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LEWIS AND CLARK BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION
Fish, Wildlife & Parks Building, Helena, Montana
February 13, 2001
Commissioners in attendance were: Betty Stone, chair, Kathy Doeden, Jack Lepley, Darrell Martin, Marilyn Ryan, Hal Stearns, Matthew Cohn, Doug Monger, and Arnie Olsen. Staff included Clint Blackwood and Rita Cortright. Guests included: Richard Hopkins, BOR; Stan Huhtala, Marias River Chapter; Elaina Zempel, Golden Triangle Bicentennial Comm.; Dave Walter, MHS; Betsy Allen, Sen. Conrad Burns Office; Ron Clark; Ken Soderberg, State Parks; Ken Richardson, Doug Skiba and Scott Sproull, Western Montana Bicentennial Comm.; Jeff Gerard, Congressman Rehberg's Office; Kim Prill, BLM; Carol Crockett, MTRI; Gerard Baker, NPS; and Jack Light, Pompeys Pillar Assn.
Due to weather, Betty Stone, Kathy Doeden and Homer Staves had not arrived by the scheduled meeting time of 9:30 a.m.; therefore, Mr. Blackwood opened the meeting with legislative discussion.
V. Legislative Update & Discussion
Doug Monger, FWP, said their agency is dealing with several funding initiatives; some deal with motor boating and revenue for parks that are progressing well. HB 215 is a bill dealing with the restriction of improvements to fencing and toilets at 109 unimproved fishing access sites. The impact for L&C is that conceivably it limits development that local communities may want to do at river access sites and FWP is opposing the bill. It has gone through the House and is being held in Senate Fish & Game. SB 286 deals with Headwaters State Park, which is designated as a "primitive park." This means that FWP can only maintain it in its current condition. SB 286 would allow for modification of the orientation area of the park. FWP has offered amendments to also allow for improvements at the confluence of the Madison and Jefferson rivers. The bill sponsor is not favorable to amendments beyond those offered by FWP. Mr. Blackwood asked about Commission involvement and Mr. Monger said if anyone desires more interpretation in this state park, they should approach the House Fish & Game Committee. SB 409 would create 3 new state parks in northeastern Montana; 1) an IMAX theater at Ft. Peck; 2) an historic homestead park in Phillips County; and 3) L&C interpretation at the Wolf Point Bridge.
Arnie Olsen, Montana Historical Society, addressed HB16, a bill proposing a $40 million loan from the coal trust, to be repaid with a 1% increase in the bed tax, with a rebate to Montana residents. He reported that Governor Martz would not sign the bill, but would be willing to consider a referendum in 2002. HB 16 is now being converted to a referendum, and has been heard in House Taxation and Long Range Planning without opposition testimony being presented. The bill contains $6.75 million for L&C, with $10.5 million for heritage grants to local communities. It has industry support and the funds would become available in 2003, and possibly earlier with a bonding component. He reported that SB 263 might be amended as it passes through the House to have additional funds earmarked for the Society, of which a portion would be operations funds for the L&C Commission, rather than through Travel Montana's budget. SB 439 proposes raising the bed tax to 9% with a complete rebate to residents and a total redistribution of bed tax funds. It has a L&C component that would make $225,000 available annually from 7/1/2002 - 6/30/2007 for general operations and $500,000 for grants. This bill does not have industry support.
Mr. Blackwood addressed SB 393 that would allow for a L&C specialty license plate to go on sale in January 2002, with the proceeds going to the Commission's grants program. This bill will be heard on February 15th at 3:00 p.m. SB 191 is a bill that would totally revise the process for creating specialty plates. The process would be redirected from the Legislature to the Dept. of Justice and would allow for a wide range of non-profit organizations to qualify for specialty plates. If this bill passes, SB 393 would go through the Dept. of Justice to be finalized and there could be increased competition for the L&C specialty plate. HJ 18 is a message from Montana's Legislature to President Bush and Congress seeking federal support for the Bicentennial. Mr. Blackwood will be attending a L&C Caucus hearing on April 4 in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Cohn reported that his office is tracking 49 bills or LC's and the ones pertinent to the Commission would be those that affect the amount of bed tax that flows to Travel Montana, as it is the basis of the funding for the Commission. He said SB 263 would probably be the major piece of legislation that affects the bed tax, and may or may not be amended. In its current form, it maintains the amount of funding for the Heritage Commission and Mr. Cohn expects it will be alive until the end of the session. Regarding SB 439, he said the tax rebate is very popular, but did not expect this bill to get out of committee in its current form. HB 236 would fund non-recurring tourism-related events, and Mr. Cohn cited the bowling tournament in Billings as an example. He said the TAC has looked at this possibility in the past and does not support it. If this does occur, Mr. Cohn said Travel Montana would lose 12% of its budget. He said a bill to reorganize the Dept. of Commerce indicates the total commitment of the current administration to developing a new economic development strategy. He closed by saying there is an impetus to provide funds for the Bicentennial; what remains to be seen is what form it will take and whose funds will be committed.
