Two days prior to their second meeting, the citizen advisory committee working on the Madison River Recreation Plan got a new member.
John Juracek from West Yellowstone was officially added to the committee Monday, after officials from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office heard complaints about the lack of representation on the committee from West Yellowstone.
“The Governor’s office had heard, I think, a fair amount from the community of West Yellowstone, as we had as well,” said Pat Flowers, FWP region 3 director in Bozeman.
Flowers got word Friday to select another member for the committee. Juracek agreed to be on the committee Monday.
The Madison River Recreation Planning process officially got under way this past winter with a series of community meetings around the Madison River region. The process involves FWP working with a citizen advisory committee to develop a recreation plan for the river. This plan will go forward to the FWP commission as a recommendation. If the commission approves the recommendation, then the plan will be developed and implemented by the agency.
The CAC held its first meeting two weeks ago and its second meeting will be Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the El Western Conference Center in Ennis.
Committee membership was an issue during the first meeting as Flowers and Bureau of Land Management Recreation Manager Chris McGrath were informally added to the committee.
Initially, FWP officials selected 13 to be on the committee. But the selections had to meet Schweitzer’s approval. He told the agency that the committee should be made up of seven people to save money. Ultimately, it was his decision to add another person from West Yellowstone.
Juracek’s was one of the 13 originally selected by FWP, Flowers said.
Adding him now won’t disturb the dynamic of the group and should actually help.
“The key is to have all the interests represented,” Flowers said. “If you have one more person who represents those same interests it doesn’t damage the process – presumably it’s going to enhance the process by adding another voice to the table.”
Juracek has already been talking to people in West Yellowstone about their thoughts on the recreation planning process and what they’d like to see come of it.
“I’m trying to get different perspectives, not just from the fishing community,” he said.
Juracek is an avid fly fisherman and used to be a guide and part owner of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. He’s also a photographer and still works part time at the fly shop. He’s been in West Yellowstone for about 30 years.
Even though there are already people from the commercial fishing industry on the CAC, he feels it will be important to add a voice from West Yellowstone, which is a unique community extremely tied to tourism and invested in the outcome of the recreation management process.
“Since there are no strict qualifications to be on the committee, it just made sense to have representation from here,” Juracek said. “It’s hard to replicate the perspective of the community by someone who isn’t part of the community… It would be like me trying to represent Ennis on (the committee).”
One of the groups who contacted FWP and Schweitzer was the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce. They were disappointed that no one from their community was represented on the initial committee.
“It seemed like there were people from all over … but there was no one from this area and we made a statement about that,” said West Yellowstone Chamber President Travis Watt.
West Yellowstone has a big economic interest in the Madison River, which has its headwaters in Yellowstone National Park. It just seems like having perspectives from around the region would make the best sense.
“I’m a big fan of when you have these groups you need to make sure you have as many interested parties there,” Watt said.