NCH 2012 Environmental Harm to the North Cascades /FOP connection to this Corperation

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Re: NCH 2012 Environmental Harm to the North Cascades /FOP connection to this Corperation

Post by pasayten »

Yep... any future post that mentions white bark pine from Fun_CH on a different subject thread will be moved to here...
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by mister_coffee »

I have a practical observation.

I understand the intention of reorganizing threads as they drift over time. My problem is that doing so removes context from what are potentially historical documents. So reconstructing what was actually said in response to what may well be impossible.

A lot of this comes down to the technological limitations of using bulletin board that really peaked in the late aughts, and in my view is tied to the rather tired LAMP platform family.

If we take Godwin's Law into account and assume optimum reorganization of threads, all we need is one giant thread about Hitler and Nazis and we'd be done.

These are just my opinions, and this is your board, Ray. You do you.
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Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

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place holder
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Fun CH »

When the Heli LZ (21 cuts site) on the "Bride " ridge first was discovered by Fred (not his real name) I had first assumed that the LZ site was cut in order to evacuate an injured guided client that I had heard about. At the time I was satisfied with mitigation measures that the Forest Service had developed through the 2002-2003 Environmental Assessment process. I had no ill feelings toward NCH or Paul Butler and thought it inconceivable that he would purposely cut trees to create a new landing site without Forest Service permission.

In fact, a friend of mine and I took Paul, a recent arrival to our area, on a ski tour, that telemark ski legend Steve Barnett had developed, called " "around the roo". A tour that starts at The Hairpin and goes around the back side of Kangaroo Ridge and back down at Willow Creek and West rib of Star Star to Hwy 20. I remember the conditions to be a bit firm on our first back side drop where Paul had a piece of his ski pole come apart after falling on it. I also remember the NCH helicopter contemplating a landing where we were transitioning for our final ski descent, but they flew off. Paul didn't own the NCH then, Randy Sackett was Ken Brooks partner in that business. I considered Paul a bro, which is the case when BC skiers have each others back on a shared risk ski tour. A Band of Brothers type thing.

This practice of showing people who are new to our area places to ski, and more importantly when it's safe to ski that terrain, is an ethic that I encountered from the very start of my off piste life here. That started when Eric Zahn, a Loop Loop volunteer ski patroller took me on a tour of the loop side country back in the winter of 1980-81. I was hooked and with more experience I would later on pass that giving ethic to many others new to our area. Three others I showed around often later became mountain guides, however I only ski toured with Paul, who later brought into two guide businesses, that one time.

So to continue.

I phoned Lori Dowie at the FS to inquire if that new 21 cuts LZ was cut for an emergency landing or if the FS had authorized a new Landing site. She "responded no, why do you ask?"

I told her about the site but I had not seen it yet. I wasn't able to download the photographs off of Fred's phone and he was in no shape to pursue the matter. He was grieving over the loss of a friend who had died in a tragic avalanche on the very same day that he had discovered the "21 cuts" LZ. That was the tragic Tunnel Creek Avalanche down at Stevens Pass.

https://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/s ... nnel-creek

Several days later I ski toured to the area with a friend and we each took photo's of that LZ. My friend Scotty (not his real name) was able to send those to Lori Dowie.

So the FS had delt with the issue as described in Marcy Stampers Methow Valley news article. I reported the results on Turns all year, posting photo's and relevant documents that I had received through a Freedom of Information Act request. Below are more of myTAY posts at the time. At the bottom of each post I write that the FS did a good job resolving the issue and that I am in favor of heli ski and guided touring.
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Jingles »

Upon further contemplation it reeks of selective enforcement / punishment as if an outfitter violates the rules they are fined severely and can even have their permits revoked.
A hypothetical ( well not so much) example if an outfitter or an employee uses a chainsaw to clear downed trees out of the trail they can (are) fined $250.00 per tree and can have the permit suspended for the year / revoked permantly
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Fun CH »

I couldn't find Marcy's MVN article concerning the incident but fortunately someone posted it on 'turns all year' and found on the way back machine archive of that site. This article contains quotes from the Paul Butler email that he sent to the Forest Service at their request to explain his actions. Note the description and number of White Park pine trees that were cut at "21 cuts".

Note, at this time NCH owners Paul Butler and Ken Brooks did not disclose to the Forest Service additional unauthorized cutting sites that would later be discovered by hikers (they also BC ski) and reported to the Forest Service.

Also note how the helicopter pilot is being thrown under the bus, even though Ken and Paul admitted to cutting trees in the email.

Click on the capture and it will become more clearer to read.
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Fun CH »

Here is the story of how it all went down. I was Freeski on "Turns all Year" and reported this incident at that BC skier web site. The area this 1st cut site was found by one solo skier was on a ridge in an area called "The Bride", hence the thread title "The Bride has been Violated".

My second post describes how one of the safety mitigation methods that the FS put in place to reduce the impact of the helicopter dropping skiers above BC skiers in avalanche terrain was that any new heli landing sites would have to be approved by the FS.

I, along with a small group of BC skiers participated in that 2002-2003 FS Environmental Assessment process in order to help form those safety mitigation measures.

At the time, Paul Butler didn't own NCH and may not have even been living in the valley in 2003. In 2012 after he acquired half ownership of that Corporation, NCH would be up there destroying fragile Ridge Top environments to create new helicopter landing sites without Forest Service approval.

