Helicopter skiing proposal would hurt quality of life

In Homer we are blessed with an unusual share of beauty and tranquility, qualities that are rapidly fading from much of the world. While money is important to our community, it is not the reason most of us choose to live here. There is increasing pressure to sell our “natural resources,” without consideration of the real cost. It is an illusion to believe that the intrinsic value of wilderness can be quantified. While mountains can be converted to cash, the equation is not reversible. If we do not wisely restrain “development” of remote areas, there may soon be no such places.  

The Department of Natural Resources has received “multiple applications” to operate commercial helicopter skiing operations in Kachemak Bay State Park and Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park. This would probably lead to summer activities as well. The noise of helicopters could soon be a year-around part of our lives and the experience of those visiting or living across the bay. Is this really in our community’s best interests? 

According to11 AAC 18.025 c, for permits to be issued, the following conditions must be met: 

1. Park facilities and natural and cultural resources will not be adversely affected; 

2. The state park is protected from pollution; 

3. Public use values of the state park will be maintained and protected; and, 

4. The public safety, health and welfare will not be adversely affected. 

In our opinion this proposal is at variance with the first three of these qualifications. The noise and the pollution of air quality created by helicopters, and the intrusion they represent, substantially degrades the character of the wilderness experience as well the serenity of local communities. 

Homer has a tradition of choosing thoughtful practices that add quality to our lives and value to our planet. This proposal would lead to a substantial decrease in life quality for residents and for visitors coming to experience natural beauty of our unique environment. 

Your comments must received by project coordinator, Pamela Russell, by Nov. 19. Mail to: pamela.russell@alaska.gov or call 907-714-2471.

Wishing you joy and peace, 

Jean Aspen and Tom Irons