Heli-ski operator signs plea deal in land-use case

ANCHORAGE — A Haines helicopter ski operation has agreed to plead guilty to unauthorized use of federal land.

The U.S. attorney’s office, in a bill of information filed Monday, said Southeast Backcountry Adventures used land it knew was closed to commercial activity for a March helicopter ski trip. Prosecutors said the company operated in the closed area for much of its 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Steward told the Anchorage Daily News the case came to light after the death of a skier on March 3.

The plea agreement was signed before the holidays but publicly filed in court Monday. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21 in Anchorage.

A guide who answered the company’s phone Wednesday said company officials planned to discuss releasing a statement.

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