Groups object to ‘undemocratic’ Gallatin Community Collaborative process

Date: March 31, 2016 at 4:03:32 PM MDT
To: gallatincollaborative@gmail.com
Cc: Mary Erickson <mcerickson@fs.fed.us>

Please see the attached letter regarding the Gallatin Community Collaborative and our recommendation for the Gallatin Range Wilderness.  The letter is being provided on behalf of 14 organizations and 4 individuals.

March 29, 2016

RE: Gallatin Community Collaborative process

To Whom It May Concern:

We the undersigned organizations and citizens object to the Gallatin Community Collaborative (GCC) process. It is undemocratic and allows a small select group of locals to exert undue influence over Federal land management policy. We object to these efforts to exert local control over public lands that belong to all Americans. While local citizens will almost always have more opportunity to influence public land decision- making than do citizens living thousands or even hundreds of miles away, local-control groups like the GCC ensure the vast majority of citizens will be excluded from decisions made about their lands. Such “user group” driven processes lose sight of the fact that most Americans cherish their public lands for the benefits these lands provide to wildlife, plants, and ecosystem processes, rather than the desires of those who care mostly about their particular use or activities.

We support wilderness designation for the entire 229,000 acres roadless portion of the Gallatin Range that lies north of Yellowstone National Park on the Custer-Gallatin National Forest. The Gallatin Range is one of the premier unprotected national forest roadless areas in the nation and is a vital component of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem wildland complex. It may be the best remaining unprotected wildlife habitat in the entire national forest system. Half of the range north of Yellowstone is already “roaded and developed” and the remaining wildland should not be further fragmented or reduced in size in order to satisfy vested local interests. These lands belong to all Americans and all Americans should have equal opportunity to weigh in on their future.

Click here for a discussion about concerns with the Gallatin Community Collaborative debated previously on this blog.

3 Comments

  1. Matthew, I went to the GCC website to take a look at its process and procedures. It’s odd that there isn’t an easy-to-find list of the GCC members. However, I did eventually find a list of all members (active, inactive, Inactive Participant, USFS, and Media) — about 350 folks are listed — that shows which meetings they attended from 2014 to Summer 2015, eight meetings in all. Of the 18 folks who signed the letter, only two are on the list: George Nickas and Denise Boggs, both inactive members; neither has attended a meeting.

    It may be that other representatives of the organizations that signed the letter are members and have attended GCC meetings, but it’s odd for a group of folks who have never attended a GCC meeting to criticize the GCC’s process as “undemocratic.”

  2. Hi Steve,

    Did you see this post about the GCC, which is also linked to at the bottom of the new post?

    Could You Participate in Gallatin Collaborative’s 3-day, 27 hour-long workshop?

    SNIP: “…One of the more interesting dynamics of all this “collaboration” springing up regarding public lands management is the tremendous amount of time, resources and funding needed for an individual, organization or private business to fully participate in the plethora of optional collaborative processes. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 10 different optional collaborative processes taking place across the state of Montana (Size: 147,164 sq miles) that deal directly with US Forest Service management.

    Complicating the issue – at least here in Montana – is the fact that some of those able to participate in the more controversial optional collaborative processes in Montana aggressively and endlessly take to the media to publicly criticize those individuals and groups that lack the time, resources and funding to participate in these optional collaborative processes. Of course, ironically some of these collaborators don’t actually fully participate in the legally required NEPA public involvement process. Unfortunately such facts don’t stop some of these folks from intentionally confusing the public by making it seem that those who fully participate in the legally required NEPA public involvement process aren’t participating in any public process….

    The announcement raises a number of questions. Would you be able to participate in 27 hours worth of optional collaborative process meetings over 3 straight days (including 9 hours on Thursday and 9 hours on Friday)? How about other working people, or college students, who aren’t paid to sit around the table? And if you can’t manage to set aside 18 hours over two entire mid-week days and 9 hours on a Saturday to travel to Bozeman, MT to participate in an optional collaborative process in an attempt to come to some agreements on how to manage a Wilderness Study Area that equally belongs to all Americans, how would you feel if some of those paid to be at the table publicly criticize the inability of others to participate in such a laborious optional collaborative process?”

    But wait, there’s more! Less than two months after the 3-day, 27 hours worth of optional ‘collaboration’ with the Gallatin Community Collaborative in November, the GCC announced another 3 days worth of ‘collaborative’ meetings, this time covering 24 hours for the month of January.

    So, Steve, not being able to attend the optional collaborative meetings (due to time, resources, traveling 400 to 600 miles round trip during the middle of winter [and that’s just for Montana citizens], no money to stay in hotels for 4 or 5 night, etc) is the point! Especially when we are talking about federal public lands that belong equally to all Americans and also especially when we already have fully open, inclusive and transparent public participation requirements as contained in NEPA, NFMA, etc.

    Thanks.

  3. See also:

    http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/03/07/new-research-who-litigates-who-collaborates-and-why/

    “The results show that large, more professionalized organizations and those with multiple values use a collaborating strategy; small, less professionalized organizations and those with a single environmental value use a confronting strategy. In other words, collaboration is not representative of all environmental groups – smaller groups and more ideological groups are not involved. This research serves as a caution to those who would use, or advocate the use of, collaboration – its use must be carefully considered and its process carefully designed to ensure the most balanced representation possible.”

    “If smaller, more ideological environmental groups are not involved in collaborative decision-making, then collaboration is not representative of all affected interests and collaborative decisions do not reflect the concerns of all stakeholders.” – Caitlin Burke, Ph.D., Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University

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