Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Heli-ski plan advances


The Haines Borough Assembly heard testimony from about six residents but made no substantive changes Tuesday to a revised heli-ski ordinance it introduced Oct. 9. Members voted 5-1 to send the measure to a second public hearing Nov. 6.

Jerry Lapp was opposed, saying the proposed changes go “way overboard.”

Changes from current borough law include establishment of a $5 per day borough fee to pay for borough management, an increase in penalties to as much as $1,000 per violation, and an Aug. 31 deadline for heli-ski permit applications.

The proposed ordinance also would allow the assembly to change the heli-ski map annually by resolution. The map defines areas here heli-skiing can occur.

Critics and industry supporters spoke against the proposed map changes. Heli-ski guides said the map constricts heli-skiing, making it less safe. Critics said it doesn’t consider concerns of biologists or of other, backcountry users.

By a 4-2 vote, the assembly defeated a motion that would have required consultation with state wildlife biologists before making changes to the heli-ski map. Members Norm Smith and Steve Vick supported the requirement.

Concerns voiced at the meeting included that setting map boundaries by resolution would not require opportunity for a public hearing.