Helicopter owners should face serious consequences

| June 17, 2020 7:07 AM

The Hungry Horse News reported that, “Two horsemen on a recent trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness said they found something they never expected: A couple fishing on a sandbar of the South Fork of the Flathead after allegedly landing a helicopter there.” It was May 16, the opening day of fishing season. The owner of the helicopter, Sara Schwerin, is a former NYC banking executive now living in Montana. When questioned by the horsemen “what makes you think that’s OK to park in the Wilderness?” Sam Schwerin stated “we are below the high water line. It’s OK. Please move along ….”

Privilege and entitlement if you’re rich enough.

Did the Schwerins purposely intend to challenge which law supersedes the other? The Wilderness Act, a federal law, or the Montana Stream Protection Act, a state law? In years past we’ve had problems with illegal helicopter landings at Upper Rumble Lake on the Swan Front. It is “recommended” wilderness and is supposed to be managed as such until a final determination is made. The Forest Service then issued a special order to prohibit such landings. If this is necessary to prevent future private helicopter landings in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, then it should be expedited.

The Schwerins violated The Wilderness Act of 1964 and recommended FAA regulations. Mechanized and motorized equipment are not allowed in federally designated wilderness. In some wilderness areas the Forest Service confiscates snowmobiles and if the wilderness trespassers are found guilty then the snowmobile goes up for public auction. I would like to see this happen to the Schwerin helicopter. There should be serious consequences for this blatant, arrogant action and the outcome is more than a slap on the back of their hands or a minuscule fine that will instead give them bragging rights.

Kari Gunderson

Swan Valley