Mr. Blackwood reported on his legislative activities on behalf of the Commission saying he gathered signatures on SB 393 and offered testimony in support of legislation that came out of the Futures of the Past. Mr. Blackwood asked the Commission to consider their response if asked to support of SB 439, and tabled the topic until Ms. Stone could join the meeting. Mr. Cohn said it was their responsibility as a Commission to attempt to secure funding and they would be obligated to support it. However, he recommended not supporting any particular bill and said his agency was instructed to not provide testimony unless specifically asked to do so by the Governor's Office. Mr. Monger asked if SB 393 needed FWP support and Mr. Blackwood said he has not seen opposition to the bill, but it would be helpful. Mr. Cohn suggested that testimony or written support from regional bicentennial commission s would be helpful and Mr. Blackwood said he has requested support in his weekly legislative update e-mail messages. With regard to SB 286, Mr. Stearns said the Commission should stand in support of adequate signage and facilities at Headwaters State Park. Mr. Monger said from an agency standpoint, FWP has gone as far as they can go with regard to bill amendments, noting that the bill's sponsor believes that brochures would serve to adequately inform the visitor. He said now is the time to address the issue as next session would be too late to effect changes to the park in time for the Bicentennial. He reported that the legislative committee did not visit the site as was previously planned. Mr. Blackwood asked for the Commission's desire and Ms. Ryan and Mr. Stearns spoke in support of increased interpretation. Mr. Blackwood tabled this issue until Ms. Stone could assume the chair.
FWP to Acquire Travelers' Rest Campsite at Lolo
Mr. Blackwood asked Mr. Monger to address the press release regarding Travelers' Rest. Mr. Monger explained that FWP was approached by several organizations in the Missoula/Lolo area about the concept of State Parks holding title to Travelers' Rest. He said there is a conservation buyer lined up to acquire the site if the title could be held long-term by an agency. This was presented to FWP's commission last week, with the caveat that the department could hold title without incurring costs. FWP's commission granted authority to further investigate the possibility of acquiring fee title to Travelers' Rest. Mr. Monger said this involves conducting an Environmental Assessment, contacting adjoining landowners, and securing long-term agreements with the private organizations conducting fundraising for capital construction and long-term maintenance.
Betty Stone and Kathy Doeden joined the meeting at 10:30 a.m.
Doug Skiba was invited to address the Commission. He heads Travelers' Rest Preservation Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation and interpretation of the site. He said the deadline for submitting comments on the EA is March 8 and asked if the Commission would consider providing comment. Mr. Blackwood noted that the Commission had designated Travelers' Rest as one of Montana's two most significant L&C sites. Mr. Skiba said this is only the beginning phase as they are seeking options on other parcels as well as funds for acquisition, interpretation and maintenance. Mr. Stearns suggested that Commissioners review the EA and e-mail comments to Mr. Blackwood by Feb. 25 and he will compile comments and send a letter by the March 7 deadline. Mr. Cohn made a motion to give Mr. Blackwood the ability to comment in a positive way on the Commission's behalf on the EA unless he finds something glaring, at which point he would go back to the Executive Committee. Ms. Ryan seconded and the motion carried. Mr. Stearns recognized Doug Skiba for his efforts on behalf of Travelers' Rest.
Ms. Stone assumed the chair and called for introductions. She welcomed Darrell Martin and Kathy Doeden, the two newest members of the Commission.
VI. Legislative Update & Discussion
Ms. Stone returned discussion to legislative issues and asked for a briefing on SB 286, which Mr. Blackwood and Mr. Monger provided. Ms. Ryan made a motion that the Commission work to expand interpretation at Headwaters State Park. Mr. Stearns seconded. Ms. Stone called for further discussion. Hearing none, the motion passed with Mr. Monger abstaining.
Ms. Stone said the Commission at its last meeting discussed how to respond to legislation and at that time voted to allow the Executive Committee to handle legislative issues as they arose. She called for discussion on philosophy and asked if the direction voted on at the last meeting required a change. Mr. Olsen asked for the Commission's position on SB 439. Mr. Blackwood added that LC 170 has not yet been brought out, but SB 439 is very much like the Futures of the Past, and would be good for the Commission. He said he has not been asked to testify. Ms. Ryan said 9% is not high compared to the rates charged in other states. Mr. Olsen said the question was whether to support a bill that provides $750,000 annually with the understanding that it goes against the group that provides current funding for the Commission. Ms. Stone suggested testifying as an informational witness. Mr. Olsen suggested responding that it would be up to the Legislature to determine the appropriate mechanism of funding L&C. Mr. Cohn agreed and recommended staying with a consistent message that L&C funding is needed. Mr. Olsen made a motion with regard to SB 439 that the Commission provide informational testimony only, and that the Executive Committee would review future bills on a case-by-case basis and confer with the full Commission if necessary. Mr. Lepley seconded and the motion carried.
III. Approval of October 4-5, 2000 Meeting Minutes
Ms. Stone called for approval of the October meeting minutes. Mr. Olsen made a motion to approve the minutes as mailed. Mr. Stearns seconded and the motion carried.
IV. Director's Report
Mr. Blackwood began with an update on Montana's 3 Signature Events noting that a National Events Committee has been formed, of which he is a member due to his annual appointment to chair of the Circle of State Advisors. He said the Events Committee has not yet made a decision with regard to the proposals, in spite of press to the contrary that resulted from a letter issued by the National Council. The Events Committee requested additional information by March 1 on the Great Falls Portage proposal and the Clark on the Yellowstone proposal. The Headwaters Festival was dropped from Signature Event status because of its close proximity to the Great Falls event. Mr. Blackwood said that the number of Trail States keeps growing with the addition of 4-5 more states and the National Council is adamant about its desire to only have 12 Signature Events. They must balance the locations to keep the support of the Trail States. Mr. Blackwood reported that the Council committed to make selections by their April 23 meeting in Omaha.
Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance
Mr. Blackwood reported that Indian coordination for the Bicentennial has taken a giant step with the formation of the Montana Tribal Tourism Alliance (MTTA) under the leadership of Darrell Martin and Major Robinson. At this time, Montana reservations are represented with the exception of Rocky Boys.
Public Safety Plan
Mr. Blackwood noted that the Strategic Plan identified the need for a Statewide Public Safety Plan to prepare for unexpected emergencies. Idaho has moved forward with the development of their plan that also involves three western Montana counties. Mr. Blackwood has met with the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services and the Montana Sheriff's and Peace Officer's Association to set development of a plan in motion. A grant application has been submitted to the National Park Service Challenge Cost Share Program for $26,000 in planning funds and Mr. Blackwood is working with the Congressional Delegation, specifically Senator Burns, to secure $100,000 in earmarked funds for Montana. A stakeholders' meeting is scheduled for May 15 in Great Falls to include BLM, FS, and tribal contacts.
Infrastructure Assessment Plan
Mr. Blackwood proposed that rather than hiring a consultant for $100,000-$200,000 to develop an assessment plan of infrastructure needs, dealing with communities through the Regional Bicentennial Commissions by putting them in contact with infrastructure assessment planning tools already available through the Dept. of Commerce and the Dept. of Natural Resources.
Montana Tourism Recreation Initiative (MTRI)
Mr. Blackwood recognized Carol Crocket, coordinator of the interagency bicentennial focus team, MTRI, and said they have applied to the NPS for $30,000 to begin development of corridor and state gateway prototype signage. They are also seeking Congressional funding. He said this and select community projects are the first step in implementing the Interpretive Sign Strategy for Montana.
The Commission's list serve (e-mail update) program is nearly completed. Short, bullet-style updates will be issued to inform subscribers of new information posted on the Commission's website and other pertinent information. Subscribers self-register their e-mail address on the website. Portions of the website have also been linked to the National Council's Circle of Trail Advisor's web page. He reported that Travel Montana is updating their L&C website and we have made video footage available to them. We are also coordinating with them on a calendar of events and helping to identify key sites along the Trail.
U.S. Army Retracement & Relay Run
Mr. Blackwood said the U.S. Army might do a retracement of the Trail, as opposed to a reenactment, utilizing current-day equipment to demonstrate how the Expedition would be accomplished today. This event would be utilized as a recruiting tool. A trail-long relay run is also being considered.
6th Annual National Planning Workshop
The National Planning Workshop is planned for Omaha, April 21-26 during which both the COTA and COSA groups will meet. The National Council will meet on the 23rd and Mr. Blackwood will attend that meeting. The actual planning workshop will take place April 24-25 and both Mr. Blackwood and Ms. Cortright will attend.
National Licensing & Sponsorship Programs
These programs are still under development and the National Council is working with the Carlson Marketing Group. With regard to marketing and research, Mr. Blackwood said there is talk of a meeting of state tourism research people to determine if a second round of research should be conducted to dovetail with the interest and awareness survey conducted a year ago. Mr. Blackwood said there is no news yet regarding a national marketing program.
Mr. Blackwood will attend and speak at a briefing on April 4 in Washington, D.C., where the project inventories compiled by our Commission and the other Trail States would be presented to the House and Senate L&C Caucuses.
Before leaving office, President Clinton made two monument designations in Montana; Pompeys Pillar and the Upper Wild and Scenic Missouri. Mr. Blackwood said there is some debate on whether a challenge to the Upper Missouri designation would be made.
MDOT Highway Commission Meeting
Mr. Blackwood attended a meeting of the Montana Highway Commission. Their members were very interested in L&C Bicentennial planning. He said MDOT would play a role in implementing the Interpretive Sign Strategy and plans to draft a letter on behalf of the Commission to MDOT regarding a proposed rest area at Clark Canyon Dam, which could be a key "staging" area for tourists traveling through Horse Prairie en route to Lemhi Pass.
NPS Challenge Cost Share Grant Applications
The deadline for submitting grants was December 31, and the Commission was a co-applicant on two applications; 1) a $30,000 grant with MTRI for implementation of interpretive signs; and 2) a $26,000 grant with Montana Sheriff's & Peace Officer's (MSPOA) for the Statewide Public Safety Plan. Grant awards will be made by March 1. NPS received 104 applications totaling $2 million.
Mr. Blackwood called for questions. In regard to MDOT and the Clark Canyon Rest Area, Mr. Olsen suggested encouraging the development of unified L&C interpretation for all rest stops in Montana as a means of informing all travelers on the Bicentennial. Signage would provide consistent information with regard to the visitor's location in relation to the Trail. Mr. Blackwood responded that this is part of the first phase of implementation with regard to MTRI's development of prototype gateway signs. Mr. Cohn agreed that L&C interpretive signage should be located at every rest stop statewide Mr. Blackwood agreed to address this idea in his letter to MDOT. Mr. Cohn suggested that Travel Montana and the Tourism Regions would become involved in this effort if MDOT showed an interest. Mr. Monger suggested approaching MDOT with a package and funding, possibly through the Commission's grants program. Mr. Blackwood said the Sign Strategy has been developed and the challenge is securing funding to implement it. He said one of MDOT's concern is maintenance of new signs. Mr. Olsen said most rest stops have sign infrastructure in place and his proposal was to upgrade and utilize what was already in place. Mr. Cohn said his office could help facilitate the presentation of this concept to the Tourism Regions, noting that matching and opportunity funds are available. Ms. Stone said statewide coordination of this effort would be very beneficial. Mr. Cohn recapped his offer to review the rest area network, determine what facilities exist for interpretive signage, and develop a cost estimate to print and replace information two or three times annually. He said then MDT and the Tourism Regions could be approached with a request to include this plan in their next budget cycle as a matching contribution.
