AMGA Terrain and Supervision Guidelines? Making more rules does not make things safer. Rarely does that work, look at the laws concerning our highways and the highway deaths. Making more rules does lead to more lawsuits. Again, look at our highways.

The latest actions of AMGA hit a lot of nerves and rightfully so. As usual, the lack of understanding and the desire to create something (not sure what) labeled standards are going to create lawsuits. The new Terrain & Supervision Guidelines won’t solve any problems; they’ll only create new ones.

I’ve attached the new requirements here below, so you can review them yourself. If not, you can download your own set here: Terrain & Supervision Guidelines. I’m not sure why the AMGA has created the new requirements. I’ve been told it is a money thing, I’ve been told it is a safety thing, I’ve been told it is a back door into trying to get permits on NPS lands; I have no real idea. I do know it won’t accomplish any of those goals. I did not contact the AMGA to find out what or why.

Attorneys love to deal in fuzzy it gives them latitude to litigate. The only time they don’t like fuzzy is when something is solid and proves their case without having to work very hard. The new Terrain & Supervision Guidelines are the classic sharp line to help prove the defendant was wrong and everything else is fuzzy so no one really knows how to help the defendant.

Let me reminisce.

I quit providing pro bono legal work to the AMGA over fifteen years ago when another attorney said he could get the AMGA into national parks. I told the AMGA that would never happen. I moved on. Fifteen years later and at least two attorneys failing to pull AMGA guides into parks, the AMGA might be going around to the back door believing the back door will open.

Back doors meaning the NPS employees in individual parks who lead the rescues have to deal with the current concessionaires; who they don’t like (familiarity breed’s contempt). It is always easier to like someone who is sucking up in the belief; you can get them in a park to guide.

The problem is the door is not at any park; the door is in Washington DC no matter what the AMGA wants to believe. It doesn’t start at 1849 C St NW, Washington, DC 20240, the Department of the Interior address, either, but at Congress. Congress made the laws the NPS, and the USFS are enforcing on commercial guides on Federal lands. Until the AMGA can raise millions, probably $10 million dollars to lobby Congress, nothing will even look like it is going to change. And I suspect that the $10 million is not enough because the current companies that own permits and concessions will lobby against it, and they are bigger. Remember the big hotel concessions in the parks also run raft trips, trail rides and work with climbing guides.

However, I’ve also been told that the AMGA has backed off from the position that AMGA guides should be allowed to guide in National Parks.

I have found some legal disasters in the new Terrain & Supervision Guidelines.

The guidelines won’t apply to staff hired prior to 2008. An arbitrary number I guess, or probably the number when the last member of the committee became certified and was hired. I sat through board meetings when the first date of guides to be grandfathered under the UIAGM was determined. It was ugly, funny and basically a turf war. Trial attorneys will tear this up. (How come Guide X made it and Guide Y did not. Guide Y has thousands of year’s more recent experience, and Guide X has not been on a mountain since 08?)

The guidelines require that everything has to be documented “in the guide’s personnel file.” Thank heavens the AMGA has reviewed all HR laws in the US and knows this will not create problems. If personal files are paper, then you better get accordion files. To back this up, you’ll have to collect all the information supporting the requirements in the guidelines first, and then add the review of the supervising guides and the evaluations. Weather conditions, snow conditions, terrain maps, route maps, etc., can take a lot of space in a file folder.

My favorite rule is one that requires a guide who has not made the qualifications yet, must be under the direct supervision of a guide who has met the qualifications. Unless the guide, who has met the qualifications, has to take guests down the mountain, then the two guides can be in radio contact. The rules allow the least experienced guide to remain up high, alone.

Direct Supervision: Direct supervision implies side by side guiding such as two rope teams traveling near by on a glacier or on nearby multi-pitch routes, daily briefings and debriefings about route selection, strategy, and client care. Side by side guiding and meetings should be documented in the guide’s personnel file. It is the supervising guide’s responsibility to ensure that assigned tasks are appropriate to a guide’s training and ability. It is allowable for the mentored guide to be in radio or phone contact when turning around with clients to descend.

What if the guide who has been certified, leaves to summit with a group of clients, can the one who hasn’t been certified stay with the clients who don’t/can’t summit. They’ll be in radio contact?

