Lost Horse Canyon, MT


By Steve Porcella, Bitterroot Climbers Coalition

Lost Horse Crag in the Bitterroot Mountain remains at risk of being mined. This mining proposal has been deadlocked by an even vote of the Ravalli County Commission. Ravalli County Commissioner Kathleen Driscoll is the one abstainer in the currently tied vote (2 vs 2 out of 5 total commissioners) on whether to proceed on the Lost Horse Mining Proposal (slated to start Oct. 2007). Driscoll remains undecided while she waits for cost estimate numbers for mining road gravel at the old Lost Horse quarry versus other gravel pits throughout the county. For more background, see www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/74.

The Bitterroot Climbers Coalition, www.bitterrootclimbers.org, urges climbers to continue writing to Driscoll. Make it known that citizens and visitors to the Bitterroot Valley and Lost Horse Canyon do not want this issue to be determined by the price of gravel, but rather upon the preservation of the unique recreational and outdoor attributes of Lost Horse Canyon. This important deciding vote should not be cast dependant upon if money will be saved for gravel mining but instead on the long term impacts to the Canyon from an active gravel mining operation and how this proposed industrial site will negatively impact all recreational use and interests in the area. Also worth mentioning are the negative health and safety aspects of running such an operation on a narrow dirt road and the loss of property values for local residents.

Take action now! Write Kathleen Driscoll at the address below. Lost Horse is the best climbing, bouldering, and cragging area in Montana. Operation of this quarry for the next 10 years or more will effectively halt all access to the climbing and destroy a unique recreational area in the heart of the Bitterroot Mountains.

See Joe Josephson's website: www.firstascentpress.com for more information and to order advance copies of the Lost Horse Climbing guide, available in late September.

Write your letters to:
Attn: Kathleen Driscoll
Glenda Wiles, Administrative Assistant
Ravalli County Commissioners Office
215 S. 4th Street, Suite A
Hamilton, MT 59840

Consider the following points in your letter:
The climbing resources at Lost Horse are very valuable to climbers locally, regionally, and across the country. This is the best climbing area in the state.
Re-activation of the quarry will negatively impact the scenic nature of the area, produce noise, disrupt wildlife such as migrating herds, wolverine that migrate through canyon, and peregrine falcons (which nest on the cliff), create a bigger footprint scar in the area (2-3 times bigger and deeper) and basically make the area too dangerous or impossible for climbing.
The Forest Service proposal does not recognize or consider the unique recreational asset of Lost Horse, nor the hundreds of climbers, land owners, and other users in the area. They do not realize climbers and many other users enjoy Lost Horse every month of the year and grossly underestimate the safety and egress issues (access from an upper observation point).

See www.accessfund.org/pdf/losthorse.pdf to view the Access Funds opposition letter.