Montana creek access issues. Again.....
Spoke with a couple of locals up in the Helena area and have confirmed that access to Falls Creek,MT (class IV-V+ - Dearbrn Trib.) has been completely cut-off. The reason given thus far is disrespectful kayakers and trespassing kayakers on private land.
For those of you unfamiliar with this creek - Falls Creek began being run regularly around 2004. There are several good class IV drops, a sweet and lappable 20-foot waterfall and far and way the cleanest/largest runnable waterfall in the state of MT IMHO, a fifty-foot plunge from pool to pool. This creek coupled with a run on the Upper Dearborn(right up the street) provided a great opportunity for diverse crews of creek boaters to paddle together for a full weekend of mellow IV to V+ and at the same time satisfy the needs of the entire lot with a jaw dropping backdrop to boot. (There are good photos and short write-ups for both Falls Creek and Dearborn River on the AW website)
This new issue probably sounds vaguely familiar...
Last year about this time, we contacted the owners of the Lazy K Bar Ranch in MT's Crazy Mountains about permission to host the race on Big Timber Creek. We were immediately informed by the landowner that he was seriously considering closing access to Big T because of disrespectful kayakers speeding and cranking gangsta rap while cruising past his property. We worked diligently with Tack Van Cleve(Landowner) and have the situation currently well in hand(with your help, thanks) and are developing a very positive relationship that goes beyond simple access issues... but it was a close call indeed.
I know that over 400 people have read the recent post about Big T, but humor me, for this is a very important point for everyone to understand. Especially for those of us who live here.
Tack can shut down Big T. Period. There is no way to scout or portage the big drops without trespassing on his property and proving this to the local USFS would be a chip shot for him. Tack and the landowners on Sweetgrass Creek have communicated with each other on their respective issues with paddlers in the past, so it should be obvious that good relations with one will help maintain the other as well. Please keep up with the recent trend of being chill and respectful in that area.
Falls Creek is currently fucked and the potential for this issue to bleed over into the Dearborn run is also very real.
The initial reports are almost exactly the same as last year.
Young dudes in fancy rigs being loud, disrespectful, and trespassing/speeding on private property.
We have a very good idea who the landowners are referring to on both counts, but this isn't a witch hunt for the Silver Spoon Posse...
Those who parked on private property at Falls Creek on creek right, hopped fences, and took shortcuts know who they are. I just want to let you know that you have took away a run many local Montana boaters enjoyed the hell out of paddling by being lazy and ignorant. And that, my friends, is some weak-assed sauce.
If you have the cajones to trick off the fifty-footer on Falls Creek, you sure as shit have the energy to make the 500 yard hike up to scout it first, from the lower, established parking area and onto Forest Service(re:Public) land.
We have a plan in place to establish contact with all parties(landowners) and to hopefully arrange a meeting to try and see if there is any way we can establish a protocol up there that will allow us a second chance on Falls Creek. With any luck at all, Tack Van Cleve may put a good word in for us... To be honest, it will be a longshot at best.
In the end, Young Creek Boaters of America, y'all need to step up and recognize how the way you act around non-boaters and landowners can have a hugely negative effect on an enitre paddling community, not just on your little "gang" of all-star hucksta's. For the sake of the rest of the Montana creeking community I hope that those involved in these damaging events have the humility to recognize their shameful role in these back-to-back issues seriously enough to consider changing their ways when encountering such situations in the future....
For those who have read this far. We would appreciate comments, opinions and ideas from folks in areas that have had similar issues with a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. Montana does not have enough sweet, accessible creeks to allow this to continue.
Our process for Falls Creek access reclamation will be long... We will post our efforts and results as they happen.
Dave Schroeder and Jason Matthews
Headwaters Paddling Association, MT