Mr. Borowsky said. The 777-acre resort pays the federal government 1.5 percent of its annual revenue in rent, which in 2004 was $138,957.

Sounds like simple bad ecology to me.

("Commerce and Religion Collide on a Mountainside," Randal C. Archibald, New York Times 10.23.05, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 24 October 2005 at 7:53 AM

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October 24, 2005 10:17 PM | Permalink for this comment

Jason's Wildhunt Blog has a lot more on this story.

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