The recent Chamber of Commerce award to SEABA as the business of the year concerns me. While a company that brings needed employment and spinoff dollars to the community and great joy to their customers deserves positive recognition, that recognition should not be given to a company that achieves those goals while disregarding borough code and signed permit agreements. The Chamber’s actions in recognizing SEABA seem to say as long as the money flows in, the means of achieving it can be ignored. 

I personally support a regulated heli-ski industry in the valley. The community worked hard to reach a compromise on the scope of heli-skiing and the number of skier days. In 2009, SEABA requested and received an emergency allotment of an additional 100 skier days for 2009. Then in January 2010 the assembly made that emergency increase a permanent one, adding 100 skier days to the original agreed upon number.  The problem arose when SEABA decided to defy borough code and the requirements of their permit and sell another 100 skier days. Their justification according to Nick Trimble: “We couldn’t turn business down. We just couldn’t.”

I would appreciate a concise, civil discussion of heli-skiing regulations that takes into consideration all sides of the issue — the borough residents who voted for regulated heli-skiing, the borough’s code based on compromise, benefits to our community, how the regulations are working, and what to do when a company blatantly breaks permit requirements and the law.

Tim McDonough