Rock climbing has increased in popularity in the Bitterroot National Forest. As a result, a year-long development of a comprehensive "climbing management plan" is now underway.

In a news release, public affairs officer Tod McKay invited the public to a virtual meeting concerning the plan's progress. The online meeting will be June 2 at 5:30 p.m. Two hours have been set up to discuss the current needs and possibilities for climbers throughout the forest, not just the popular places such as Mill Creek. This is one of several meetings planned. The news release noted the agenda:

  • Introduce a framework for working together to understand critical issues, explore solutions, and provide recommended elements of a future Climbing Management Plan.
  • Engage in a discussion around critical issues, such as impacts to raptors.
  • Seek feedback on the process, hoping to provide meaningful engagement opportunities.

The Microsoft TEAMS meeting platform will be used for the session. Before the meeting, you should check out the interactive "Story Map" that the Bitterroot Forest set up last month. That project was the beginning of the management plan and received input from the community. It will continue to track the planning progress and will be an information hub to everyone interested in the climbing proposals. Even if you're new to climbing activities, it's a great site to learn a few of the basics.

So, check the information at the Story Map site. Click on "Get Involved" and then scroll down to "Upcoming Events" to find out how to access the virtual meeting June 2. The page also has a link to the Western Montana Climbing Coalition. And, you can call the Stevensville Ranger District at 406 777-5461.

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