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Projects and Policy Statements

The AMGA Advocacy Program works on an array of projects and policy initiatives to improve access opportunities for facilitated groups on public lands. This includes collaboration with local land managers on specific access issues, commenting on national land agency directives and policy, establishing partnership agreements with stakeholders, and assisting in the creation of legislation to improve permitting systems for facilitated outdoor recreation on public lands. The following list showcases recent projects and policy statements, including comments submitted in conjunction with partner organizations and coalitions.

2019

Denali National Park & Preserve Guide Experience Requirements – the AMGA and mountaineering concession contract holders worked with the National Park Service to revise mountaineering guide experience requirements at Denali National Park and Preserve.

House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Legislative Hearing on the SOAR Act and Recreation Not Red Tape Act  – testimony provided by Matt Wade, AMGA Advocacy and Policy Director, who served as a witness at the hearing. View the full hearing on the House Natural Resources website.

Sequoia and Sierra National Forests Draft Revised Forest Plan (PDF) – comments submitted with a recommendation to clarify plan language to ensure new and existing outfitting and guiding activities can be authorized provided those uses are consistent with desired conditions. AMGA also recommended the requirement to complete needs assessments for outfitting and guiding be limited to areas outside of wilderness, as required by statute.

USFS Notice of Proposed Rule Making on NEPA Compliance (PDF) – comments submitted in support of maintaining public participation in the land management process, preserving strong environmental review standards for land-disturbing activities, and improving efficiency in the permitting process for outfitters and guides.

Custer-Gallatin National Forest Draft Revised Forest Plan (PDF) – comments submitted against a proposed moratorium on new recreation special uses in wilderness and in support of a proposal to designate Hyalite Canyon and Gallatin Canyon as recreation emphasis areas.

Expanded Access on Shoshone National Forest – The AMGA and local guides worked with Forest Service officials to revise a Forest policy that was only allowing temporary permits to be issued every other year. Temporary permits are now available on a seasonal basis and additional priority use permits will be available in the near future.

U.S. Senate, Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Full Hearing to Examine Opportunities to Improve Access, Infrastructure, and Permitting for Outdoor Recreation (PDF) – testimony submitted to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with recommendations for ways to improve the outfitter and guide permitting systems of the federal land agencies.

2018

USFS Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making on NEPA Compliance (PDF) – comments submitted in support of conducting environmental reviews on a broad scale and creating new categorical exclusions that would allow the agency to issue new temporary permits for a term greater than one year, increase the number of authorized service days for an existing permittee, and authorize an existing permittee to conduct new uses.

Access secured at the Ouray Ice Park – The AMGA worked with the City of Ouray, Ouray Ice Park Incorporated, and other stakeholders to establish a new management agreement securing 25% of visitor capacity for commercial and institutional group use.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Established with the National Park Service (PDF) – The AMGA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Park Service (NPS) to create new avenues for collaboration on land-use management, stewardship, and planning.

Report on the Implementation of the 2016 USFS Chief’s Guidance on Recreation Special Uses (PDF) – The AMGA partnered with The Wilderness Society, the American Alpine Club, and the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education to conduct a study on the implementation of the 2016 USFS Chief’s Guidance on the Modernization of Special Uses. The AMGA and our partners submitted this report to U.S. Forest Service officials to improve their understanding of the efficacy of the guidance and identify opportunities for future improvement.

Climb the Hill Leadership – The AMGA led a team during Climb The Hill that met with officials from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Senate offices to advocate for improvements to the permitting system and seek support for legislation such as the Recreation Not Red Tape Act and the Public Lands Recreational Opportunities Improvement Act.

Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3366 (PDF) – comments submitted in support of the Order’s direction to increase and expand existing recreational opportunities, and improve and streamline the permitting process for outfitters and guides and the contracting process for concessioners.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Established with the U.S. Forest Service (PDF) – The AMGA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Forest Service to facilitate cooperation on mutually-beneficial programs, projects, and activities.

Guide Stewardship Day at the Liberty Bell Area, Washington State –The AMGA hosted a Guide Stewardship Day with 8 Washington-based climbing guides, 2 professional trail builders from the Access Fund Conservation Team, and 3 Forest Service climbing rangers from the Methow Valley Ranger District. They hardened and stabilized existing sections of trail to improve climber access to the Liberty Bell Area in Washington State. This project was part of the Liberty Bell Conservation Initiative spearheaded by The Access Fund, Washington Climbers Coalition, and The Mountaineers.

Draft Monument Management Plans for the Indian Creek and Shash Jáa Units of Bears Ears National Monument (PDF) –  comments submitted in support of collaboration with American Indian Tribes to educate special recreation permit (SRP) holders on the cultural history of the Monument, backcountry site visitor etiquette, and stewardship, and to train SRP holders in site monitoring techniques and conducting monitoring inspections. Request for clarification on the paleontological survey requirement as it pertains to the issuance of SRPs.

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks Proposed Changes for the 2020-2021 Wilderness CUA Program (PDF) – comments submitted in support of an improved service day allocation method, a multi-jurisdictional permitting relationship with Inyo National Forest, adjustments to the Mount Whitney Management Area boundary, establishment of winter season commercial service days, allowance of technical rock climbing, industry standard ratios up to 6:1, and no application fee increases.

2017

Joshua Tree National Park Revised Standards for Commercial Use Authorizations (PDF) – comments submitted in support of common standards for commercial climbing instructors and guides.

U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 3400, Recreation Not Red Tape Act (PDF) – comments submitted in support of proposed legislation to streamline the permitting systems of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management by requiring similar applications and fees, allowing cross-jurisdictional permits, and establishing an online permitting system.

Access opened at the Gate Buttress, UT – The AMGA supported the work of the Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance to open over 588 routes for facilitated access in popular areas such as Green Adjective, School Room, and The Fin.

National Park Service Entrance Fee Increase Proposal (PDF) – comments submitted in partnership with the Coalition for Outdoor Access to discourage the implementation of a proposal to increase peak season entrance fees at 17 popular parks across the nation.

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) Commercial Use Authorization Program (PDF) – collaboration with park officials on changes to SEKI’s commercial use authorization program to allow guided technical rock climbing, increase guide-to-client ratios to industry norms, improve the processes used for allocating service days, and other items.

2016

Yosemite National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan (PDF) – scoping comments submitted in support of expanded opportunities for the public to climb with a guide in Yosemite National Park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Wilderness & Backcountry Management Plan (PDF) –  comments submitted in support of the park’s preferred alternative for wilderness and backcountry management and the interim climbing management plan.

Denali National Park & Preserve Mountaineering Franchise Fee Proposal (PDF) – comments submitted in partnership with the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club encouraging the park to dismiss a proposal that would increase mountaineering concession contract franchise fees by four times, to 18%.