Coconino National Forest has issued a forest order that states camping is now restricted on Snowbowl Road near Flagstaff. The restriction started on September 7, specifying that, while Snowbowl Road, the Arizona Snowbowl and Leroux Springs area were off-limits, it was still possible to camp along Forest Road 522 and Freidlein Prairie Road, plus “Big Camp” on Humphreys Peak trail. Additionally, there are no restrictions on day use.
Forest Orders always supersede Travel Management Plans and MVUMs
While all forests will soon be issuing Travel Management Plans, they are also allowed to issue temporary closures — forest orders — that supersede any such plans. Wherever you boondock in national forests, it’s your responsibility to find out what restrictions are in place, since closures may not be signposted. In this case, the penalty is as much as a $5000 fine and six-month imprisonment.
Sounds harsh? Here is the most likely reason for the closure. There’s an activist group in Flagstaff that has a strong explanation for why this restriction was put in place. Local Hopi and environmentalists have formed a grassroots protest against Flagstaff’s granting of permission to use treated sewage to add fake snow to the Snowbowl ski resort.
Snowbowl Forest Order curtails activists protesting against wastewater snow
There are both environmental and religious concerns: The mountain that hosts Arizona Snowbowl is a rare habitat that’s reportedly already half taken up with the resort; expansion will only reduce the habitat. Additionally, the use of treated waste water, which may contain hormones and chemicals, is offensive to the Hopi people, who see the mountain as a sacred place.
With the increase of graffiti in Flagstaff, organized protests and a gathering momentum, the owners of the Arizona Snowbowl, which sits on Coconino National Forest land, seem to be anticipating attacks on their equipment and property. Additionally, the Hopi have entered a lawsuit against the City of Flagstaff.
Either way, what it all boils down to is this: Don’t camp near Snowbowl Road until the forest order ends. There are plenty of other spots in the region. See the links below to read about the Snowbowl Forest Order.
- What is National Public Lands Day?
- Gila National Forest’s travel management not ready yet
- Forest Order and restriction area map
- Navajo-Hopi Observer
- True Snow movement
- Arizona Snowbowl
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