The U.S. Forest Service has granted a five-year permit for heli-skiing despite the protests of some Kenai Peninsula residents concerned about increased air traffic and possible wildlife disturbances.
The permits allow Chugach Powder Guides to use helicopters to drop skiers in 160,000 acres of hard-to-access backcountry terrain through 2010, said owner Chris Owens. The company also received new one-year permits for about another 100,000 acres.
Heli-skiing has been a part of Alaska's growing outdoor-adventure economy for more than 10 years, but the industry has been tied to the annual permits. The heli-skiing season runs from February through mid-April.