Story last updated at 1:56 p.m. Thursday, November 28, 2002

Heliski biz on slippery slope
The Department of Natural Resources released the final heliski regulations for the Haines area this week, causing many in the helicopter ski business to fear the end of the industry.

"This pretty much shuts the industry down," said Southeast Backcountry Adventures general manager Scott Sundberg. "We've already heard from several clients that told us they're not coming back."

DNR commissioner Pat Pourchot signed the state's first special land-use designation for commercial helicopter use by defining heliski areas, flight paths, dates, times and permissible volumes of use in the Haines State Forest.

The Special Use Designation cuts end-of-season weather extensions for film crews from 15 days to three, and removes the Chilkoot Valley from future use.

According to state planners, the designation was designed to both protect wildlife and allow heliskiers adequate time and space to work. Skiers say it is too restrictive and will drive them out of business.

Utah-based Teton Gravity Research has already decided to skip Haines on its filming tour this year. They had spent up to 28 days in Haines each of the past four years producing snowboard and extreme skiing videos.

Planner Ray Bolger was surprised by the heliskiers' protests.

"It's hard to get an accurate read. We sat down with them and tried to enter frank discussions about what they needed. The plan as we presented it to them gave them room to operate," he said.

-Chilkat Valley News

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