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Wolverines could halt backcountry ski business

COEUR D’ALENE – An environmental analysis must be done before a new permit can be issued to a backcountry ski operator hoping to use tracked vehicles to take clients into the St. Joe Mountains in northern Idaho, the Bureau of Land Management says.

BLM spokeswoman Stephanie Snook said the area is known habitat for wolverines, classified as a sensitive species by the agency.

Carey and Ryan Stanley said they bought Peak Adventures, which had been operating in the area for 17 years, last year with the plan of renewing the company’s permit to operate the backcountry ski business on 13,000 acres of public land.

They said they spoke with the BLM first about wolverines.

“We invested our life savings into this,” Carey Stanley told The Spokesman-Review, noting they also bought a new $90,000 tracked vehicle. “We feel like we were in some sense raked by the government.”

But Snook said the agency has to determine if commercial use of the area is still compatible with the agency’s objectives adopted in 2007.

She said the expiration of the old permit caused the new review to be necessary. The permit application by the Stanleys asks to used tracked vehicles off established roads.

“We felt there was a lot of potential in north Idaho,” Carey Stanley said. “It’s pretty unexplored and pretty remote. And it’s coming up (nationally) on skiers’ radar.”

Snook noted the BLM has acquired more land in the area since the last permit.

“The wolverine issue is not a new issue,” Snook said. “It’s been an issue since 1995, when Peak Adventures’ (previous owners) wanted to run a heli-skiing operation.”

The agency rejected that request.

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