A virtual meeting will review the progress made on proposed climbing rules on the steep parts of the Bitterroot National Forest. The Zoom meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, according to Tod McKay of the Bitterroot Forest.

This is not the final Climbing Management Plan (CMP) for the forest, but it will cover many details already discussed. This is the sixth time the CMP has been the main topic of a public online meeting.

The forest has been maintaining a Climbing Story Map online, which has been updated as the process moves forward. The final decision will not be until the end of the formal NEPA process, McKay said.

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

The meeting Wednesday will review objectives and the hoped-for outcomes of public input, including an update of conversations so far. The draft CMP is expected to move from this stage to a formalized NEPA process. Of course, public thoughts and advice are being considered for what officials hope is a "shared strategy."

To get further information, contact the Stevensville Ranger Station at 406-777-5461. The Zoom meeting can be accessed at this website.

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