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Thread: Seldovia Goats and new Heli Skiing Operation

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    Default Seldovia Goats and new Heli Skiing Operation

    Today a fellow coworker shared this letter with me, it was mailed to him with no return adress and signed "Seldovia".

    "Dear Fellow Hunter,

    This letter is to inform you of the current facts affecting the mountain goat population around Seldovia and the southern peninsula which greatly affects the population and ability to harvest.

    A helicopter operation from Colorado during summer of 2012 has decided to run an exploratory helicopter ski operation out of Seldovia for a couple of years to see if it is economically viable due of a convenience to accessible firefighting helicopters that are not being used during late winter. They have been actively marketing nationwide and in Europe claiming 398,000 acres using up to 4 helicopters guaranteeing 100,000 vertical feet per customer per week, booking for 25 guests per week beginning operation in late Feb. 2013.

    The truth is that they can currently only operate on DNR lands around Seldovia of about 30,000 acres with vertical drops between 700'-1500'. This means tremendous pressure directly in this goat population. Currently DNR has decided to let it run for now considering landing a helicopter on public lands a generally allowed use requiring only a 15.00 fee but is starting to become alarmed realizing this is beyond what can be reasonably called general use. Fish and Game's report clearly states high negative impacts from helicopters and recommends protecting critical kidding and habitat zones from commercial helicopter use most importantly during winter before any permits are allowed. DNR has not yet taken into account the volume this operator intends. DNR can and will change this policy if enough public brings it to their attention. They can set aside critical habitat, sensitive kidding areas, limit flight lines and landing areas which to date has not been done. Recovery is incredibly slow and the loss of habitat with its results is very sudden. Preventative precautions are necessary and far more effective.

    If you want to protect your ability to hunt in this region for present and future generations it is absolutely imperative that you call the land managers now and ask for protection for the goat population before damage is done and this area is closed to hunting for an indefinite time.

    DNR Commissioner Daniel Sullivan, Daniel.sullivan@alaska.gov 907.269.8431

    Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell, cora.campbell@alaska.gov 907.465.4100

    Thank you,

    Seldovia"


    Has anyone else gotten this letter? Your thoughts?

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    This is interesting but what about the goats in the Chugach that Chugach Powder Guides compete with?

    http://kenaiheliski.com/about/seldovia/

  3. #3

    Default Re: Seldovia Goats and new Heli Skiing Operation

    Ski terrain isn't really goat terrain. As skiers we're looking for long steep slopes with lots of snow. Realistically these are areas goats avoid, too much snow makes forage impossible and to much energy to get around. I've done loads of backcountry skiing in the chugach powder guides area and I think I've only encountered 2 goats.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    You should talk to some of the Haines folks and abuse by heli-skiing
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Quote Originally Posted by chugachjed View Post
    Ski terrain isn't really goat terrain. As skiers we're looking for long steep slopes with lots of snow. Realistically these are areas goats avoid, too much snow makes forage impossible and to much energy to get around. I've done loads of backcountry skiing in the chugach powder guides area and I think I've only encountered 2 goats.
    Rather than competition between skiers and goats for specific slopes, wouldn't it be the amount of helicopter activity over a general area that would drive goats out? Could this be why you have only encountered two goats?

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Default Seldovia Goats and new Heli Skiing Operation

    Stupid goats. Messin up my pow turns. Booyah!
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Default Re: Seldovia Goats and new Heli Skiing Operation

    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Rather than competition between skiers and goats for specific slopes, wouldn't it be the amount of helicopter activity over a general area that would drive goats out? Could this be why you have only encountered two goats?
    Points north in Cordova operates in serious goat country. Similar location to seldovia, have there been impact studies there? They've been operating for something like ten years.

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    Member mod elan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chugachjed View Post
    Ski terrain isn't really goat terrain. As skiers we're looking for long steep slopes with lots of snow. Realistically these are areas goats avoid, too much snow makes forage impossible and to much energy to get around. I've done loads of backcountry skiing in the chugach powder guides area and I think I've only encountered 2 goats.
    Quote Originally Posted by chugachjed View Post
    Points north in Cordova operates in serious goat country. Similar location to seldovia, have there been impact studies there? They've been operating for something like ten years.
    Contradicting yourself a bit. On one hand you say goat country and ski country are different. Then you state an operator is working in "serious goat country"?

    I know areas where mining operations have to stick to a certain flight path agreed upon with the local villages so as not to run the game out of the country. There is still debate as to whether it still affects the animals.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Seldovia Goats and new Heli Skiing Operation

    Quote Originally Posted by mod elan View Post
    Contradicting yourself a bit. On one hand you say goat country and ski country are different. Then you state an operator is working in "serious goat country"?

    I know areas where mining operations have to stick to a certain flight path agreed upon with the local villages so as not to run the game out of the country. There is still debate as to whether it still affects the animals.
    Not really a contradiction, they're not skiing where the goats are they're skiing further inland onto glaciers but have to fly over the goats to get there. IME goats tend to stay on south facing slopes adjacent to water during the winter.

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    I don't see the skiers as being the issue but all the noise from the helicopters. One would think that animals would eventually adjust to it all and it would not bother them but I doubt anyone has done any studies on the subject.

