San Francisco Peaks.  Wupatki National
Monument in foreground.

A decision by the Ninth Circuit today took Blawgletter back to happy childhood days and a winter visit to a bison ranch.  Blawgletter remembers awe at the shaggy buffalo as they lumbered around and snorted wisps into the frosty air.  Then the ice.  Patches of yellow ice.  On the ground.  Near the buffalos.

Fear not, for Blawgletter’s impulse to snap off a piece of the xanthous solid for closer study set off parental warnings in the nick time.

Blawgletter’s reverie contrasts with the sacrilege from which the Ninth Circuit decision may have saved people native to the San Francisco Peaks area.  The tribes filed suit to prevent a ski resort from recycling "sewage effluent" to make artificial snow there, which the court noted has "long-standing religious significance to numerous Indian tribes of the American Southwest."  The court held that the United States Forest Service’s decision to allow the making of artificial snow from sewage violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that an environmental impact statement did not comply with the National Environmental Protection Act.  Navajo Nation v. United States Forest Service, No. 06-15371 (9th Cir. Mar. 12, 2007).

As a Navajo might say, aoo’!

Barry Barnett

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