Situation . . : :
Idaho's outfitters and guides are the primary drivers of the state's fastest-growing industry: recreation and tourism. In 1998 and beyond, they face a significant business threat from the federal government: the U.S. Forest Service proposes float party reductions of up to one-half on two of the nation's signature whitewater river trips - the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the main Salmon River. The rivers lie within the largest mountain wilderness in the lower 48 states - the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
The Idaho Outfitters & Guides Association asks Scott Peyron & Associates to help them roll back the proposed deep cuts in public access to the wilderness.
The firm recommends strategic action even before the extent of the government's proposed actions are revealed in a draft environmental impact statement. A public relations campaign intended to influence public opinion and activate Idaho communities and political leaders is developed.
Strategy . . : :
Demonstrate outfitters' and guides' leadership role as big buyers in vulnerable communities. Organize and arm a cadre of client presenters who tell the story of commitment to safeguarding the wilderness and contributing to delicate local economies. Develop campaign collateral materials that speak to these principles.
Urge development of a "bullet proof" economic analysis establishing the degree of harm of proposed cuts in Idaho communities. Employ information to raise political stakes of the debate.
Develop and leverage coalition of river advocates - including frequent adversaries such as jet-boaters, environmental groups, kayakers and rafting organizations - to articulate broad opposition to federal restriction on public access.
Develop strategic public affairs strategy to spur action among Idaho's congressional delegation and community leaders across affected area. Focus arguments on the economic damage from unwarranted proposed cuts on an already well-managed wilderness.
Undertake low-cost national media relations initiative to expose forest service plans to floaters outside Idaho while there is still time to roll back proposed cuts. Engage editorial boards in Idaho in the discussion.
Demonstrate the exceptionally high quality of Idaho's wilderness under management policies that include the long-standing partnership of Idaho's outfitters and guides.
Outcome . . : :
Key daily newspapers - including the Washington Post - publish "think pieces" about the Old West-New West clash embodied in federal lands management. They cite the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and Grand Canyon as prime case studies where wilderness purists are challenged by recreationists.
Media coverage places Forest Service on defensive and at a distinct disadvantage where management planning team lives - the communities of Idaho.
Forest Service officials express shock at the severity of reaction to their plans for steep cuts in river use. Supervisors of the four forests that comprise the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness pledge to take float party cuts "off the table before a final environmental impact statement is adopted for the wilderness.
Outfitter-authored management "faucets" are proposed for the Forest Service's final environmental impact statement. These measures allow federal agencies to more sensitively regulate river use during peak season without float party size reductions.