North Cascade Heli-Skiing has once again gotten themselves into some hot water with the Methow Valley Ranger District for cutting down dozens of trees to create safer helicopter landing sites. North Cascades Heli-Skiing has a permit to take skiers on to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest west of Mazama into the high elevations of the North Cascades between Dec. 1 and April 30. What they don’t have is a permit to remove vegetation and down trees.
This past winter some local backcountry skiers notified the Forest Service of a spot where two dozen trees had been cut down by North Cascade Heli-Skiing. In response, the Forest Service issued a notice of noncompliance and left it at that. However, additional reports of two more areas where trees were cut down came in this summer adding to the seriousness of the permit violation and prompting a visit from the Forest Service to North Cascade Heli-Skiing.
The Forest Service will reveal what additional action will be taken after the company is notified in writing, likely next week. Paul Butler, one of the owners of the helicopter company, has apologized for the mistake and expects the permit will be placed on probation. What that means that this time is still unclear.