Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two Down

The Charade Begins
join in if you choose
Courtesy Photo: THE MOOSE - 96
.. It's apparent that quite a few folks are interested in the possible proposed actions for regulating recreation on the Madison River.
.. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has already determined that:
.. Two public meetings have been held, (Ennis & Bozeman.). Two more are scheduled, (February 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM in West Yellowstone, MT at the Holiday Inn ==> 315 Yellowstone Avenue,  AND  March 1, 2012 at 6:00 PM in Whitehall, MT at the Whitehall High School ==> 1 Yellowstone Trail.)
..This is not a surprise move. This has been in the works for at least five years. The action has come to this point after careful preparation and savvy maneuvering by a few influential citizens and the staff of MFWP. You can read the first shots fired across the river:
1.) 2008 Madison River Resident Angler Survey, (PDF.)
2.) 2008 Madison River Landowner Survey, (PDF.)
3.) 2009 Madison River Onsite Survey, (PDF.)
4.) 2010 Madison River Angling Pressure Estimates, (PDF.)
.. While apparently laudable in it's conception and execution to date, one dares not ask about the impetus for the current action.
.. We make the following observations, & bring some questions to the fore:
A,] We are well along in the regulatory decision process. This is near the end not the beginning,
B,] Regulatory agencies stay in business by making and enforcing regulations,
C,] Verbal input at public meetings is interesting and entertaining: if you are serious about having your concerns addressed write them down and give them to the public employees running the meeting. Get their names and contact information. Keep in contact with them about your concerns being included for consideration.
D,] Just what is the meaning of: ". . . affected the quality of recreational experience . . ."? Is this a scientific investigation? Is this a resource impact issue? Are regulations aimed at protecting a resource that is within the province of the MFWP? Is individual recreation a Montana resource?
E,] Informal meetings, closed-door meetings, personal and group lobbying, and continued contact with public employees, (including elected officials,) have always been more effective than the "show-and-tell" gatherings around the region.
E,] Circumvention of regulations and regulatory processes is an American pastime. Folks and groups with the money, time and inclination are far more successful at this than folks without money, or time, or involved commitment.
F,] Regulatory agencies and their regulators have a mind set that leans towards restriction rather than enablement. ((For instance: restricting usage of a boat ramp rather than expanding the facility to satisfy demand.))
G.] Although apparently transparent the decision-making process is a slippery and secretive endeavor. It takes place in the minds of humans - 'nuff said !!
H.] It's well worth reading the MFWP "Administrative Rules for River Recreation Management" (PDF.) It is also well worth your time, (if you choose to participate in any meaningful way in the decision-making process,) to make your concerns address this document. Your case will be far stronger and decisions that are exceptions to these rules will need to be very well justified.
I,] Please be assured that new regulations will be promulgated. Know that the instigators of this action have been working for half a decade on getting their concerns addressed.
J,] If you desire participation in this arena remember that you are playing catch up, and you are out-gunned by money, influence, and connections. You can have your say - - it's just very tough !
K.] If you can't attend a meeting, (more importantly even if you do,) fill out the online questionnaire. Find it HERE.  Everyone interested should fill out the questionnaire. It's not good enough for your fishing buddy to voice both his and your concerns. It's not good enough to attend a meeting and not fill out the questionnaire.
.. The showcase element of this decision-making process is the "MADISON RIVER CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEE, (MCAC.)" This is an interesting bit of window dressing and as noted by the MFWP:
The MCAC serves in an advisory capacity. While the role of the committee is critically important, there is no guarantee that the Final Plan will follow the committee’s recommendations. The FWP Commission is the final decision-maker and shall consider the recommendations of the MCAC, the best available information, the environmental analysis, and input from the public and staff.
.. Should we add influential and monied interests as well? Do you know who is on the FWP Commission? When was the last time you spoke with them and voiced a concern about the Madison River?
.. Should you be intrigued with the workings of this current process you can apply to be on the MCAC. (Application HERE.) Then, again, how much time are you willing to spend to have your recommendations considered and not followed?

P.S. Don't tell anyone about this post