Haines Borough Manager Bill Seward is proposing changes to borough code governing heliski map advisory committees.
Seward says the need for changes came to his attention during the formation of the current heliski map committee.
Of the five seats on the committee, one goes to a conservation group representative, one to a heliski industry representative, one to a borough assembly member, and two to residents who petition for a spot.
Scott Sundberg, the owner of a local heliski company, applied for a resident seat. The industry spot was taken by another heliski company owner, Sean Brownell.
Sundberg was randomly chosen out of seven applicants to fill one of the resident seats. Brownell and Sundberg are the two heliski permit holders who submitted map amendment requests. Those requests trigger the formation of the advisory committee.
Manager Seward admitted there may be an ‘imbalance’ on the committee. He said he was ‘taking lessons learned’ and trying to implement changes in borough code to prevent a similar predicament.
His proposed amendments would add a line that specifies the two resident seats cannot go to people affiliated with an environmental or heliski industry group.
Seward also proposes changing the conservation organization seat to ‘environmental’ organization. On the current committee, Takshanuk Watershed Council Director Meredith Pochardt fills the conservation spot.
Seward says he wants to change that language because the word ‘conservation’ can have a ‘negative context to it.’
The proposed code amendment ordinance will be introduced at Tuesday’s borough assembly meeting. Seward says if the assembly approves the changes, it will not impact the makeup of the current heliski map committee. He says he cannot retract his appointments.
The map committee is an advisory group. The assembly has the final say on changes to permitted ski areas.