I skied my first BC skier line in Spire Gulch back in the spring of 1981.
We called this 1st site '21 cuts' after the number of trees cut there.<br />Tap capture and it will be easier to read
We called this 1st site '21 cuts' after the number of trees cut there.
Tap capture and it will be easier to read
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Fun CH »

More quotes from Paul Butler. Here the heli-pilot is being blamed for the cutting. That was the story he told the FS after the first cut site was found. He said that cut site was an aberration. At that time, Paul and Ken failed to mention to the Forest Service other unauthorized cut sites that were later discovered by local hikers (they are also BC skiers) visiting the area around 6 months later. Ahhh, the second aberration.

From Wenatchee world article, quote

"Butler said the noncompliance is an aberation. “Aside from this blip, we stand by our reputation in the community, and our record, not only our safety record, but in how we conduct ourself” in the back country."

"He said the trees were mistakenly cut for a variety of reasons, including having a new pilot who worked on a similar operation in Alaska, where they were allowed to cut trees at landing sites for safety reasons."

He said in the past, they’ve been allowed to cut trees and branches in pick-up spots, usually in more heavily forested areas at the base of the runs. “I can guarantee we’ll be changing our approach to any sort of tree trimming in the future. We will now check with the Forest Service about any limb or tree we’re contemplating removing,” he said."

A &quot;blip&quot;
A "blip"
https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/loc ... c646f.html
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by dhop »

Mr. Butt-ler definitely deserved more than a slap on the wrist. I think the Ranger was really pissed off but didn’t want the valley’s economy to suffer.
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Fun CH »

Here is how the White Bark Pine tree folks viewed the illegal cutting of White Bark Pine trees by NCH. At the time those trees were listed as a sensitive species and now federally listed as threatened. Note that the recent Cedar Creek fire spared many of the White Bark Pine trees on the very same Ridge where NCH cut them down.

Yea, lets vote to give these folks control of our tax money (sarcasm).
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Re: Why I don't want the Butler family to control recreation tax dollars

Post by Jingles »

Just another example of different rules for those with and those without big bank accounts, and yes do we want people in charge of finances that can't follow the rules they agreed to in other endeavors
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NCH 2012 Environmental Harm to the North Cascades /FOP connection to this Corperation

Post by Fun CH »

As many know, Bo Thrasher is now co-chair of the FOP and may possibly be one of the first appointed, not elected, Metropolitan Park District board commissioners if proposition 1 passes in November. She is married to North Cascade Heli ski owner Paul Butler and of course has a vested interest in that Corporation.

In Wenatchee World article posted below, you will read a brief summary of what occurred in 2012. There are factual errors in Mr. Butlers quotes. I was involved in reporting Mr Butler and co owner Ken Brooks to the Forest Service as were many other Backcountry skiers who were witness to this environmental destruction by NCH. There were more than three of us as was stated by Mr. Butler and what he obviously wanted the public to believe.

Mr Butler states that this illegal cutting was done for "safety". Of course you want to cut trees for safety for a helicopter to land, however none of these cut sites were authorized by the forest service to be cut in the first place. Asking permission to develop new heli Landing sites is a requirement of the NCH special use permit and clearly stated on his permit and the 2003 FS Environmental Assessment that allowed for an increase in user days.

We have to ask do we really want to Trust our tax dollars to millionaires who have this past history of abusing our North Cascade Mountains and violating the public Trust? I don't think so, not me, never. I shutter to think that Paul and Bo could be Metropolitan Park District board commissioners in control of our tax dollars.

"Probation for heli-skiing outfit that illegally cut trees
K.C. Mehaffey Oct 11, 2012

WINTHROP — North Cascades Heli-Skiing’s operating permit is in a probationary status after owners of the Mazama-based company admitted to cutting down or topping a few dozen high elevation trees on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest last winter to make helicopter landing safer.

The Methow Valley Ranger District also warned that any new violations will result in further action which “could include removing areas from your permit or terminating your permit,” an Oct. 3 letter from District Ranger Michael Liu to owners Paul Butler and Ken Brooks said.

Several other new requirements were also outlined in the letter, including weekly reports with GPS coordinates of each helicopter landing, submitting yearly operation plans instead of one every five years, and getting certification so a Forest Service permit administrator can fly in the company’s helicopter to inspect operations.

The company will also have to pay for damages and restoration of the sites where trees were cut, but no costs have yet been determined.

North Cascades Heli-Skiing has a permit to take skiers into high elevations of the North Cascades between Dec. 1 and April 30, for a maximum of 1,050 total skiers. A full day of skiing, including a minimum of seven runs, costs $985 per skier, according to the company’s website.

Butler said the Forest Service letter is pretty straightforward, and he has no comments on it.

He said his helicopter skiing outfit has a great relationship with the many back-country skiers who share the high mountain skiing in the areas along Highway 20 west of Mazama. “Except for three. Three of them, out of how many there may be,” he said.

The company first received a notice of non-compliance in March after back-country skiers reported that three snags and 21 trees — most of them whitebark pines — had been topped or cut down on a 6,800-foot ridge between Varden Creek and Silver Star Creek. Some of the slow-growing trees were hundreds of years old. Hikers and skiers later reported additional areas where trees were cut.


“The fact that you did not disclose this additional cutting and trimming at the March 30th meeting further compounds the non-compliance, and calls into question other aspects of your operations,” Liu’s letter states.

The letter also clarifies other aspects of the helicopter skiing operation’s permit, including that guides and clients must stay within authorized run locations, that the company is not authorized to take clients to the bottom of runs on snowmobiles, and that its permit to use the Barron yurt is for ski touring only.

“I think they took appropriate action, and I’m really glad they cleared up a few other points,” said Matt Firth, a longtime back-country skier from Twisp who regularly uses the area where trees were cut.

He added, “I do hope this hasn’t created any permanent friction between the communities of backcountry skiers and heli-skiers.”




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Last edited by Fun CH on Tue Nov 28, 2023 6:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding--Nick Lowe
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