February 2, 2012 | Vol. 42 No. 5

GPS data should be public

For many years I administered special use hunting permits for the forest service in Montana. Hunting area and hunting activity of individual outfitters was known to other guides as well as to the public. This served two purposes. First, it allowed the public to avoid areas (if they wished) where guides operated. Second, it reported activity that was not in compliance with the conditions of the permit. If a private hunter reported a perceived infraction, it was easy to respond by reviewing the conditions and area of that permit with the permit holder. Because outfitters were held to the conditions of their permits, they also policed each other. They were acutely aware that their permit could be revoked for violations and some were. What I’m getting at is the information obtained through use of GPS to track heli-ski operations should be public knowledge for reasons stated above. Since the Haines Borough administers the heli-ski permit, it should also enforce the conditions of that permit just as any agency would do for activities on their land. Forest service and borough lands are public; therefore, the public should know how they are being used or abused.