WEA advocates take a stand for water and sacred sites



This evening, the Flagstaff City Council’s Water Commission will hold a public hearing to decide whether to sell municipal drinking water to Arizona Snowbowl, the ski resort on the San Francisco Peaks, instead of or as well as reclaimed wastewater. WEA Delegates from our May 2010 Advocacy Delegation, Defending Sacred Places in the Southwest, are taking collaborative action towards protecting the Peaks.

WEA supports our initiative partner, the Save the Peaks Coalition, in their legal and public awareness campaigns to protect this holy mountain from interference and contamination in the name of economic development. Earlier this week, WEA’s Sacred Earth Advocacy Network advisor Carolyn Raffensperger, with WEA Advocacy Director Caitlin Sislin, sent a letter to Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture, urging USDA to rescind their snowmaking permit to Arizona Snowbowl.

The Peaks, which rise to 12,000 feet above Flagstaff, Arizona, at the Western edge of Navajo lands, are sacred to thirteen tribes – including the Navajo, for whom the Peaks represent a central locus of spiritual power. Presently, for tribes throughout the Colorado Plateau, the Peaks are threatened by proposed snowmaking that would increase the mountain’s ski resort’s annual skiable days. For these tribes, whose spirituality and culture are inextricable parts of a whole, the San Francisco Peaks are regarded as a holy place tantamount to the most revered sanctuaries of Western monotheistic traditions.



Either the use of wastewater – which is known to contain endocrine-disrupting contaminants and other pathogens – or the use of precious drinking water in this arid Western region, would represent an unacceptable degree of physical and spiritual risk to the mountain itself and to the health and well-being of future generations. Tribe members, community activists and other concerned citizens will present their views to the Flagstaff City Council at 6 p.m. this evening — stay tuned for information on the outcome of the meeting, and our work in support of the Save the Peaks campaign.
Please see WEA Advocacy Director Caitlin Sislin’s recent article in High Country News for more information on the legal campaign to protect the holy San Francisco Peaks.

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