Rep. Gosar and Other Members of Congress Call on Forest Service to Reopen Arizona Snowbowl
Month Long Closure is Killing Jobs, Wreaking Havoc on the Local Economy
The closure has languished for nearly a month now, forcing significant layoffs, costing businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars and wreaking havoc on the local economy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-04) led a letter today, signed by 10 Members of Congress, calling on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to provide a detailed briefing and justify the closure of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort or immediately reopen the permit area.
“Days before the busy Memorial Day weekend, the Forest Service abruptly shut down summer recreation operations at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. The closure has languished for nearly a month now, forcing significant layoffs, costing businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars and wreaking havoc on the local economy. To date, the Forest Service has failed to adequately answer important inquiries from local stakeholders about this shutdown. The agency needs to provide a detailed justification for this closure and answer important questions or immediately reopen Snowbowl.”
Today, U.S. Representative Paul Gosar and nine other Members of Congress sent a letter calling on the Forest Service to provide a sufficient reason for the closure of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort or immediately reopen the permit area, which appears to have been unfairly ordered closed by the Forest Service nearly one month ago.
Representatives that signed the letter include: Rob Bishop (UT-01), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), John Curtis (UT-03), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), Martha McSally (AZ-02), Steve Pearce (NM-02), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Pete Sessions (TX-32), Chris Stewart (UT-02)
The apparent reason for the closure provided to Snowbowl operators Mountain Capital Partners (MCP) by USFS during a meeting convened at MCP’s request is that USFS is concerned that if a fire were to start along Highway 180 or below the ski area, by a vehicle or otherwise, then the fire could spread to the ski resort and overwhelm its emergency and evacuation procedures.
The ski area in question is located approximately 6 miles away from the road and at an elevation of 3,000+ feet higher than the road itself, in one of the wettest areas of the State of Arizona. When coupled with the fact that ski areas in National Forests that are in similar situations as Snowbowl vis a vis altitude and wildfire threat routinely stay open even as large, active forest fires rage nearby, we are obliged to determine why USFS has taken the unprecedented action of abruptly closing the ski area for reason of a hypothetical rather than actual threat – and with only minimal notice and no consultation provided to resort operators.