VI. Committee Reports
Mr. Blackwood explained that the budget sheet was marked "draft" as we have experienced some discrepancies in coding expenses to categories listed on the budget, in particular the line item for Conference. He reviewed the income and expense categories and grants listed at the bottom of the sheet, noting the addition of a detailed grants summary sheet. Mr. Blackwood said a final budget would be mailed shortly.
Ms. Cortright reviewed the handout on the 2000 Grants Program Summary noting that 17 grants totaling $200,078 were awarded in June 2000. Funding partners were US West, MDOT and the Commission. At its October 2000 meeting the Commission determined to make Organization and Planning Grants available to the RBC's and Tribes up to $2,500 each. Applications were mailed in November with a deadline of December 15. Staff performed in-house review to ensure compliance with the grants criteria. A Letter of Agreement was utilized this time in place of a contract. Fourteen RBC's and four Tribes applied for and received grants for a total of $43,223 (see handout). The Guidelines and Application for the 2001 Grants Program were distributed for review and reflect slight modifications from last year's forms. This year's funding partners include the Commission ($6,777), Tourism Advisory Council/Travel Montana ($50,000), and Montana DOT ($100,000). The Commission's portion reflects the balance remaining after the O&P Grants were awarded and she said additional funding partners would be sought. Following this meeting the applications will be made available to the public, posted on the Commission's website, and announced in the Commission's first list-serve message. The application deadline is April 13, 2001. Mr. Blackwood said as the fiscal year-end nears, any unexpended funds could be redirected to the grants program. A decision would be made at the June Commission meeting when the 7-member Grants Committee makes their recommendations. Mr. Monger thanked Ms. Cortright for her efforts on behalf of the Grants Committee. Mr. Blackwood said he would present options for grants administration at the June Commission meeting, as the program will continue to grow with this year's grant awards, thus increasing the monitoring and compliance oversight that must take place in accordance with the Grant Contracts. Ms. Stone reviewed the Grants Committee membership, Jack Lepley, Curley Youpee, Doug Monger and Kathy Doeden, and requested timely notice from any member who might not be able to fulfill their commitment to score applications.
Mr. Stearns reported that 18 people attended yesterday's committee meeting. He reviewed the agenda items; 1) serving as a clearinghouse of information, 2) L&C "101" video, 3) the Education Resource Directory, and 4) the Symposium. Mr. Stearns noted that the number of L&C websites has grown to over 600. Jeri Mae Rowley, Flathead Community College and SUPERHOST Program Coordinator, reported to the Committee on her progress with development of the "101" video. Ms. Rowley will utilize the 15-minute video first as part of the 3 ½ hour SUPERHOST training program this spring and will debut the video at the Governor's Tourism Conference March 26-27 in Helena. Mr. Stearns noted there is already strong interest in obtaining the video and the Committee anticipates its wide distribution following its use by SUPERHOST. He reported on the Committee's discussion on the need for printed material to accompany the video. Mr. Stearns next addressed continued planning for the Symposium, "A Confluence of Cultures: Native Americans and the Expedition of Lewis and Clark." During a recent meeting with the newly formed L&C group on the UM Campus, the Commission's Symposium plans were discussed and it was learned that UM had plans for a similar Symposium. As a result, UM has proposed combining efforts and has offered to co-host the event. They offered a conference center for the event, funding for a graduate student to serve the event organizer, and will send university faculty to tribal colleges and conduct a workshop at UM. Darrell Kipp has already issued announcement letters on the Symposium to all Tribal Colleges nationwide. Dr. Dorothy Still Smoking, president of Blackfeet Community College, has agreed to make a presentation at the coming AIHEC Conference, outlining the proposal and seeking commitments from the various colleges. The Symposium will incorporate Indian student participation in the form academic papers, music, dance, and theater. The planners for the Great Falls Signature Event have expressed interest in possibly tying the Symposium to the proposed Signature Event in Great Falls in 2005. The idea of the Symposium being a national-level event will be addressed at the COTA gathering during the National Council's meeting in Omaha in April. Mr. Stearns said the Symposium sub-committee will meet with the UM sub-committee on Tuesday, March 13, in Missoula. The Education Committee will meet next on Monday, June 11, in Missoula. The last topic discussed during the Education Committee was an Education Resource Directory being developed under the direction of Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer, Project WET and The Watercourse, MSU. Once completed the Montana Directory will be distributed free of charge. A National Directory will be compiled and sold with the proceeds going to update and distribute the Montana Directory. Mr. Stearns closed by saying the level of excitement is growing with regard to the educational component of the Expedition. Ms. Stone asked for Commission consensus on the proposed direction the Education Committee. Ms. Ryan spoke in support of partnering with UM. Mr. Cohn asked if the Symposium plans were coming to the Commission in the form of a recommendation and Mr. Stearns said they were. Ms. Stone asked if members of the Commission had any concerns. Hearing none she directed the Education Committee to 'proceed on' with the Symposium planning for 2002 or 2003.
