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A Part Of Alaska Might Be Opening Up To More HeliSki And Snowcat Operations

The Girdwood Valley, AK - Credit: Nathan Searles from Portland, Oregon [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A proposal in the state of Alaska is looking to open an area near Girdwood to more heliskiing and snowcat skiing operations, according to a report from Alaska Public Media.

In what has been described as a "monopoly" by some, Chugach Mountain Guides has had the sole permit to operate helicopter and snowcat assisted ski operations in a part of the Chugach Mountains known as the Glacier/Winner Creek Special Use Area.

The state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing a change in regulations that currently only allow for one permit to be issued at a time. That current permit is held by Chugach Mountain Guides, who have held the sole permit for the last 20 years. However, another company expressed interest in an operating permit in 2018, which has motived the DNR to change regulations.

In an open letter to the people of Alaska, Marty Parsons, Director, Division of Mining, Land, and Water, explained "Until 2018, only one operator had applied for and been authorized for, the single 5-year permit in this special use area. In 2018, other parties also expressed interest in obtaining the single permit. These expressions of interest caused DNR to reevaluate its policies and practices regarding the management of this area. The department determined that it had no defensible, regulatory method in place to evaluate multiple applicants and allocate the single permit. In May of this year, DNR proposed a set of regulation changes to establish that method."

There is still time for the public to comment or question this proposal, all of which must be submitted in writing to dnr.permitting.regulation@alaska.gov. Further information on the proposal can be found at the Department of Natural Resources website, linked below.

News - Alaska Division of Mining, Land, and Water

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