Closing In on Climbing Guidelines at Bitterroot Nationwide Forest


A virtual meeting will review progress on proposed climbing rules in the steep parts of Bitterroot National Forest. According to Bitterroot Forest’s Tod McKay, the Zoom meeting will take place on Wednesday March 30 from 6pm to 8pm.

This is not the definitive Climbing Management Plan (CMP) for the forest, but it will include many of the details previously discussed. For the sixth time, the CMP was the main topic of a public online meeting.

The forest maintained a Climbing Story Map online which was updated as the process progressed. The final decision will not be made until the end of the formal NEPA process, McKay said.

The aim of the plan is to designate responsible climbing activities, taking into account the protection of cultural and natural resources, while maintaining public access. For example, one of the heavily used areas is Mill Creek Canyon northwest of Hamilton. Each spring many climbing routes are closed while nesting raptors such as hawks can hatch a new generation. The plan would also take into account how popular climbing routes are maintained and new routes established.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the goals and expected outcomes of the public contributions will be reviewed, including an update on discussions to date. The draft CMP is expected to move from this phase into a formalized NEPA process. Of course, public thoughts and advice will be considered for a “common strategy,” officials hope.

For more information, contact the Stevensville Ranger Station at 406-777-5461. The Zoom meeting can be accessed on this website.

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