Licensing, Endorsement & Promotion
Mr. Olsen referred to the summary handout and explained that the committee has been working with The Hingston Roach Group (THRG) regarding to how to proceed with the fundraising strategy. THRG had submitted a paper outlining three options. The Committee, during a conference call, settled on "Option 2 - Be "proactive" in searching for, and securing funding." This in-house approach would mean hiring an additional staff member and laying out a strategy for fundraising. This proposal will be presented in more detail at the June Commission meeting. Ms. Stone said the hiring would be contingent on funding from the Legislature.
Ms. Stone recognized Ron Clark and invited him to address the Commission regarding licensing. Mr. Clark said he was interested to know the Commission's plans with regard to licensing and expressed concern that nothing has taken place in a year and a half. Ms. Stone responded that there have been several contributing factors; waiting for the completion of the Master Plan; waiting for the proposal from THRG, and waiting to see what the National Council is planning on the national level. She also said the state Commission is awaiting the outcome of funding through the Legislature, which would allow for the hiring of a person to develop the program. She said the Commission is working toward the goal, but at this time was unable to make a decision with regard to a Licensing Program. Mr. Clark said he was not insinuating that the Commission was not working hard, but said this is a large issue and one that the National Council was struggling with. He referred to large problems confronting the National Council that he felt were affecting the state Commission's ability to move forward. Mr. Clark said he has approached the National Council in a cooperative spirit and they have taken a very adversarial role. He plans to attend the meeting on Omaha, and made reference to a closed segment of the Council's meeting in Portland. Mr. Clark expressed frustration with the lack of progress. Mr. Blackwood replied that the committee had previously recommended that the state Commission not undertake a traditional product-licensing program as a stand-alone (Montana-only) effort. He also referred to the National Council's promised proposal to be presented in Omaha and said it was his intent to come back in June with more direction than we have today. Mr. Cohn said there would come a point when we would not be able to wait any longer for the National Council, as is the case now with the advertising campaign. Mr. Clark said he believes the National Council is struggling with the issue of trademarks. He restated his interest in product licensing and his desire to work with the Commission, but said at some point he would stop attending meetings and would pursue his own course. Ms. Stone said the Commission understood his point and thanked him for his comments.
Lunch was served.
IX. Pompeys Pillar Update
Mr. Blackwood reported on United Harvest's rapid-load grain facility proposed for construction immediately adjacent to the Pillar. At last October's meeting the Commission was asked what role they wished to play in this matter. He reported that the Pompeys Pillar Association and others in the Billings area have been attempting to halt construction and seek relocation of the elevator. After Ms. Stone visited with Gov. Racicot, Mr. Blackwood was directed to visit with United Harvest in Portland in late October. During that visit the company's president asked Mr. Blackwood if the Commission would take the lead in convening a meeting of the parties. Gov. Racicot agreed that this was an appropriate role for the Commission. Mr. Blackwood approached the Montana Consensus Council and for $2,500 they agreed to serve as mediator. The fee was split among 5 groups and the Commission's portion was $500.00. The Consensus Council held meetings with the parties to determine their positions and alternatives, and created an assessment document. Two conference calls were held and at the end of January it was agreed to continue working toward an amicable solution. Mr. Blackwood said the potential exists for a funding source to buy out United Harvest's interest in the current site and the elevator would be relocated. Jeff Olson, Trail Coordinator for the Trail Heritage Foundation, has emerged as the lead in the effort to secure funding and negotiations are ongoing at this time. An appeals hearing date of March 21 has been set with respect to the air quality permit issued to United Harvest by DEQ. Mr. Blackwood said there is a chance that this permit could be revoked, which would halt further construction. If the permit is reissued, construction could resume, and Jack Light said the Pillar Association would most likely appeal that decision. The Commission has stepped back now and Mr. Olson and others involved will move forward. Kim Prill reported on her conversation with Barb Pahl, National Trust for Historic Preservation, in which they discussed the possibility of Pompeys Pillar being listed as one of the top 11 most endangered sites. Mr. Light, on behalf of Pompeys Pillar Association, expressed his appreciation for Mr. Blackwood's involvement in seeking a resolution to the situation. Ms. Prill was asked to report on the $2 million Congressional grant awarded to BLM for the Pompeys Pillar area. She reported that an E.A. process has begun for the visitor center and hoped it would be released by early June. The proposed alternatives range from 'do nothing' to 'construction of a $9.5 million visitor center.'