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    I really don't know what to make of it all. My dad has a place off of the jackalof road system and while i have never goat hunted the area i definitely plan on it some time in the future. I am also an avid backcountry skiier and from the beginning this heli op has seemed a little strange. I have seen some of their adds in major ski magazines showing mountains that are clearly not in the area, or anywhere in Alaska for that matter. Maybe we can blackmail for a free heli ski trip.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Actually helicopter impacts (from heliskiing and mining operations) have been studies several times in BC, Alberta, and Alaska, just doing a quick search.

    http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/36726/PDF
    http://srd.alberta.ca/FishWildlife/W...Oct30-2010.pdf
    http://web.unbc.ca/~michael/Pubs/Cad..._Sept_2012.pdf
    Google "mountain goat helicopter impacts"
    Apparently an article by Cote, S.D. 1996. "Mountain goat responses to helicopter disturbance." (which I could not find electronically) describes research on Caw Ridge, Alberta, and has been one of the definitive references for management. This report recommended maintaining a 2000 m (1.24 mile) buffer around goat habitat to minimize impacts.

    General consensus doing a quick skim of the exec summaries and conclusions is that helicopters do disturb goats (no surprise there), through the response time is typically pretty short. The thesis from BC (3rd link) found that goats were not displaced (i.e. they did not permanently abandon range) by helicopters. Stresses from repeated disturbance may have detrimental health effects (increased stress, more time in escape terrain=poorer feed, etc.) as one would expect.

    In Southeast AK, management stands (as reported in the 1st link):Aircraft on the TNF and CNF are expected to maintain a minimum landing distance of 805 m from all observed mountain goats (United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service 1997, 2002). While flying, aircraft are required to maintain a 500-m minimum vertical distance from all observed goats.

    For the short duration of the heliski season, I doubt there'd be a major impact. It's pretty easy to put a GPS in a helicopter and track flight paths. Shouldn't be that difficult for ADF&G to lay out key goat winter range and have impacts minimized/flights avoid those areas. My $.02.

    Cheers,
    Rich

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    I got that letter, but I think I'm a bit more cynical. I don't think the letter from Seldovia is about the goats at all. It is about the fact Seldovia doesn't want the skiiers there.

    There were a couple things in that letter I didn't like. First, it wasn't addressed to me, but to "fellow hunter". Second, it wasn't dated and had no return address on the envelope, (both poor form), but most importantly, it wasn't even signed, and the signature line was "Seldovia". Seldovia who? City? Seldovia Village Tribe? Seldovia Native Association Inc? Concerned citizen? Who do I reply to?

    My opinion is that I think the letter came from SNA. I think they don't like the skiing operation, but decided to try to get the hunters to fight the operation "on the goats' behalf". Remember, SNA isn't exactly "hunter friendly" if you aren't a shareholder. $150/DAY for black bear permit and $2000/DAY for brown bear permit. And, you have to agree to a post-hunt interview in town.

    "Hunting Use Permit Holders agree to a post season interview at the Seldovia Native Association, Inc. office in Seldovia, Alaska to review hunter success, game habitat, game locations and game status."

    All of that is within their rights as private land holders, but it is an important backstory to the letter. To think SNA is concerned about our ability to hunt goats on state and federal land on the Kenai is a bit naive.

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    Oh, one thing I forgot. Thomas with ADFG in Homer seems to have pretty good handle on the goat situation on the Kenai. I talked to him a couple years ago when I had drawn a permit (which is how Seldovia got our addresses by the way) and he really seemed pretty knowledgeable. If anyone wants to know what he thinks of the heliskiing and goats, call him at 235-8191. I plan on calling him and writing a letter back to "Seldovia" and sending it to the city, tribe, and SNA.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chugachjed View Post
    Points north in Cordova operates in serious goat country. Similar location to seldovia, have there been impact studies there? They've been operating for something like ten years.
    Seldovia goat country is not the same as Cordova; look at the numbers. There's a reason they only give out 10 permits a year, and are trying to limit the take of nannies. It's a marginal population, and choppers pounding the skies like "INCOMING!!!" on M*A*S*H won't help, IMO. That said, the heli operation has been a boon to Seldovia's economy at a time it's sorely needed. Same old story.
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
    Oh, one thing I forgot. Thomas with ADFG in Homer seems to have pretty good handle on the goat situation on the Kenai. I talked to him a couple years ago when I had drawn a permit (which is how Seldovia got our addresses by the way) and he really seemed pretty knowledgeable. If anyone wants to know what he thinks of the heliskiing and goats, call him at 235-8191. I plan on calling him and writing a letter back to "Seldovia" and sending it to the city, tribe, and SNA.
    Thomas is now our area moose research biologist. Our new area management bio is Jason Herreman and any queries regarding goat management will go to him. He is a sharp guy, and we are quite fortunate that he is Thomas's replacement.
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    Member danmiotke's Avatar
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    I received the same letter and happen to run into Thomas the other evening asked him if he thought the skiing operations might have a negative influence on the lower peninsula goat populations. He agreed with letter and thought the helicopter traffic could have negative impact.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    The area in question......
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    The area in question......
    Is that up by the chrome mine? Is that your mauser you lugged up there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Is that up by the chrome mine? Is that your mauser you lugged up there?
    Next drainage over, and that's my 760
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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