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Advocacy and Policy

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As America’s voice for guides, the AMGA is ensuring our community is at the table and actively shaping a positive future for facilitated access in the United States.

Powered by a partnership with The North Face, the Advocacy Team is strategically working to expand opportunities for the public to access public lands with a guide. This effort includes working on policy at the national level, engaging on local and regional access issues, serving as an educational resource for land managers and AMGA members, and promoting stewardship of the places we visit.

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If you missed the Facebook LIVE conversation on the Facebook Professional Forum Group with AMGA Advocacy and Policy Director Matt Wade, view the video below. From meetings with elected officials at Climb the Hill in Washington, D.C. to Ouray Ice Park and the NPS MOU, Matt will discuss updates on the projects the Advocacy Team has been working on over the past few months and answer questions from our membership.


Recent Work & Accomplishments

Projects completed since January 2018

  • Comments submitted on the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (H.R. 3400) – The AMGA submitted comments in support of provisions that streamline the permitting systems of the USFS and BLM by requiring similar applications and fees, allowing cross-jurisdictional permits, and establishing an online permitting system.
  • Comments submitted on the USFS Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making on NEPA Compliance – The AMGA submitted comments in support of: conducting environmental reviews on a broad scale and creating new categorical exclusions that would allow the agency to (1) issue new temporary permits for a term greater than one year, (2) increase the number of authorized service days for an existing permittee, and (3) authorize an existing permittee to conduct new uses.
  • Access opened at the Gate Buttress, UT – Over 588 routes opened for facilitated access in popular areas such as Green Adjective, School Room, and The Fin.
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Established with the National Park Service – 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.
  • Access secured at the Ouray Ice Park – A new management agreement adopted by the City of Ouray and Ouray Ice Park, Inc. protects 25% of visitor capacity for commercial and institutional group use.
  • New course area for AMGA ice programs – The AMGA received a permit from Vermont State Parks to operate the Ice Instructor Course at the Lake Willoughby ice climbing area.
  • Climb the Hill Leadership – The AMGA led a team during Climb The Hill that met with officials from the Park Service, 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.
  • Comments submitted on Secretarial Order 3366 – The AMGA submitted comments in support of provisions that encourage streamlining of the NPS and BLM permitting systems and which direct the agencies to expand recreation opportunities on lands managed by the Department of Interior.
  • Work with Coalition for Outdoor Access (COA) – The AMGA is a member of the Coalition for Outdoor Access, a broad coalition of organizations working to increase opportunities for facilitated access to public lands. Through COA, the AMGA worked on bill text for the Public Lands Recreational Opportunities Improvement Act, submitted comments against the 2017 NPS fee increase proposal, and assisted with a study on the extent to which the USFS Chief’s Guidance on Modernization of Special Uses is being implemented across forest units.
  • Stewardship of the Liberty Bell Area, Washington State – The AMGA provided support for the Liberty Bell Conservation Initiative, a trail-restoration project to improve trail conditions and reduce climber impact in the popular Liberty Bell area.
  • Permitting Assistance – The AMGA assisted guides and guide services with questions related to permit applications and access opportunities.

Current Projects

  • Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park – The AMGA and eight local guide services are working with park officials to improve commercial use authorization (CUA) stipulations and identify opportunities for increased commercial use during off-peak times and in areas of lower visitation.
  • Yosemite National Park – The AMGA is working with park officials to explore possibilities for expanding commercial rock climbing opportunities in Yosemite Valley.
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with USFS and BLM – The AMGA is actively working on MOUs with the USFS and BLM. This will enhance opportunities for the AMGA to communicate with agency officials and facilitate work on mutually-beneficial projects (stewardship projects, planning efforts, visitor safety initiatives, etc.).
  • Operating Requirements for Commercial Rock Climbing at Ohiopyle State Park, PA – The AMGA is assisting local guides and park staff with the creation of operating requirements for guided rock climbing services in Ohiopyle State Park.
  • USFS Policy Work – The AMGA continues to stay engaged in the environmental analysis and decision-making reform process and is assisting with efforts to enhance awareness and understanding of the Chief’s Guidance on the Modernization of Special Uses.
  • Department of Interior Policy Work – The AMGA continues to stay engaged with NPS and BLM officials as they establish directives to implement Secretarial Order 3366. The AMGA is also participating in a working group to establish best practices for the implementation of NPS Director’s Order 41 (appropriate use of bolts in Wilderness).
  • Government Relations – The AMGA continues to maintain relationships with lawmakers in Washington D.C. to shape recreation legislation and serve as a resource on matters related to facilitated access.
  • USFS Forest Plan Revisions – The AMGA is providing input on forest plan revisions at the Custer-Gallatin National Forest and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison National Forest.
  • Permitting Toolbox – The AMGA is developing a permitting toolbox to help AMGA members navigate the permit system when applying for new permits or when increasing use on existing permits.
  • Member Education – The AMGA provides educational briefings for members and accredited businesses on current legislation, agency policy initiatives related to facilitated access, and new access opportunities.
  • Stewardship Projects – The AMGA supports and promotes stewardship projects that conserve the climbing and skiing environment, improve visitor experiences, and strengthen relationships with land managers and the public.
  • IFMGA Reciprocity – The AMGA is creating guidelines and educational materials to help foreign IFMGA guides understand and work within the American public land permitting systems.
  • Work with Partners – The AMGA continues to foster vibrant and productive partnerships with our friends in the outdoor industry.