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86 The Forest Service would not begin implementing the new management direction until forty-five days plus five working days after the decision was published in the local newspaper. Implementation would be postponed if the decision came under administrative appeal during that period. Two appeals were filed within that time frame—one by the Access Fund, the other by climber Terry Lilienfield—and so the climbing ban did not go into effect. The decision was rendered on July 8, 2003, and the Final Environmental Impact Statement signed on August 5. The appeals were filed with the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office in September. They would first be considered by an appeal reviewing officer and then sent for final dispensation to the regional forester. On November 5, 2003, Deputy Regional Forester Kent P. Connaughton affirmed Forest Supervisor Gustafson’s decision. The appeal reviewing officer had reported that the Cave Rock decision was appropriate in that “all laws, policies, and regulations were followed.” Connaughton commented on each issue raised by the appellants and found that each was addressed adequately in the impact statement and “Record of Decision.”1 Lilienfield said she was disappointed by that decision because she felt that climbers were being singled out, but she would not continue the fight. The Access Fund was another matter. Attorney Paul Minault protested that the Forest Service’s multiuse mandate is meant to ensure balanced usage of federal lands. “I can’t think of any precedent for this,” he said. “It seems to us if the Forest Service is really sincere in resolving the conflict, it would find a middle ground.” He contended that the dispute had nearly been resolved when Juan Palma was the forest supervisor. The tack of portraying Gustafson as a new supervisor who entered the process halfway through and was unwilling to find a compromise solution would become part of the case the Access Fund presented to the public.2 e l e v e n New Directions new directions   87 In December 2003 Steve Matuse, the Access Fund’s executive director, announced that the organization had filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ban. He told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that “the Access Fund at one time had an acceptable plan worked out with the forest supervisor who preceded Gustafson.” A “Cave Rock q & a” section on the fund’s Website posed the question: “Who was involved in making that decision and how did the planning process occur?” The answer first mistakenly said that the “acknowledged traditional Washoe belief” held that Cave Rock should be “avoided by all people except for only a few male Washoe religious practitioners.” The Website then portrayed Gustafson’s actions as unwarranted supervening. After three years under the preferred alternative 2, which allowed limited climbing, the fund charged, “a new forest supervisor , Maribeth Gustafson, abruptly reversed the previous management direction at Cave Rock by unexpectedly introducing a completely new Alternative 6 . . . and thus essentially rejected the years of hard work and consultation with the various interested parties.”3 The Access Fund had changed its public relations strategy after the 1997 Davidson editorial debacle, which had presented disparaging remarks about sacred sites. As in all Access Fund postings regarding Cave Rock since, Matuse stressed that the organization’s complaint involved the Forest Service, not the Washoe tribe. The Access Fund routinely negotiated with Native groups to resolve conflicts, he said, giving the example of one of their directors who had traveled to northern California to meet with tribal representatives over a burial site issue the week before. Matuse commented that the Cave Rock situation was more complicated because the Washoes “have never spoken to us and refuse to speak to us.”4 At the filing of the Access Fund’s lawsuit, the Forest Service again agreed to postpone implementation of the ban. It was not until January 28, 2005, a year and a half after Gustafson announced her decision, that the case came before District Court Judge Howard McKibben in Reno. Observers found it difficult to speculate how McKibben might view it based on his previous decisions. His rulings followed legal precedents and statutory provisions, but he did not issue written records explaining his findings. In several suits filed by Native Americans he had supported government entities over tribal interests. In a highly publicized case in 1993, for example, McKibben issued a nine-month jail sentence to an elderly Western Shoshone man found 88 cave rock   guilty of assaulting a federal officer. The man had...


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MARC Record
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