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Broadcaster: Margaret Friedenauer

Southeast population is the highest it's ever been…for most communities; Our weekly essay feature.



Please also read our clarification on our story from Jan. 30 below:


We told you the Bureau of Land Management had to reschedule public meetings this week in Skagway and Haines about the Ring of Fire Management plan.

BLM is working to re-evaluate the management plan for a parcel more than 300,000 acres of mountain terrain near the U.S. and Canada border northwest of Haines. The agency has come up with four options for the plan and has identified one of those as its preferred option.

However, The Haines Borough clarified on Thursday, it has NOT taken a position of any of the options. Borough Manager Mark Earnest did write an email that there may be some benefit to reopening  BLM land to heliskiing in reducing the concentration of heliskiing on state lands, which may have a benefit to the wildlife. But he has not taken a position on BLM’s preferred option. Neither has Haines mayor Stephanie Scott who said she was reserving judgment on any of the options until the public meetings were held.

Scott Sundberg of Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures says his company does support the BLM preferred option which would open the area to heliskiing and summer commercial helicopter operations. Sundberg wrote in a written statement that the BLM lands are remote, where activities like heliskiing, helicopter hiking and summer glacier trekking can thrive.

Sundberg said because there are already some goats collared and studied in the area, the goat control area should not remain closed to commercial activities, but instead BLM should study the collard goats to determine if there is a positive or negative interaction between he activity and goat populations.

Here is Sundberg’s complete statement:

“We support alternative D SEABA feels that all BLM lands should be open to Heliskiing and Summer Commercial Helicopter Operations. The BLM lands are very remote; the majority of the land is covered in glaciers, which is where most activities like heliskiing, helicopter hiking, and summer glacier trekking thrive.

SEABA feels that Alternative C comes a long way, but we feel that since Wildlife Conservation has a couple dozen goats collared through state and BLM lands, the goat control area that has existed for 6 years does not need to remain closed to commercial activities.

The BLM would be better off studying the collared goats to determine if there a positive or negative interaction between the activity and goat populations. SEABA also feels like there are healthy stable populations of mountain goat in many different drainages across the BLM land.

SEABA encourages people to submit comments to the BLM in support of alternative D.”

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