Manager approves 2,200 skier days
Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest has allocated a total of 2,200 skier days to the borough’s three helicopter skiing tour operators for a season to run through May 3.
His distribution was Alaska Heliskiing, 1,250; Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures (SEABA), 750; and Alaska Mountain Guides (AMG), 200.
“These numbers represent the initial allocation for the 2011 season,” Earnest wrote in an April 1 report for the Haines Borough Assembly. “There are 400 skier days held in reserve for the companies to apply for until the end of the season.”
The assembly last month approved an ordinance that permits up to three operators to share a 2,600 skier-day maximum.
“Each company has been informed that they may apply to the manager for additional days as the season progresses based on documented commitments from clients,” Earnest wrote. “There is no guarantee that any company will be awarded additional days.”
He noted his allocation kept the same ratio of skier days for Alaska Heliskiing and SEABA, five to three. Previously, the days had been 750 for Alaska Heliskiing and 450 for SEABA to cover the Feb. 1 through May 3 season.
AMG in December requested 600 skier days as a potential new operator in the borough. Sean Gaffney, AMG president, asked for 200 skier days when the assembly approved AMG’s permit last month.
Gaffney said AMG’s operation could expand, but “200 is a number that works for us.”
“We would hope that in subsequent years, the fact that we didn’t try to show as much historical use as we are capable of, that it won’t be held against us in future allocations,” he said.
Earnest wrote that this year’s initial allocation “is not a precedent for future seasons.” He said heli-skiing had a slow start in 2011 due to weather difficulties but is “really picking up.”
“They’re going gangbusters right now,” Earnest said.