Committee secures funding

By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

The Gallatin Community Collaborative has already brought together opposing user groups in an effort to find a new solution to a three-decade old problem. The next step is a series of workshops with its new facilitator, the first of which will be in Big Sky on Oct. 11.

The committee – which represents motorized and non-motorized interest groups, outfitters, landowners, conservation interests, educators and agency managers – has secured approximately $60,000 in funding, hired a facilitator, and laid out a set of guidelines and principals for future negotiations.

According to press information from the GCC, the funding comes from local individuals and organizations, private foundation grants, and federal sources. Managed by the GCC’s fiscal sponsor Park County Community Foundation, the money will be used to support GCC facilitation, logistics and program management, meeting costs, travel costs, and technical resources and supplies.

The exploratory committee spent the last two years building the preliminary guidelines for a future collaborative group it hopes will work toward a management solution for the controversial 155,000-acre Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area.

Congress designated the WSA in 1977 to “preserve its existing wilderness character” until a long-term decision about management and protection could be made. With the National Forest considering revisions to its management plan and no litigation pending, the committee hopes a future collaborative group will create a “broad, adaptive and durable” resolution it can present to the Gallatin National Forest and federal elected officials.

The new facilitator, Jeff Goebel, has designed a three-stage community workshop series that will run October through February, with the goal of establishing trust and building relationships among participants. The workshops, according to the committee, “will lay important groundwork to build from as the GCC moves into more detailed and substantive dialogue on the WSA.”

Based in Portland, Ore., Goebel has facilitated conflicts around the Western U.S., and from Hawaii to Palestine, he says, working with individuals, families, businesses, communities and tribes. Instead of looking for common ground, Goebel plans to help the community find new ground and “100 percent agreement.”

Workshop dates:
Oct. 11 (Friday) – Big Sky, Whitewater Inn, 4-8 p.m., includes dinner
Oct. 12 (Saturday) – Bozeman, Gallatin County Fairgrounds (exhibit building #3), 9-1 p.m., includes breakfast
Oct. 14 (Monday) – Bozeman, Gallatin County Fairgrounds (exhibit building #3), 5:30-9:30 p.m., includes dinner
Oct. 15 (Tuesday) – Livingston, Park High School Multipurpose Room, 5:30-9:30 p.m., includes dinner
Oct. 16 (Wednesday) – Gardiner/Emigrant, Emigrant Community Hall, 5:30-9:30 p.m., includes dinner

The workshops are open to the public, but space is limited. If interested in attending, RSVP at gallatincollaborative.org.