Forums Splitboard Talk Forum San Juan Citizens Alliance appeals Silverton heli swap
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  • #808076
    Taylor
    792 Posts

    From Durango Telegraph:

    https://www.durangotelegraph.com/news/the-latest/san-juan-citizens-alliance-appeals-silverton-heli-swap/

    San Juan Citizens Alliance appeals Silverton heli swap

    Process to approve Silverton Guides expansion ‘deeply flawed’

    Missy Votel – 07/16/2017

    It could be a bumpy flight for Silverton Mountain’s heli-skiing operations. Last week, local environmental group San Juan Citizens Alliance filed an appeal with the BLM over approval of the ski area’s controversial land swap and expansion. Among other things, the group alleged the agency’s approval process to expand heli-ski operations on public lands surrounding Silverton was “veiled and illegal.” The group also alleges that dozens of comments were left out of the public record and/or were not accounted for or addressed during the scoping process.

    The BLM conducted an Environmental Assessment in the summer of 2016 for the proposal. In that proposal, Silverton Guides, the heli-skiing arm of Silverton Mountain, requested swapping some of its higher-elevation ski pods for ones at lower elevation. Although Silverton Guides would give up five pods in exchange for four, it would actually gain more than 10,000 acres in terrain.

    The resulting scoping process generated nearly 400 public comments, 85 percent of which were opposed to the expansion, with user conflicts with other backcountry users topping the list of concerns, according to the SJCA.

    “The unusually large level of engagement for a commercial recreational use permit is indicative of how controversial the proposal was,” stated a news release from the group.

    Nevertheless, in May of 2017, the BLM approved the swap and expansion, “despite failing to … address significant public concerns or analyze sufficient alternatives,” SJCA stated.

    Although the BLM is required to address issues brought up in the scoping period, the group argued, user conflicts were mentioned only in passing. In addition, commenters also suggested alternative proposals that the BLM ignored, choosing instead to only consider the standard “No Action” alternative.

    SJCA also alleged that a Freedom of Information Act request revealed at least 25 public comments were missing from the public record, and the BLM made no substantial effort to reconcile why they were missing.

    “The Bureau of Land Management is legally responsible to serve the public interest, but in this process they discarded public input in order to reach what seems to be a predetermined outcome benefiting one commercial interest to the detriment of a diverse array of winter recreationists,” SHCA’s Public Lands Coordinator Jimbo Buickerood said. “We simply couldn’t let that go.”

    Much of the expansion/swap area is southeast of Howardsville and encompasses Minnie and Maggie gulches, and Cunningham and Arrastra creeks. These areas were also considered – and denied – for expansion by the ski area in 2008. The reasons given were concerns over noise, backcountry user conflict and crossover with Wilderness Study areas. An additional expansion area is just north of Silverton, along Highway 110 near Hancock Gulch between the ski area and town.

    @sun_rocket

    #819774
    Scooby2
    611 Posts

    This is funny. Cliven Bundy, I mean Aaron Brill, who as I understand brought you heli-skiing groups to the accessible roadside runs in the greater Silverton area is feeling a bit blue because a third heli operation has been allowed to enter the Neacola range across the water to the east of Anchorage and they are going to change that wild, remote character of the experience for his clients (which he terms the public, ugh).

    From the Anchorage Daily News article:

    The company’s permit means there are more opportunities for skiing in the remote Neacolas. But the addition of Alaska Snowboard Guides, and its daily use of the area, has also fundamentally changed it, said Brill, who runs Silverton Mountain Guides.

    “You’re going to run into other helicopters, you’re going to run into other skiers. You’re going to lose some of the opportunities for that wild, remote experience,” he said. “It’s definitely changed the character of the experience that the public gets.”

    Aaron, you are loathing just what your enterprise is.

    https://www.adn.com/outdoors-adventure/2018/06/01/alaska-heli-skiing-company-takes-fight-over-fresh-tracks-to-federal-court/

    #819945
    powhound84
    92 Posts

    “You’re going to lose some of the opportunities for that wild, remote experience.”

    Doesn’t that happen as soon as you jump in a heli?


    Go that way really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.

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    #821863
    osubg1
    65 Posts

    This is kind of ridiculous. I was fortunate enough to do a full day heli skiing tour with Silverton Mountain guides last year. This company is class act organization. Silverton mountain is as close to backcountry as you can get. They bring business to Silverton during an otherwise bleak winter season. In AK, anyone we ran into was really cool about the whole operation, including those we ran into “in the field”.

    Letting Sliverton guides expand doesn’t hurt anyone. Seriously the 3 people that might be out there are mad about the noise? These are pretty remote locations, think they’ll be fine. I feel this is just a sierra club style protest – maybe they are bored?

    #821881
    Scooby2
    611 Posts

    My point was that it was ridiculous for a heli operator to complain about the detriment to their operations in the Neacolas by having an additional heli company get a permit to also operate on the same pretty vast area of public lands while at the same time they promote arguments for their expansion in Colorado to more easily accessible terrain like yours that there are only three people out there and they shouldn’t be mad about the noise.

    Debating and campaigning for allowed uses in multiple use lands is just part of the process of their management. From my experience in Utah I believe that the folks who enjoy this terrain on their own terms are affected quite a bit and are not just a bored group of protesters.

    I really think that where I live in the Wasatch that the commercialized and mechanized access to our small range has been way too greatly skewed to commercial enterprises both permanent in the case of resort expansion and intermittent in terms of heli-permitting. I’d hate to see these other great snowy places be all carved up for various private interests the way much of the Wasatch has regardless of whether the guides or developers are really great folks.

    #821930
    Brad
    1 Posts

    The entire point of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is to take into consideration ALL the points and views and values submitted, and assign weight based on the persuasion and frequency of the arguments presented. If as many as 25 public comments were left out (and getting 25 public comments on some projects is, on their own, a lot and conveys a pretty significant value to the resource), and 85% of the additional 400 were negative, I’d have a hard time not finding a significant adverse effect to the recreational value of the area as it currently stands. This should have been reflected in the report. The absence to me signifies a problematic oversight or (more likely) bias. Take a trip to Valdez in the spring and imagine, as a splitboarder, what it may look like with one or two fewer heli companies buzzing around. I can easily see the concern of the CO residents..

    #821947
    Taylor
    792 Posts

    This is funny. Cliven Bundy, I mean Aaron Brill, who as I understand brought you heli-skiing groups to the accessible roadside runs in the greater Silverton area is feeling a bit blue because a third heli operation has been allowed to enter the Neacola range across the water to the east of Anchorage and they are going to change that wild, remote character of the experience for his clients (which he terms the public, ugh).

    From the Anchorage Daily News article:

    The company’s permit means there are more opportunities for skiing in the remote Neacolas. But the addition of Alaska Snowboard Guides, and its daily use of the area, has also fundamentally changed it, said Brill, who runs Silverton Mountain Guides.

    “You’re going to run into other helicopters, you’re going to run into other skiers. You’re going to lose some of the opportunities for that wild, remote experience,” he said. “It’s definitely changed the character of the experience that the public gets.”

    Aaron, you are loathing just what your enterprise is.

    https://www.adn.com/outdoors-adventure/2018/06/01/alaska-heli-skiing-company-takes-fight-over-fresh-tracks-to-federal-court/

    Oh my God that’s rich. Almost worth a billboard with those quotes on the road up to Silverton.

    @sun_rocket

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