I'm sure you are all anxious to hear the latest news on the ice climbing community actions regarding the Gallatin National Forest Travel Plan. Quite a lot has been going on behind the scenes but we are still up against the wall and are required to make a formal appeal which is due February 1, 2007.
In a nutshell, the Forest indicated to Bill Murdock (County Commissioner and long time ice climber) they may be willing to reach a discretionary compromise without an appeal as it is in the Supervisor's authority to do so. Encouraged by these overtures, several of us spent many, many hours of coalition building with other user groups and developed a clear and simple plan requiring only minor "tweaks" to the Record of Decision (ROD); one which would have solved most of the concerns ice climbers have over future access to Hyalite Canyon.
On January 12th, Bill Dockins, Bill Murdock, Sean Becker (City Commissioner and ice climber) and I along with several representatives of other user groups had a meeting with the most of the Gallatin Forest administration (seven total including Supervisor Becki Heath) and although they claim to be "listening" and are "very pleased" to see joint efforts between user groups, it is very clear they are happy with, if not proud of, the ROD and will resist any changes tooth and nail.
Needless to say, many of us are now fired up.
Fortunately, we have also been working on the official appeal process although it now needs to kick into high gear. Immediate concerns are determining who can be appellants, which is something of a frustrating, moving target. That is, what the regulations state versus who the Forest Service claims can be an official appellant is not entirely clear.
The Access Fund and The Wilderness Society have been helping us sort through the legal and writing processes of the appeal. To my knowledge, several people have already volunteered to be appellants: Peter Aengst, Pat Callis, and Chris Naumann.
If this administrative appeal process does not work then our only option would be litigation along with the huge costs involved (50K or more).A CALL TO ACTION
So what can be done right now? JOIN or RENEW NOW
Although the initial appeal process does not require full legal counsel and will not be too expensive, there have been (and will be) some financial costs.
Most importantly, an quality appeal will require a certain level of legal research to create the strongest case possible. As the Forest said, "The responsibility is to prove us (the F.S.) wrong. And we don't want to be wrong." They actually said that.
Our own, Bill Dockins has been a huge asset volunteering his time and expertise but he can not do it alone and we will need to hire some help.
If you are not already a member of the South West Montana Climbers Coalition (SMCC) or the ACCESS FUND, please JOIN NOW
. If you are a member but haven't sent in a renewal in recent memory, PLEASE RENEW NOW!Visit the Access Fund at:http://www.accessfund.org/
Additional Information on joining the SMCC can be found at:http://www.montanaclimbers.org/memberships.htmlOR, pay with a credit card at:http://www.firstascentpress.com/buy.html
(I personally donate all the credit card merchant expenses so the entire membership fee goes to the SMCC)Fundraising
Any additional contributions or fundraising ideas are encouraged.
Anyone interested in helping local fundraising efforts please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll forward the information.Ice Climbing Survey:
If you haven't done so already, please fill out the ice climbing survey at http://www.hyalitecanyon.com
. PLEASE, take a few minutes of your time and spread the word.
Here is a direct link.http://www.surveymonkey.com/Users/155540..._COPY_THIS_LINKLetters to the Editor:
I really want to thank all the NW climbers that have taken the time to write letters. I would encourage everyone else to write a letter to the editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (refer to http://bozemandailychronicle.com/webmaster/
for details). No one knows exactly how this might help but a full court press in the court of public opinion can't hurt.
I can't suggest what to say nor would I suggest you simply rephrase anything else that has been published already. Write from your heart and specific to your own experience and needs. Suggestions on what the Forest Service should do are not needed. Write about how this personally affects you.Letter Writing Campaign:
At some point, we will probably need to launch a letter writing campaign to our state and federal representatives. Anyone willing to spearhead this at the WA, ID, OR level should contact me.Additional Help:
Moving forward, the biggest steps you can do to help right now are the ones listed above and spreading the word to all your local climbing friends and partners. As the February 1st deadline approaches, I am certain many additional tasks will reveal themselves. Please stay posted and active.
Thank you all in advance for your time, energy and support.
Please stay posted.