About 30 people turned out Friday evening in the Whitehall middle school cafeteria for the last of FWP’s scoping meetings tied to the Madison River Recreation Management Planning process (MRRMPP).
It was a much calmer, reasoned get-together compared to Tuesday’s meeting in West Yellowstone. Following the now-familiar routine, FWP staffers Horton, Sperry and Morris outlined the history of social use on the Madison and the process involved in the MRRMPP. Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) members asked Horton if the fishery was harmed by popularity – no – and if the social issues had escalated to severe problem levels – again, no.
Some new topics arose: “What’s the nature of the consensus process as the ‘decision engine’ for the MRRMPP?” Sperry detailed his history with consensus, and FWP Commissioner Dan Vermillion noted the importance of the consensus process in the archery controversy in the Bull mountain area. Scott, an angler from Butte, added that consensus is one reason for the Big Hole Watershed group’s on-going success working out issues among their members.
“How will FWP select the facilitator for the process?” Sperry explained that FWP’s Region 3 will put out a request for a facilitator later in March. Scott weighed in again, emphasizing that a qualified facilitator is key to working out the various interest’s points of view in the management planning.
“What is FWP’s role in the Citizen’s Advisory Committee?” Once more, Sperry tackled the answer: FWP will probably be part of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) made up of various agency staffers who will monitor the technical and social feasibility, legality, affordability and enforceability of the CAC’s recommendations. Charlie went on to advise that FWP staff be cautious and not allow personal or ‘departmental’ values to color the TAC’s comments or suggestions.
“Will the applications for the CAC be made public?” FWP: “Probably not, unless the individual CAC selectees agree to have their application’s made public.” Of course, Sperry added, those chosen for the CAC will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.
So, some important process details were added to the repeated suggestion to relieve pressure by opening more stretches to floatfishing and a continued call for more user information were the core points of this last scoping session.
Now, on to the CAC and facilitator selection, then the first CAC meetings. Stay tuned.