So you make a rule, then you make an exception to the rule. On Denali in a few years, this will be a disaster. The new concession requirements for climbing concessions are going to reduce the number of guides with a commercial group. Rescues will be done without commercial guides because a guide won’t be able to leave the group and work the rescue with these guidelines. (Rescues in the future on Denali are going to be a mess with the latest version of the commercial rules anyway, that is a whole other article.)

The languages of the guidelines are full of legal land mines. Here are some of my favorites.

…who are appropriately trained, tenured or certified

It is the supervising guide’s responsibility to ensure that assigned tasks are appropriate to a guide’s training and ability.

Certified supervisors

…is not of wilderness in nature

My favorite are the terms applied to different people.

Apprentice Guide

Assistant Guide

Aspirant Mountain Guide

Certified Guide

So does that mean you are a patrol leader or a star scout? More importantly do you get a badge?

Here are some more phrases that seem innocuous but don’t make sense.

The stated goal of the new accreditation standard is to have all field staff, except those meeting the 2008 exemption, be trained by the AMGA for the terrain they work on.

So guides who met the requirements prior to 2008 cannot have a lick of training, sense or experience now and not be up to date on the requirements.

How is this going to happen? So I have a concession to guide on Denali. Am I supposed to bring you on one of my trips to tell me that you can train me on this terrain? What about the NPS on this issue and their current regulations. I guess you can come, go sign up and pay the fee, and I’ll take you where I am permitted to go.

AMGA courses are considered the baseline technical training for specific terrain types and are not a substitute for in-house training.

Yet above, they said this is the best you can get? What is this going to mean in court? The AMGA is just the baseline, yet the states the IFMGA (UIAGM) are now the baseline.

(The IFMGA (UIAGM) was founded to allow guides in Europe to guide everywhere and is the International Organization the AMGA must follow.)

I doubt that this has been run by the IFMGA (UIAGM).

Do Something

What’s going to happen? The big concessionaire members of the AMGA are either going to leave and financially sink the AMGA or revolt. No one will be happy either way. They don’t need greater chances of being sued. People die on mountains, and I would guess these new guidelines are not going to change that. They know the terrain and have in place, with NPS approval a way of guiding customers and training staff.

I have not taken the time to compare these guidelines with current NPS regulations for various mountains. I suspect there may be some conflicts. What is a concessionaire supposed to do, not follow the NPS and lose their permit or not follow these. Let’s see I pay money to the AMGA I make money with my NPS permit. Who am I going to follow?

These guidelines, like all standards for people, will only create a checklist for the attorney representing an injured client to sue. The guidelines will be taken and incorporated in interrogatories about each member of the guiding team. One misstep on the mountain or in discovery and these guidelines will change the lawsuit from what we can defend to how much we have to pay.

Don’t get me wrong. The American Mountain Guides Association has some of the greatest people I know as members and as an organization has accomplished tons. However, it is faced with an impossible job with no money to accomplish the job: the promise the AMGA made to the IFMGA in 1993 is never going to come through.

However, making standards, guidelines for people do not stop lawsuits; they only help the plaintiff’s win lawsuits.

Click on the link to download your own copy of the Terrain & Supervision Guidelines.

See the following articles where association guidelines were used to sue the association member:

ACA Standards are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp                             

Great article about the risks of an organization creating standards for members of the industry – and I did not write it                                                                    

If your organization says you do something and you are a member of the organization you better do it or be able to explain why you did not                         

Expert Witness Report: ACA “Standards” are used by Expert for the Plaintiff in a lawsuit against a Camp  

Industry standards are proof of gross negligence and keep defendant in lawsuit even with good release  

Plaintiff uses standards of ACCT to cost defendant $4.7 million         

So if you write standards, you can, then use them to make money when someone sues your competitors  

Trade Association Standards sink a Summer Camp when plaintiff uses them to prove Camp was negligent                                                                     







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Alliance for a Better UTAH: great group fighting to protect Utah from Utahans

Alliance for a Better UTAHYou did it. On Monday we delivered nearly 3,000 signatures to BLM Director Juan Palma, asking the BLM to hold accountable Phil Lyman and his friends for breaking the law by riding roughshod through Recapture Canyon.Director Palma assured us that he is working to hold the protesters accountable. The BLM is preparing to release a report they will then deliver to the US Attorney’s Office in Utah. We anticipated this would happen by directing our petition not only to the BLM, but to US Attorney David Barlow as well. We will follow this every step of the way.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll scroll down to catch up on the latest from the Alliance for a Better UTAH. If you like what you see, chip in a few bucks by clicking here. We depend on donations from supporters like you to keep our elected leaders honest.

