Thursday, March 5, 2020

Please take a look at Forest Plan Revision when it comes out


The Custer-Gallatin National Forest Plan Revision document should soon be out. In a good faith effort, many citizens volunteered much time and energy to the Gallatin Community Collaborative (GCC), initiated by the Custer-Gallatin National Forest (CGNF). The GCC was designed to engage the community in helping to solve a Forest Service-generated problem: illegal use of mechanized transportation in a Wilderness Study Area (WSA). Instead of administering the WSA so no human activities would preclude it from Wilderness designation, as directed by law, the Forest Service had allowed motorized users to frequent the area. Then, rather than enforcing the law, the Forest Service turned to the community to resolve the controversy through a collaborative effort.

The collaborative effort failed, further polarizing the community. After the collaborative stalemate, a few local representatives of “big green” groups exclusively self-selected as the “Gallatin Forest Partnership,” along with anti-wilderness mechanized recreationists, eager to further pulverize already heavily compromised wildlands. They’re counting on you to sit back on your heels, thinking all’s well with them at the helm. Your trust is misplaced if you rely on them to advocate for wildlife and wildlands on the CGNF.

The Gallatin Forest Partnership’s wilderness proposal is meager and myopic. Most roadless areas would be open to development and mechanization. Though they would like to portray their pitiful proposal as occupying the “environmental” end of the spectrum, it does not. Grassroots conservation organizations across the region support full protection as Wilderness for all of the roadless areas, as well as efforts to reclaim and reconnect already degraded landscapes.

Please take a look at the Forest Plan Revision when it comes out. Imagine a different paradigm: informed, thoughtful citizens who acknowledge, honor, expand, connect and protect the remaining wild remnants, so we’ll all better prepared to meet an uncertain future.

Marilyn Olsen
Paradise Valley


Why I can’t vote for Marty Malone


Once again, Marty Malone is asking for our vote, this time to represent us in HD 59. I cannot vote for him for the following reasons:

On May 24, 2011, a flood washed out Peterson Creek Road. The road accessed my home and Malone represented my district. The county deemed the road a county road, even though the washed-out road lies in Section 5, and the county road description identified an adjacent road “across the 1st bridge of Peterson Creek, in section 6.” Regardless of the discrepancy, the county bored a road across the private property in Section 5, as Malone stated to “bypass the (washed-out) culverts.” Assuming the washed-out road was a county road, the county had an obligation to petition to abandon and then petition to relocate the road per 7-14-2615 MCA. They did neither. Due to that failure, the “county road” effectively dead ends at the “first (washed-out) bridge across Peterson Creek” and the new road is on private property and is private. Cost to county taxpayers: approximately $4,000.

Then in 2012, the county proceeded to replace one of the washed-out creek crossings leading to my home. The meetings to plan, purchase and hire the crossing installation were held on Oct. 2, 9, 15 and 16, 2012. None of those meetings were listed on the agenda, nor were they recorded in the written minutes. The only record that occurred is the audio recordings. Because those meetings were not agendized, no member of the public (including myself) could have known, attended or weighed in on their content, a violation of the “right to know and participate” 2-3-101 & 2-3-103 MCA. Additionally, the county violated their own stipulation agreement and subsequent Resolution #984.

During the 15-minute unnoticed meeting on Oct. 2, the county spoke to an engineer to finalize the purchases for the bridge and to itemize the cost of the components. Malone stated, “We gotta bid it out,” but then asked the engineer, “Can you split them (the bids) all up?” And the engineer said they could and the county did. Splitting bids to subvert letting public bids is a violation of 7-5-2301 MCA. In 2012, public works in excess of $50,000 were to be let to public bid. Again, Malone violated the law by splitting the bids and denied local contractors the opportunity to bid. Cost to county taxpayers for a bridge on private property to one private residence: approximately $64,000.

I cannot give the job of making laws to someone who doesn’t follow or respect the laws that exist. If this is the best Park County has to offer to represent our area, God help us all.

Please note: The statute of limitations to file suit is three years from the time you could have reasonably known. Do your diligence. Read the agenda of the Oct. 2, 2012 meeting, read the written minutes and then listen to the recording. This is day one of 1,095 days.

Barbara Fletcher