The Madison River Negotiated Rulemaking Committee (NRC) has disbanded without reaching a consensus on strategies for regulating use on the Madison River. This isn’t really news…they were going to “disband” anyway. Their role was temporary. Instead of submitting a consensus report to the FWP Commission, they will now offer individual reports from each member of the NRC to the commissioners. It has been a long and tedious process, but a lot, a whole lot, was learned.
- We learned how crucial the health of the Madison is to the town of Ennis. The NRC process bonded and united our town. So many of our small business owners eyes were opened to various shenanigans taking place surrounding the use of the river. If they didn’t already know, the powers- that- be now realize our town is ready, willing and able to stand up and be heard. We have so many smart, dedicated, hard working folks living here.
- We learned that the process was flawed from the start…the NRC was forced to plod forward with sketchy, incomplete data. Unless one has the complete picture it is impossible to draw intelligent conclusions. Bad data equals bad judgement.
- We learned that many, many, many diverse types of folks use the river. Very difficult if not impossible to keep everybody happy.
- We learned that certain fishing outfitters used the process to push for the agenda of “monetizing” their outfitter use days, hoping that down the line they can parlay these days into a cash cow at the expense of the smaller outfitter and newer fishing guides just starting out. This is a slippery slope leading to “a few controlling the many”…the Wal Mart fishing outfitter scenario. There was even talk of one outfitter “padding” his days so if monetization happened he could cut a fat hog.
- Because of the NRC process, The Madison River Foundation was exposed for the first time to the public as a special interest group pushing an agenda for a small, “elite” group of landowners at the expense of the majority of dedicated, well meaning MRF donors. A schism was the result, with the MRF Executive Director resigning and the membership fractured.
- Throughout the process, fishing guides and outfitters were attacked as greedy, uncaring sloths with no regard for the health of the Madison. The guide/outfitter community took the high road throughout and presented themselves with class and dignity, showing that they truly do care. I am proud to be one of them. Let the process continue. Let cooler heads prevail. Let more data come in and be digested. A rush to judgement could lead to a train wreck. And thank you to the members of the NRC for your time and efforts! We learned a lot.
That is good data!
If the Beaverhead/Big Hole Rules Process wasn’t introduced, it needs to be. There were many perspectives in the process that can provide a historic perspective so you don’t need to repeat their glitches.
The River Recreation Advisory Council, of which I participated, was formed to develop a manner of dealing with a diverse group of interests as well. What came out of it is a list of 23 guiding principles; I hope someone at FWP provided them.