XII. Corps II Traveling Classroom
Gerard Baker, NPS, addressed plans for the Corps II Traveling Classroom. He provided a handout on the Corps of Discovery II, as well as samples of the lapel pins pictured on the handout and a Project Proposal. Mr. Baker explained the Corps II concept of a traveling classroom housed in 3 semi-trailers that will retrace the Trail on anniversary dates, stopping as much as possible at actual locations noted in the journals. One vehicle will contain a classroom with artifacts; another will house multi-media, and the third will serve as a support vehicle. Mr. Baker will be working with state commissions, the MTTA, and an M.O.U. group comprised of the Corps of Engineers, FS, BLM, BIA, and NPS to discuss implementation of the Corps II program. He reported hearing strong concerns voiced by communities with regard to infrastructure. It is his desire to have communities and Tribes tell their story in their own words. He said NPS plans to hold training sessions to assist people with interpretation development. Mr. Baker said his first position was Supt. Of Corps II; he has now taken over the entire L&C project, which means the trails, Corps II and Challenge Cost Share program. Mr. Williams is still Trail Manager, and his staff will expand by 4 people in the near future. Two planners will be hired to work with communities and groups to evaluate infrastructure and determine the best set-up locations for Corps II. Mr. Baker touched briefly on the Army's plan for a Bicentennial Run planned to take place every summer. Mr. Baker expressed concern with the Army's version of Corps II (a retracement), as they will be in army style military fatigues, and have not yet made appropriate contact with the Tribes. He said a national biking association also plans to follow the Trail based on the journals, and a group will be coming up river from St. Louis in keelboats. Mr. Baker said Corps II could possibly help disperse some of the crowds by locating in adjacent areas. He said they have no estimates at this time on the number of visitor. Mr. Baker spoke briefly on the Challenge Cost Share program, noting 104 applications for $2 million were received; NPS has $1 million to grant. The grant award announcement is expected in late March or early April. Mr. Baker called for questions. Mr. Blackwood asked for reassurance that Corps II would work with and support community projects and events and Mr. Baker said Corps II is designed to compliment community programs. Mr. Cohn suggested that state bicentennial commissions and tourism marketing groups could serve as a great resource for Corps II. Mr. Blackwood asked if Corps II would cover both rivers to the coast and back and Mr. Backer said they would cover the entire Trail. Ms. Doeden asked if a timeline or schedule would be compiled and made available to facilitate planning of other events and Mr. Baker said this definitely would be done. They hope to plan 6 months in advance with communities, and a planning team will be working 3-4 weeks in advance of the actual vehicles. Richard Hopkins said a lot of work remains to be done with the Tribes and they need confirmation that these plans will really happen. Mr. Baker said he would be happy to meet with tribal representatives and asked Mr. Hopkins to help arrange a follow-up meeting. Mr. Monger asked about funding and Mr. Baker answered that Corps II and other L&C projects have an annual allocation of $1.6 million and they are working with the Carlson Marketing Group to secure sponsors. He reported that Lands End is coming on board to supply tents and work continues with National Geographic, Smithsonian, the Ford Foundation and others. Mr. Martin cautioned against the use of 'celebration' in reference to the Bicentennial and Mr. Baker agreed that 'celebration' would not be used. He referred to the Bicentennial as a 'historical event or commemoration.' He said there is great excitement as this is being viewed as an Indian story this time, and people want to learn what happened to the Tribes and their culture. He stressed that nobody's story will be censored. Mr. Baker thanked the Commission for the opportunity to address them.
VII. Marketing Strategy Update
Matthew Cohn referred to the marketing section of the Commission's Strategic Plan that called for spending marketing dollars earlier as opposed to later in an effort to influence visitors to come ahead of the actual events rather than during the events. Mr. Cohn said his initial reaction was one of skepticism. Over the last six months Mr. Cohn, the Travel Montana team and their ad agency have been reviewing a variety of factors and he has come to agree with the recommendation in the Plan. He said because the National Observance begins in January 2003, Montana should take advantage and piggy back off the national media and sponsorships. However, he remains skeptical of the visitation estimates, saying an additional 4 million people per year in 2005 and 2006 is mind boggling. Mr. Cohn said marketing will not affect the L&C aficionados, but the visitor survey indicated that 48% of those surveyed were somewhat to very interested in L&C events in Montana, after being exposed to a description of the commemoration; 36% said they were likely to attend something. He plans to begin marketing the ongoing community events much earlier, and for the casual observer, he will try to influence their decision to visit in 2002-04 as opposed to 2005-06. Mr. Cohn said this would not be easy to accomplish and would be very expensive. He proposed that beginning in the spring and summer of 2002, the major focus of the Montana warm season marketing campaign would be L&C related which would work to attract L&C visitors to Montana in 2003, the official start of the National Bicentennial. Travel Montana currently spends $1.6 to $1.8 for spring/summer advertising, and they propose committing $1 million of that amount toward L&C themes. He said this commitment might require securing additional funds. He expects this campaign will impact the state in the form of increased visitation, and will therefore generate additional bed tax dollars. In terms of print media, 5-6 magazines have been identified that will carry L&C inserts; i.e., Smithsonian, American Heritage, Preservation, Travel & Leisure. He has already discussed this plan with the Tourism Regions as they are already preparing their marketing plans for 2002 and their boards will be meeting over the next 2-3 months to commit dollars. Mr. Cohn said Travel Montana is in the midst of revamping their L&C section of their Internet site. He said the focus of much of their advertising will be to drive contacts to the website or through their toll-free number. They are working with UM to digitize a lot of the Ken Burns video footage for inclusion on the website. Mr. Cohn expects to spend $20,000 - $30,000 shooting additional video footage this summer. They will also be utilizing e-mail databases to establish "opt in e-mail" targeted to specific areas of interest. Mr. Cohn listed the percentages to be expended by year: 30% - 2002; 30% - 2003; 20% - 2004; 10% - 2005; 10% - 2006. The marketing plan will be finalized by June and once the Legislature is over a dollar amount will be attached. He said this is risky, but success or failure will be shown by 2004-05. Spending 80% before 2005 was outlined in the Strategic Plan, and TAC has approved the multi-million dollar campaign concept. Mr. Cohn has spoken with neighboring states regarding their promotions and apparently none of the others have plans at this time to promote early. He said Montana's message would be, "Get to Montana." Mr. Blackwood expressed concern with the 10% designated in 2006. Mr. Cohn said he would re-evaluate in 2004 and if more bed tax money comes in, more money would be available for promotion. Mr. Blackwood said it would be crucial to keep land managers and agencies informed on the emphasis to get tourists here earlier. Mr. Cohn said the plan would be posted on Travel Montana's Intranet Site and referenced in both Travel Montana's and the Commission's updates. Mr. Cohn was asked about the planning horizon for people planning vacations and he responded that it is now 1-3 months out. He spoke about Travel Montana's plans for targeted advertising campaigns. Mr. Stearns asked if there would be a larger L&C component each year in the 6 Tourism Region's promotional materials, and Mr. Cohn responded that there would not, that more people are turning to the website for information. Mr. Stearns was concerned about collateral follow-up materials and Mr. Cohn agreed there would be a continued need for them. Mr. Skiba asked how widely Travel Montana would distribute its marketing plan. Mr. Cohn said the plan would be finalized by June and posted on the Intranet Site. Mr. Skiba said spending 30% of the marketing budget a year ahead of the Bicentennial in an effort to entice early visitation was big news, as everyone at this point is planning for the onslaught in 2003. He urged the Commission to publicize this plan statewide. Ms. Stone agreed that the plan should be widely disseminated as soon as it is completed.
