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Agreement Reached between Hopi and USFS in Case to Protect Groundsel
KYKOTSMOVI, AZ. - The Hopi Tribe and the United States reached an interim agreement concerning the Tribe's claims that the U.S. Forest Service is violating the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") by allowing snowmaking with reclaimed wastewater at the Arizona Snowbowl.
The United States has agreed: (1) to provide the Hopi Tribe with direct government-to-government consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Fish and Wildlife Service reviews the matter, (2) to complete an independent atmospheric modeling analysis of the snowmaking operations, and (3) to implement additional monitoring at the critical habitat of the threatened San Francisco Peaks groundsel, an endangered plant that exists only on the San Francisco Peaks in and around the Arizona Snowbowl special use area.
The Hopi Tribe continues to oppose the planned snowmaking with reclaimed wastewater and does not agree with the Forest Service's position that the proposed snowmaking is safe for the environment and public health. "The Hopi Tribe looks forward to making its case directly to the Fish and Wildlife Service that the planned snowmaking will irreversibly harm the San Francisco Peaks",said Robert Lyttle, General Counsel for the Hopi Tribe.
The safety and protection of the threatened San Francisco Peaks groundsel and its critical habitat is now before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its review and consideration. The Fish and Wildlife Service, whose mission is to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, will now review the Forest Service's most recent Biological Assessment. The Fish and Wildlife Service may also prepare its own Biological Opinion.
The agreement reached between the Hopi Tribe and the United States provides for additional atmospheric modeling analysis, monitoring and consultation to occur before the Fish and Wildlife Service issues its decision. "This review is long overdue. We are continuing to request that the Obama Administration revisit this decision to allow snowmaking at Snowbowl under its current Sacred Places policies and based on the new information concerning risks to the environment and public health," said Leroy Shingoitewa, Chairman, Hopi Tribe.
Preservation of the fragile alpine ecosystem of the San Francisco Peaks for all remains a core goal for the Hopi Tribe, numerous other American Indian Tribes, and many others. The Peaks are a sacred place to many for their environmental, cultural and religious value.