Whether Alaska Heliskiing should get their borough permit renewed to operate a commercial activity on public lands may be debatable. But the most disturbing fact from last week’s heli-ski article was the borough’s statements that a tour permit is not a privilege but rather a property right, equivalent to a piece of property.
Please. We all have the right to apply for a permit. However, once a permit is given, it is contingent upon the permit holder to comply with certain conditions attached to the permit. The permit is renewable every so many years and can be terminated at any time for reasons in the public interest.
The mindset that a borough tour permit is not a privilege is part of the problem. If it were a piece of property, that would allow the user to use it as they would a piece of their own private property and do with it whatever they want. When treated as a privilege, the permittee may have more respect for the opportunity they have been given to profit from the use of public lands and therefore be more respectful of the rules under which they have agreed – with the public – to operate. There is no private ownership.
Again, operating commercial activities on public lands in the borough is a privilege, not a right.