The Haines Borough this month fined Skagway tour company Alaska Excursions $2,500 for operating a tour at Glacier Point without a permit in 2017.

Alaska Excursion’s Robert Murphy operates the Glacier Point canoe tour. The Haines Borough discovered the unpermitted activity after a competing tour company notified staff that Alaska Excursions was advertising a different ATV tour without a permit, deputy clerk Alekka Fullerton said.

“They have now applied for a new tour, which is how this all came to light,” Fullerton said. “I looked into their original permit and realized they did not have a 2017 tour permit.”

Alaska Excursions paid the fine. Fullerton reissued the tour company a 2018 tour permit and described last year’s permitting lapse as an oversight.

“They pay their sale tax regularly. They have never operated without a permit in the past. We took it as a mistake rather than intentionally trying to get around the $25 permit fee,” Fullerton said. “There’s a little bit of culpability for the borough. We all kind of knew they were operating. They knew they were operating. It was an oversight.”

The Haines Borough Assembly will review Alaska Excursion’s new permit application for the proposed ATV tour at its Feb. 27 regular meeting.

The ATV tour proposes a maximum capacity of 48 people per tour, with a total of 15,000 out-of-town annual guests, the application states.

Lynn Canal Conservation wrote a letter to the assembly opposing the permit. In the letter, LCC President Eric Holle cited concerns about ground-nesting birds— specifically Arctic and Caspian terns. Holle said the borough should conduct an ornithological survey of the area to increase awareness of nesting habitat. He cited a 2007 United States Geological Survey study of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve that recommends closures in nesting areas during chick-rearing periods.

“The use of motorized vehicles reduces the operator’s ability to recognize disturbance and avoid conflict with wildlife,” Holle wrote. “It is also likely to reduce the visitor’s overall immersive experience amidst wildlife and wilderness. LCC supports non-motorized tours to Glacier Point that do not threaten wildlife use of the area.”

The ATV course hasn’t been mapped, according to the permit application, but will be located on private property in the borough’s general use zone. The general use zone is intended to allow for a broad range of land uses, according to borough code. A conditional use permit is required in the general use zone only for “high impact” land uses such as landfills, commercial power plants, heliports and hazardous materials storage facilities.

Alaska Excursions advertised its Glacier Point ATV tour on its website. Advertising an unpermitted tour is against Haines Borough Code. The company removed the advertising from its website after communicating with borough staff earlier this month.

The tour permit application will be available for public review when the assembly’s packet is published this week.