VIII. Events Endorsement Program
Mr. Blackwood reported that he was directed at the last Commission meeting to research the potential liability if the Commission entered into an endorsement program. Paul Johnson, Dept. of Justice, has provided Mr. Blackwood with a briefing that states the responsibility revolves around a term called "possessed and exercised control." As long as the Commission does not try to control especially the public safety segment of an event, there would be no vicarious liability assigned to the Commission. Mr. Johnson wrote, "the Commission must take care in the general administration of these programs to avoid any assertion of actual control over the context of the Bicentennial event being endorsed or registered, particularly with respect to issues such as public safety and security." Mr. Blackwood asked for permission to work to further flesh out an Endorsement Program. He referred to the guidelines in the Master Plan for judging the historical accuracy and cultural inclusively, but said it would probably take a committee to set criteria, and then review applications, possibly on an annual basis. Those meeting the criteria would receive a certificate and be listed in a Calendar of Events as being officially endorsed by the Commission. Mr. Blackwood said he frequently receives inquires on plans for an Endorsement Program. He said from the visitor's viewpoint, they could potentially choose from hundreds or thousands of events over the course of the Observance, and those carrying an endorsement might be held in a slightly higher image for the visitor. Ms. Doeden asked if this endorsement would apply to non-profit as well as for-profit events, noting that it might create competition for the private entrepreneur who does not receive endorsement. Mr. Blackwood said this determination has not yet been made. Ms. Stone asked for direction from the Commission. Mr. Cohn said Travel Montana produces an inclusive Calendar of Events, and questioned what benefit would be derived from event sanctioning. He said he understood why people would seek endorsement, but was uncomfortable with the idea. Ms. Ryan asked what advantage the Commission would derive. Mr. Blackwood said it would serve as a visibility/credibility tool and would raise the level of awareness of the Commission. Ms. Ryan questioned whether that should be the goal of the Commission. Mr. Lepley questioned whether the Commission had a responsibility to help provide a good experience for the visitor. Mr. Martin said there was no way to predict or guarantee that a visitor would have a good experience. Mr. Lepley raised the historical accuracy issue as outlined in the Master Plan. Mr. Cohn said the Commission had a responsibility to set out guidelines and expectations. Mr. Blackwood said it was never his intention to make the Endorsement Plan enforceable. Ms. Doeden suggested that what people really desired was listing and exposure for their events. Ms. Stone said she sees the Endorsement Plan as a mechanism to communicate the Commission's expectations for quality events to event planners. Mr. Stearns said communities would proceed with their plans in spite of Commission endorsement. Mr. Blackwood said this is not a 'burning issue' but there is an expectation on the part of the public that an endorsement component will be included as has been the case with the Centennial and other observances. Mr. Baker spoke in support of presenting the reality in history. He recommended endorsing everyone, based on providing them the guidelines. Ms. Stone tabled this issue until the next meeting.
X. Master Plan Distribution, Review and Implementation Efforts
Mr. Blackwood said 500 copies of the Plan were distributed in mid-December. He reviewed the distribution list and said there are 150 copies on hand. The 500 copies of the Executive Summary are almost all distributed and additional copies have been ordered. The Plan has been posted on the Commission's web page.
XIII. June Meeting & Fall Conference
Mr. Blackwood proposed holding a Regional Bicentennial Commission meeting in conjunction with the June Commission meeting. He proposed including MTTA at that meeting.
Ms. Stone said originally the June Commission meeting was planned for Billings/Pompeys Pillar, but as plans progressed for the Fall Conference, Billings was chosen as the site for the fall meeting. Mr. Blackwood reported that Jeff Dietz with the Yellowstone Bicentennial Commission was comfortable with the change in venue for the June meeting. In an effort to spread the meeting locations across the state, Missoula was proposed as a site for the June meeting. Mr. Stearns responded that in light of the cooperation between UM and the Commission on the Symposium, the University offered space and a lunch for the June meeting. The Education Committee plans to meet on the day prior to the Commission meeting. Mr. Stearns said this would allow for a tour of the Travelers' Rest campsite the evening of June 11. The October Commission meeting is planned for October 10-11, with the Conference beginning on the afternoon of the 11th and running through mid-afternoon on the 12th. This would allow for a visit to the Pillar, which is 30 miles east of Billings. The Commission agreed on Missoula for the June 12 meeting.