Happy Fourth of July,

Josh, Maryann & Isaac
Your Better UTAH Team

Federal Interagency annual pass opens the gate to more than 2,000 recreation areas

KinsailLogoNew.png View in browser

Celebrate Independence in the great outdoors
Interagency annual pass opens the gate to more than
2,000 recreation areas

Dear Park Enthusiast –
This summer, why not flex your independence by experiencing all the treasures your national parks and wildlife areas have to offer, with the convenient annual Interagency pass?Buy the Interagency pass now and start using it this weekend**.

For a single, one-time fee, you get a full year of access to more than 2,000 Federal recreation sites across the country managed by:

National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management
• Bureau of Reclamation

Imagine hiking through a pristine meadow in Yellowstone, or visiting historic Gettysburg where President Lincoln delivered his famous address. Take your family to see designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks 700 years ago at Petroglyph National Monument. Visit just two or three recreation areas in the next 12 months and your Interagency pass will have paid for itself!

Learn more online. If you have questions, call our Customer Service Representatives at
(703) 994-4194 or email service.

Best wishes and Happy 4th of July –
Kinsail Corporation
Authorized Vendor of the National Parks / Interagency Annual Pass
1420 Beverly Road
Suite 150
McLean VA 22101
P: (703) 994-4194
F: (518) 615-8422
service* If you buy your annual Interagency pass now (between today and July 31), it’s valid
through July 31, 2015.
** If you request expedited shipping.

Colorado Outdoor Recreation Resource Partnership meeting Friday: Confluence of Oil & Gas Development and Recreation

Denver Capital building

Denver Capital building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t miss this! Please join CORRP on Friday, June 20th for a

discussion about the confluence of oil and gas development and recreation.

Location: Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Hunter Education building, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216
Date: Friday, June 20th, from 8:00 to 9AM (doors open at 7:30AM)

CORRP is the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Resource Partnership. CORRP communicates the public value and resulting management needs of Colorado’s diverse outdoor recreation resources in such a way that their intrinsic and economic values are maintained for future generations.

Outdoor Alliance Colorado (OAC) will be providing refreshments. OAC is a state wide human-powered recreation partnership that serves as a platform for members to coordinate their efforts to protect public lands, waters and snowscapes, and to ensure these places can be experienced in a meaningful and sustainable manner. Learn more at:

Speakers from Outdoor Alliance Colorado include Nathan Fey, American Whitewater’s Colorado Stewardship Director and Leslie Kehmeier IMBA’s Mapping Specialist. They will be sharing their work on a statewide map of the intersection of recreation and oil and gas development.

Jason Robertson, CORRP co-chair and Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region Deputy Director for Recreation, Lands & Minerals will also be sharing agency observations on the relationship between recent developments in the oil and gas industry and land management for recreation.

Don Bruns, Bureau of Land Management Colorado Recreation Program Lead, will present on recent work related to the Visual Resource Management of development as it relates to recreation, with an emphasis on mitigating those impacts.


Submit Your Photos: 2014 Share the Experience Contest America’s federal lands, national parks, forests, waterways and historical sites


Share the Experience Photo Contest is Back!The 2014 Share the Experience Photo Contest is now accepting entries through December 31. If you’re an amateur photographer, this is your chance to submit inspiring images of America’s federal lands, national parks, forests, waterways and historical sites. The 2014 contest features many prizes and a brand new submission category – Night Skies.Share the Experience showcases amazing photography that highlights the endless recreation opportunities and breathtaking scenery offered by our federal lands. In 2013 about 18,000 images were submitted. See our complete list of 2013 winners and honorable mentions.

Will you be our next winner? The 2014 Grand Prize package includes $10,000, the winning image featured on the 2016 America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass and other great prizes. For a full listing of prizes and rules, or to submit a photo, please visit

2014 submission categories include:

· Adventure & Outdoor Recreation

· Historical & Cultural

· Let’s Move Outside!

· Night Skies – NEW!

· Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes

· Wildlife

Participating Federal Agencies include: National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service.

Make sure you, your family and friends visit to view amazing photos and weekly winners, vote for favorites and submit your entries.

Good Luck!

