Illegal helicopter trespass in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Illegal helicopter trespass in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

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Hungry Horse News reported, “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.”

Sara and Sam Schwerin, owners of the helicopter, violated The Wilderness Act and recommended FAA regulations. When questioned by the horsemen Sam Schwerin stated, “We are below the high water line. It’s OK. Please move along ….” Did the Schwerins intend to challenge which law supersedes the other? The Wilderness Act, a federal law, or the Montana Stream Protection Act, a state law?

There have been illegal helicopter landings at Upper Rumble Lake on the Swan Front. It is “recommended” wilderness and managed as such until a final determination is made. The Forest Service subsequently issued a special order to prohibit future landings. The same should be done to cover illegal landings in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The Forest Service could have confiscated the helicopter and if wilderness trespassers are found guilty, it goes up for public auction. There should be more serious consequences for this blatant, arrogant action. A minuscule $500 fine just gives them bragging rights.

Kari Gunderson

Swan Valley

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