Our parents always said we should share. Well, that sharing includes rock climbers and birds in the Bitterroot Valley. The hugely popular Mill Creek Canyon has great routes for those who like head up the cliffs. But those cliffs also are a prime residential area for large raptors such as peregrine falcons or golden eagles.

The "sharing" time is only part of the year, when the birds are nesting and rearing their young. And that time is now. As of February 1st, the annual climbing restrictions are now in place for Mill Creek Canyon. Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said that the restrictions are the same as last year, mainly on the north side, including the "Pie for Strength" climbing area. And, as was the case last year, there are cliffs on the south side of the canyon that have been closed off to climbers. Nests have been found there, too.

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Again, this is an annual seasonal closure, with the temporary closure maps posted at area trailheads. Officials will determine if there is activity in the nests this spring. The Mill Creek situation has led to a more comprehensive Climbing Management Plan, which is being drafted for all of the Bitterroot National Forest. That plan is including public input and hopes to reduce conflicts and yet protect the great climbing routes as well as the natural resources. Check the climbing tips and recommendations at the Bitterroot National Forest website. Or you can get more information from the Stevensville Ranger District at 406 777-5461. Oh, the Bitterroot National Forest has a great Facebook page, too!

golden eagle
Golden Eagle in flight. (Bob Danley photo)

And, no matter if you're in Mill Creek hiking, horseback riding or climbing, remember to follow the "Leave No Trace" and the "Pack It In, Pack It Out" principles that are keeping our Bitterroot Valley outdoor experiences memorable. There are pamphlets at every Forest Service office in Ravalli County.

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