Travel Plan Update- Dec. 14 meeting with Forest Service

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/15/2006 - 08:39

Ice Climbers, A group of climbers consisting of SMCC representatives, business owners, and longtime Bozeman climbers met with Forest Service officials on Thursday Dec. 14 to discuss the recently published Forest Travel Plan and its impact on ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon. We were able to glean some information from the Forest Service. Some of that information is listed below in the format of pages 102-104 from the detailed description document. My comments are in [i][color=red]italics[/color][/i]. Please bear in mind that the comment period is over. This Travel Plan, which goes into effect 2007/2008 is pretty much a done deal. That does not lessen the fact, however, that we were blindsided by the Forest Planners and their extreme deviation from the previous preferred plan (Preferred Plan, Alternative #7 called for plowing to Chisholm CG and ungated access from there). Our only recourse now is to appeal for slight modifications. The appeals process, should climbers choose to go that route, will be long, costly and without guarantees. The Travel Planners have made it clear that "family-oriented cross-country skiing" takes precedence over ice climbing and other winter activities. The Travel Planners also state a desire to maximize recreation opportunities on Forest lands. Our best bet (in my opinion) might be to work with skiers, snowmobilers, other user groups and the F.S. to find a realistic compromise to reestablish our vehicular access beyond the dam. The climbing community by nature has never been short on energy and professional expertise. If anyone has particular insight or skills that they can bring to the table during the appeals process, please let me know. The Access Fund, SMCC or any other organization cannot "rescue" climbers from this demise. We all need to pitch in. That includes those who profit directly from climbing in Hyalite Canyon. In the meantime, let's use this forum as a place not only to express our frustrations, but also to present real solutions that might be used during the appeal. I ask this because Travel Planners will likely view this link during the appeals process. I have condensed the Hyalite documents and Map and listed them here for download purposes. I ask that you take a moment to read them over. I look forward to your comments. The snowmobiler group has invited climbers to join them in meeting with Forest Supervisors on Monday, Dec. 18, 6:30 at the Gran Tree Inn in Bozeman. To date, no official alliance has been formed between climbers and snowmobilers. However, this meeting might provide insight into what we are up against. It might also be a little entertaining. Now all of you get out there and climb, Climb, CLIMB! Maybe we can keep the road open all winter! Cheers, Tom Kalakay SMCC Executive Director HYALITE WINTER TRAVEL PLAN (from pgs. 102-104 detailed travel plan) A. Travel Area Goals, Objectives, Standards and Guidelines GOAL 1: (covers summer use) GOAL 2: Winter Recreation Use. Provide for a variety of winter recreation opportunities with an emphasis on family-oriented cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. [i][color=red]The F.S. does not plan to groom or maintain any of the proposed ski trails. Travel planners "speculated" that a skier user-group would step forward and offer to do so. [/color][/i] OBJ. 2-1: Achieve the winter recreation opportunities identified in GOAL 2 through the marked and groomed route management decisions made through this Travel Plan. Any future proposals to change the uses specified should be done in consideration of the targeted recreation setting to be provided [see the ?Recreation Opportunity Spectrum? (ROS) map for winter uses (October, 2006)] which is hereby incorporated by reference. OBJ. 2-2: Improve winter passenger vehicle access through the Hyalite Canyon to access winter recreation opportunities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and fishing. [i][color=red]The intent is to plow the road to the reservoir, yet funding is currently not available. Inadequate funding would likely result in road closures at Langhor or lower in the canyon. The Hyalite road will be gated at Hyalite reservoir or wherever plowing stops after Dec. 31. After Dec. 31 ice climbers have 3 options: 1) ski to climbs from the reservoir or where ever the road is gated down low 2) use a convoluted snowmobile access trail beginning at Moser Creek (Snowmobile access cannot begin at the reservoir nor can it use any of the existing road system.) or 3) stay home In many years vehicular access to Grotto Falls trailhead has lasted well into February and even March. It is estimated that over 80% of Hyalite climbers would be shut out by closing the road (i.e., they shun the long ski or do not have access to snowmobiles). Thus, after Dec. 31 the entire Hyalite drainage is essentially closed to all other user groups except family-oriented cross country skiers. Does this sound like multiple use and maximizing forest recreation to you?[/color][/i] OBJ. 2-3: Provide loop trails for family-oriented day-use skiing. [i][color=red]The currently listed ski trails make little use of the existing ski trail network. In fact, the proposed snowmobile route lies on top of existing ski trails. The route obliterates over 1/2 of trails cut and maintained for the last 25 years by Bridger Ski Club/BSF-nordic. I know because I helped build and maintain these trails. The Hyalite road segment from Blackmore trailhead to Grotto Falls and Palisade Falls trailheads, our main artery to climbing, has never been part of the ski trail system. The F.S. speculates that this will become part of the system and therefore should be closed to vehicular travel after Dec. 31 each year.[/color][/i] OBJ. 2-4: Provide ski trail connectors to the Bozeman Creek and Cottonwood Creek drainages for more advanced skiers.