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


Better oversight of heli-skiing


Placing the responsibility on the borough clerk for renewing a tour permit after a high-profile incident is flawed. This should have been addressed by the assembly. The cavalier attitude exhibited by the borough regarding this incident and its oversight of the industry’s operations over the past 12 years is disturbing. There have been many infractions by the operators, some of which we are aware of and many of which we are not.

I disagree with the clerk’s conclusion that a tour permit is property. The business is property. The tour permit is a license to do business in the public realm: In this case, to conduct business on public lands. There are no rights conveyed with this. Denying a permit is not a “taking.” If a business has a pattern of not following the rules and regulations, then their permit is revoked. 

There are federal, state and local laws and ordinances to protect the public and the environment. If these entities are being endangered or harmed then it is the government’s responsibility to step in and uphold the laws and regulations. The borough needs to do a better job of overseeing this industry. Cooperation and compromise on the part of the operators would make that job much easier.

Thom Ely