Mr. Blackwood asked for workshop topics for the Fall Conference and Ms. Doeden suggested one on water-related topics, such as outfitters' licenses, floater's regulations, and private property concerns addressed by agency representatives. Mr. Baker offered a segment by NPS on general interpretation.
XIV. Old Business
Travel Expense Guidelines
Ms. Stone addressed Travel Expense Guidelines and explained her reasons for flying to meetings as opposed to traveling by car. Mr. Blackwood said questions regarding travel expense reimbursement were raised in the Commission's recent state audit. The current Commission policy allows for reimbursement of $100 in expenses and registration fees to conferences. The auditors have stated that this policy violates state law. They have instructed that if a Commissioner travels as a representative of the Commission, the full travel expense allowance must be paid. In this case, all or a portion of the expenses received could be donated back to the L&C Commission's budget. If a Commissioner travels based on personal interest, none of the expenses could be claimed for reimbursement. Mr. Blackwood said the reality is that the budget does not allow for much of an increase in travel expenses. He said the auditors might also address honorariums in their final report. Presently, Commissioners are paid $50/day for commission meetings and not for committee meetings. Mr. Blackwood said there is a question as to whether this Commission meets the statutory requirement that allows for honorarium payments. To date the auditors have not said that the practice must cease, but they might. An exit interview is scheduled with the auditors for late February and if they recommend ceasing this practice, legislation could be introduced to amend the Commission's enacting statute to allow for honorariums.
Mr. Blackwood suggested addressing the issues separately. Ms. Stone explained that her mileage and lodging expenses total about $310 compared to airfare of $398. Ms. Doeden said her airfare was $295 this trip. Mr. Cohn expressed appreciation for the intent to utilize the available funds in a conservative manner, but recommended that commissioners should take whatever mode of travel best fits their schedules. Ms. Stone said if the Commission was comfortable with that approach, she was also, but wanted them to know outright what the expenses were and wanted to provide an opportunity to address those concerns. Mr. Cohn suggested that Ms. Cortright contact his office regarding the purchase of bulk tickets from Big Sky Airlines. Ms. Stone called for a motion. Mr. Cohn made a motion that the Commission's policy on travel reimbursement be revised to comply with state law. Ms. Doeden seconded and the motion carried. Mr. Blackwood asked commissioners to contact him prior to making travel arrangements to allow for a check of the budget. Attendance at the Omaha conference was discussed and both Mr. Stearns and Mr. Lepley indicated their plans to attend. Mr. Lepley said he did not wish to be reimbursed for the total expense. Mr. Blackwood cautioned that the travel budget is not large enough to allow for much additional travel, but did not feel it would be fair for the Commission make a policy statement that all but $200 of the incurred expenses be reimbursed to the Commission. Mr. Martin suggested that the Commission could select delegates in advance to attend meetings. Ms. Stone asked if the budget would allow for sending 4 representatives to Omaha. Mr. Stearns addressed the honorarium issue and said he felt that commissioners should also receive the $50/day honorarium for attending committee meetings. Mr. Blackwood said the budget line item for commission travel is $8,000 and last year that amount was expended to within $500, and allowed for travel expenses to three commission meetings and conference attendance under the previous policy. He proposed individual conversations with commissioners to determine the impact on the budget. Mr. Stearns suggested increasing the travel budget for next year. Mr. Blackwood offered to determine if a policy could be developed based on the new understanding of travel reimbursement policy for discussion at the June meeting.
Review of Committees
Ms. Stone said with the change in membership on the Commission, there were vacancies now on the Education, Events/Calendar Coordination and Funding committees. She called for volunteers and Darrell Martin joined the Education Committee; and Kathy Doeden accepted the chair of the Events/Calendar Coordination Committee. Ms. Stone left the position open on the Funding Committee.
Mr. Blackwood announced that office relocation would be addressed once the Legislature concluded and said he is holding out hope that the Montana Heritage Commission would move with the Commission office.
Certificates were signed for Edythe McCleary and Jeanne Eder and will also be prepared for Leif Johnson and Terry Korpela.
XV. New Business
Because election of officers will be on the June meeting agenda, Ms. Stone called for volunteers to serve on the Nominating Committee. Mr. Olsen and Ms. Ryan were named to the committee.
Ms. Doeden asked if the Public Safety Plan meeting scheduled for May would be posted on the website. Mr. Blackwood responded that information on the meeting would be communicated through the Regional Bicentennial Commission updates and in the Director's Report. He said once the Plan is completed it would be made available through a number of different methods. She also inquired regarding the possible closure of the rest area overlooking the Yellowstone and asked if it would be appropriate to contact MDOT. Mr. Blackwood responded that it would be very appropriate. Mr. Blackwood asked about the rest stop proposed for Pompeys Pillar and Mr. Light responded that there would not be a rest stop there, but plans are to locate one between Pompeys Pillar and Custer.
Ms. Stone called for a motion to adjourn at 3:00 p.m. Ms. Ryan moved to adjourn; Mr. Martin seconded and the motion carried.
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