Enter Your Photo NowCONTEST SPONSORSNational Park Foundation
ACTIVE Network

Paid Internship with meaningful Natural Resource Work and Research

Colorado Youth Corps Association is partnering with the Bureau of Land Management to offer paid internships across the state as a pathway to natural

English: Bureau of Land Management logo

English: Bureau of Land Management logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

resource careers. CYCA is currently seeking to fill 13 positions that are 12-week, full-time, paid internships ($10-$13) with Field Offices across Colorado to perform meaningful natural resource work and research. A handful of the positions have an early May start date.

You may find these listings at with links to the Position Descriptions for your review. We kindly ask that you pass this information along to your networks.

If you have any questions about these positions please feel free to reach out to the identified contact for each position; or contact CYCA Associate Director Scott Segerstrom at ssegerstrom and 303-863-0604.

Many thanks in advance for your support of these opportunities.

Jennifer Freeman, Executive Director

Colorado Youth Corps Association

225 East Sixteenth Avenue, Suite 475

Denver, CO 80203

Direct – 303-863-0602

Main – 303-863-0600

Cell – 720-273-9861

Fax – 303-863-0610




Pathways to Natural Resources Careers Summit

I am pleased to announce that we will be holding our follow-up meeting to the Pathways to Natural Resources Careers Summit on April 24th from 9:00 to 11:30 in the Hunter Education Room of the Colorado Parks & Wildlife building located at 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216. The agenda for this event was generated by participants who attended the Pathways to Natural Resources Careers Summit held on February 23rd, co-hosted by CYCA and BLM.. With record numbers of Agency staff poised to retire and youth and young adult unemployment at 20%, this issue is of great importance.

The primary request at the conclusion of the February Summit was to conduct an inventory of existing resources for assisting young people to chart careers in natural resources – especially in State and Federal agencies. To that end, on April 24 we will:

1 – conduct a resource inventory

2 – identify resource gaps (by geographic area, age group, and target population)

Bureau of Land Management logo

Bureau of Land Management logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 – identify 2-3 action steps we can take in the next 12 months to fill those gaps

As such, please bring any and all of the electronic or hard copy resources you have that pertain to creating a path to employment in the natural resources sector. We will have laptops, and a projector and screen to enable review of electronic resources; please bring several copies of your hard copy materials for review by small groups. Load e-resources on a flash drive. If you are not able to attend, we encourage you to submit resources to us in advance so that they can be considered during the meeting. Please send them to Grant Sanford (gsanford).

Even if you were not able to attend the February Summit, we encourage you to attend this meeting and offer your insight on the topic.

I have attached the summary document from the first Pathways Summit compiled by facilitator Wendy Newman. As this summary illustrates, there are a number of short-term goals that we can collectively achieve through a focused effort. The first step is determining what resources are immediately available and what remains to be created, refined, and implemented. Your assistance and contributions are critical in achieving these goals and ultimately providing natural resource career opportunities to a broad base of young people.

There is no charge for the meeting. To RSVP, follow this link: nweil or 303-863-0603.

Light breakfast refreshments along with coffee and tea will be provided; please bring your own beverage container. RSVP by Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Feel free to forward this email to other interested individuals.


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Fines issued after fatality for failing to have proper permits on USFS land

The Aspen Daily News is reporting that three people have been cited in conjunction with the death of Wallace Westfeldt. The citations are for filming on US Forest Service land without the proper film permits. The Story, Three cited in fatal film shootstates the fines will be $500 each.

Usfs shield 125x125

Image via Wikipedia

The citations came after the investigation into the death of Westfeldt. Westfeldt died while filming in Tonar Bowl outside of Aspen Highlands ski area. Tonar died after jumping off a cliff for a film shoot for the Aspen Ski Company. See Snowboarder killed in Highlands backcountry.

Two stories in the Aspen Daily News hinted that the Aspen Ski Company knew they had violated the law. See: SkiCo vows to ‘more carefully scrutinize permit compliance’ and Fatal Tonar shoot may have broke law.

All commercials activities that occur on US Forest Service lands (as well as NPS and BLM lands) must be done with a commercial permit. The permits are issued to make sure the land is not destroyed, the visitor experience is not altered and that no risk is posed for a visitor. The USFS also receives income from issuing the permits.

Information about Special Use Permits can be found at the US Forest Special Use website. Information on filming on Forest Service lands can be found at

There is a difference between taking a photograph or movie for your personal use or to bore your friends and neighbors after you get home. If you are going to use the photographs or video for commercial purposes, to promote a commercial venture or business you must have a permit from all federal land management agencies.

The three men can either pay the fine or within thirty days contest the charges in Federal Court. The charges are a Class B Misdemeanor.

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