KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A pilot has been fined for landing a helicopter in a federally protected wilderness area in Montana.
Samuel L. Schwerin, 48, landed his helicopter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex May 16, The Daily Inter Lake reports.
The Bozeman resident was fined and has paid the maximum $500 penalty for the violation, which is a federal misdemeanor, the Montana Department of Justice said in a statement.
The complex in Northwestern Montana, also known as The Bob, is the third largest wilderness in the continental U.S., according to the website of The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation.
Witnesses said they saw the helicopter on a gravel sand bar on the South Fork of the Flathead River, where a couple was fishing.
Federal Aviation Administration records identify the aircraft as a Bell Rotocraft helicopter owned by WOS Holding IV of Belgrade. The company is principally owned by Sara Schwerin.
Federal law prohibits use of motorized or mechanical transport in the wilderness with the exception of an airstrip at Schafer Meadows in the Great Bear Wilderness.
“We take concerns about the proper use of our national forests and wilderness areas very seriously,” Flathead National Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele said in a statement.