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Tree cutting by heli-skiing outfit criticized

MAZAMA, Wash. — Officials say numerous high elevation trees – some of them apparently hundreds of years old – were cut down or topped in the North Cascades last winter by a Mazama-based helicopter skiing company.

The Wenatchee World reports that the Methow Valley Ranger District says North Cascade Heli-Skiing cut the trees to create safer helicopter landing sites. But the company was not authorized to remove vegetation in its permit to bring skiers into high elevations on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Backcountry skiers reported two more areas where trees were cut after the Forest Service met with the company and issued a notice of noncompliance for one of the sites in March.

Paul Butler, one of the owners of the helicopter company, has apologized for the mistake and expects the permit will be placed on probation.

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