Tag Archives: heli-skiing

Helicopter skiing proposal rejected — for now

From the Thursday, December 11, 2008 online edition of the Daily Inter Lake . . .

The Stillwater State Forest, citing considerable public opposition, has denied a request to allow helicopter skiing on parts of the Whitefish Mountain Range.

Brian Manning, manager of the Stillwater and Coal Creek state forests, said his office received 316 comments, most of them opposed to helicopter skiing.

“Their concerns mainly include the noise and effects to winter recreation; the adverse effects to various wildlife species; low-flying aircraft effects to adjacent landowners and the potential for trespass on federal lands,” Manning wrote in a letter to Triple-X Helicopter and Valhalla Adventures, two Whitefish businesses that proposed helicopter skiing operations on specific parts of the Coal Creek and Stillwater forests.

Commercially guided ski trips were proposed at Winona, Coal and Stryker ridges on the two state forests.

Read the entire article . . .

Keep heli-skiing out of North Fork

John Frederick’s letter to Nicole Stickney of the Montana DNRC regarding the proposal to conduct heli-skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range appeared in today’s Hungry Horse News in the Letters section . . .

I can sympathize with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in trying to find money through the school trust lands for Montana schools. It is not easy to balance environmental and social concerns while trying to get big bucks for the schools.

The two proposed locations for heli-skiing in Coal Creek State Forest are rather close to Polebridge. Winona Ridge, one of the proposed landing/skiing sites, is a little less than three and a half miles from Polebridge and roughly parallels the North Fork Road at a distance of 3/8 of a mile to almost a mile away. It is also not a high mountain which means more noise from helicopters. The other proposed, nearby skiing location is Coal Ridge which at the closest point is only four miles southwest of Polebridge.

I hope you can now understand why people become upset about heli-skiing or any frequent use of helicopters any time of the year when it is not an emergency. Most people, both residents and visitors, come to the North Fork for solitude and quiet.

Others have e-mailed you about the strong probability of people and wildlife being harassed by helicopters bringing skiers to places such as Winona Ridge in Coal Creek State Forest. Many other questions remain unanswered about the possibility of local heli-skiing.

What are the models, sizes and occupancies of the helicopters to be used? What are the decibels created by such machines? How far will the sound travel and be heard?

How many flights a day will be allowed? How many skiers? Triple X, one of the applicant helicopter companies, said they flew 260 helicopter flights over Whitefish during the fourth of July weekend. Hardly anyone wants that kind of activity in our state forests.

Would DNRC give permits to other companies who requested a similar permit?

What are the flight patterns? Do the helicopters go directly to the skiing location or do they swing over to Glacier Park for a scenic tour?

Has anyone at DNRC researched the location of bear dens in the vicinity of the flight paths?

How do the skiers return? By snowmobile or helicopter? And what is their route?

How much would you charge the operators of the helicopter skiing for a permit?

Has DNRC researched other locations in Alaska or British Columbia where heli-skiing has already taken place? Are there problems?

Heli-skiing has never been done in the Flathead Valley. Therefore, it might be a good idea to leave the comment period open for a while longer. There is a definite lack of information on the subject at this time.

Look at the Hungry Horse News article last week by Chris Peterson as it reflects the opinions of many North Forkers. There is a link to the article on the North Fork Preservation Association Web site (with new format) at www.gravel.org.

John Frederick of Polebridge is the North Fork Preservation Association president.

DOW not happy with heli-skiing proposal

The deadline for public comments on the proposal to allow helicopter skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range expired today. Overall attitudes appear to range from cautious skepticism to outright hostility. One of the lengthier responses was an 18-page missive submitted by the Rocky Mountain Region Office of Defenders of Wildlife, covering everything from the applicable regulations and agreements to wildlife impact and the potential disturbance to nearby federal and private holdings. The real meat is in the last paragraph:

This letter has described the complex and varied potential effects of the proposed helicopter skiing operations. In order to completely and carefully examine these effects, we believe the preparation of an environmental impact statement is justified and required. We are also concerned that many interested members of the public may not be aware of these proposals. If it were not for an article in the Kalispell newspaper, we would not know about it ourselves. We found no mention of it on the NDRC website, for example. For these reasons, we look forward to participating in the public review component of an EIS process.

They seem annoyed.

Bad ideas for the North Fork

Chris Peterson, photographer for the Hungry Horse News, doesn’t think much of the recent proposal to allow heli-skiing in the North Fork.

From the Thursday, October 9, 2008 online edition of the Hungry Horse News . . .

It seems like once a week someone comes up with a bad idea for the North Fork of the Flathead.

Our friends in Canada propose coal mines in the headwaters (the latest scuttle is that a company is now doing test drilling for gold in Howell Creek, a main tributary of the river).

Down in our neck of the woods the annual (no, weekly) debate is on whether to pave the road and how rough the road is and blah, blah, blah.

Lemme just say this: Folks down here haven’t even seen a rough road until they’ve driven the roads in the Canadian Flathead. They are rough with a capital “R.” Rough enough to jar the fillings right out of Larry Wilson and Bob Grimaldi’s teeth.

But the latest and truly bad idea for the North Fork comes from the fine folks at Triple-X helicopter, who propose heli-skiing up on Coal and Winona ridges just outside of Glacier National Park.

Read the entire article . . .

Comments regarding heli-skiing proposal

The recent proposal to allow heli-skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range seems to be getting folks stirred up — enough so that the comment period has been extended to October 10.

A recent article in the Hungry Horse News provides a good overview of the the proposal and the circumstances surrounding it.

Comments should be directed to:

Nicole Stickney
Special Uses Forester
Stillwater State Forest
P.O. Box 164
Olney MT 59927

Or by email to nstickney@mt.gov

A great many of the comments submitted so far are from people concerned about wildlife disruption and other impacts in a particularly sensitive area. The following email, sent by Richard Andersen on September 30, is a good example . . .

Nicole Stickney
Special Uses Forester
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Stillwater Unit

Dear Nicole,

As a native Montanan and life-long resident of the Flathead, I am very concerned to know that helicopter skiing is being considered for the Whitefish Range.

Continue reading Comments regarding heli-skiing proposal

Companies seek permit for heli-skiing in North Fork

The Wednesday, October 1, 2008 online edition of the Hungry Horse News has a well-written article on the proposal for heli-skiing in the Coal Ridge and Stillwater State Forests . . .

Two local companies have brought proposals to the state for heli-skiing on state lands in the Whitefish Range.

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation sent out a scoping notice on Sept. 11 to property owners near the proposed areas of operation and to some government agencies. The deadline for comment has been extended to Oct. 10.

Read the entire article . . .

Firms seek OK to offer helicopter ski services

From the Wednesday, September 24, 2008 online edition of the Daily Inter Lake . . .

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is considering a proposal that could bring helicopter skiing to state lands in the Whitefish Mountain Range.

The agency is taking public comment on the proposal for commercially guided helicopter skiing on portions of the Stillwater and Coal Creek state forests. The proposal comes from Valhalla Adventures and Triple-X Helicopter Inc., a new company in the Flathead.

Read the entire article . . .