Mutual Unerstanding Agreement by wbz18739


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                                  Search and Rescue in Wilderness
    Most potential problems between the Forest Service and County Sheriff Departments
    that hinder efficient Search and Rescue operations can be prevented through
    improved communications.

    In preparation for the upcoming meeting between Sheriff Wayne Tousley and
    Regional Foresters Blackwell and Troyer, Region One has put together this briefing
    paper to respond to suggested topics of discussion.

    Practices resulting in effective relationships and successful search and rescue
        District Rangers and Forest Supervisors develop and maintain a close working
           relationship with the County Sheriff.
        Forest and/or district wilderness managers develop and maintain a relationship
           with the SAR coordinator from the Sheriff’s department.
        Forests develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sheriff that
           outlines procedures that will be used for searches and rescues. This is
           reviewed annually and updated with names and contact information of Forest
           Service and sheriff department.
        If a problem arises, Sheriff and District Ranger or Forest Supervisor should
           meet immediately to discuss and resolve the problem to prevent it from
           occurring again.

    Areas of inconsistency:
        The most common inconsistency seems to be who can approve motorized
           equipment and mechanical transport and under what circumstances. This can
           be resolved by meeting annually to review policy and procedures and to
           identify current contact information. The Forest Service should make sure
           that there is a current contact list provided to the Sheriff.
        Problems can occur when the Sheriff’s department contracts with a SAR
           organization and the contractor is not aware of Forest Service law and policy
           and/or a MOU. In these cases, the Sheriff’s department must take
           responsibility to make sure their contractor either understands law and policy
           or works directly with the Forest Service as the Sheriff’s representative.

Development of a template MOU—Several forests in Region One have developed
MOUs with the local Sheriff Department. The attached MOU between the Gallatin NF
and Gallatin County gives an idea of what an MOU may include.

Training, communication and networking—As mentioned above, there is no substitute
for a good relationship between the Forest Supervisor and/or District Ranger and the
Sheriff and a good working relationship between the field wilderness manager and the
SAR coordinator. Many problems will be alleviated if there is a good relationship with
open communication and trust. Other ideas for training include:
      Train wilderness rangers/managers/line officers on wilderness law and policy so
       that they understand the Sheriff’s role versus Forest Service role in SAR.
       Invite Sheriff and/or SAR coordinator to wilderness training sessions and/or
       meetings to present their policy and concerns. We have had either a County
       Sheriff or the County Search and Rescue Coordinator come to our Winter
       Wilderness meetings several times now. It gives them the opportunity to let us
       know if they see any room for improvement and for us to do the same. Again, it
       just increases trust and improves communications.
      Give wilderness rangers hands-on training on their role in SAR operations, safe
       movement around helicopters, etc.

Search and Rescue and Forest Service practices that maintain wilderness character:

      Forest Service units must ensure that Sheriff’s departments understand law and
       policy as it relates to SAR in wilderness. Processes for approval of motorized
       equipment and mechanical transport must be current and clearly understood. The
       Forest Service should safeguard against any delays in approval during an
      The Sheriff’s department should make sure that their SAR coordinator and/or
       contractor understands law and policy as it relates to SAR in wilderness. They
       should be sensitive to law and policy and seek out alternatives to motorized
       equipment and mechanical transport particularly when the situation is not life
      Both organizations need to build relationships and consider an MOU if desired.

   Region One forests have generally had good relationships with the local Sheriff’s
   department and have not had problems with search and rescue operations in
   wilderness. The Forest Service has had problems occasionally when the SAR
   operations are contracted out and the contractor isn’t aware of Forest Service law and
   policy. In this case, the Forest Service has contacted the local Sheriff and they have
   intervened with the contractor.
                               Between the

                                 And the

                            USDA FOREST SERVICE,
                          GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST

This Memorandum of Understanding (agreement) is hereby made and entered into by and
between Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, hereinafter referred to as the County, and the
United States Department of Agriculture-Forest Service, Gallatin National Forest,
hereinafter referred to as the Forest Service.


The purpose of this agreement is to establish a framework for cooperation regarding
search and rescue activities between the County and the Forest Service as referenced in
the attached and hereby incorporated Exhibit A, Guidelines and Operating Plan.


Search and Rescue (SAR) operations on National Forest lands in Gallatin County fall
under the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff (Forest Service Manual 1599). The Sheriff’s
Department personnel are trained and have the responsibility for conducting SAR

The Forest Service role is one of support and cooperation with local officials. The
inclusion of Forest Service personnel with SAR operations can also help to prevent
unnecessary resource damage and provide travel and access information critical to search
and rescue efforts.

It is of mutual benefit to conduct search and rescue operations in a way that is responsive
to the party in need and sensitive to Wilderness values.


   A. Perform in accordance with the attached Exhibit A, Guidelines and Operating

  A. Perform in accordance with the attached Exhibit A, Guidelines and Operating


  A. PRINCIPAL CONTACTS. The principal contacts for this agreement are:

     Jose Castro                               Jim Cashell
     Bozeman District Ranger                   Gallatin County Sheriff
     3710 Fallon St. Suite C                   615 S. 16’th St. Law and Justice Ctr.
     Bozeman, MT 59718                         Bozeman, MT 59715
     Phone: 406-522-2520                       Phone: 406 587-2100
     FAX: 406-522-2528                         FAX:406-582-2126
     E-Mail:                 E-Mail

  B. Both parties shall make themselves available at least once a year to discuss and
     assess the adequacy, effectiveness, and continuing need for the agreement. If a
     modification becomes necessary, it should be done in accordance with provision
     V-H of this agreement.

  C. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA). Any information furnished to
     the Forest Service under this agreement is subject to the Freedom of Information
     Act (5 U.S.C. 552).

  D. NON-FUND OBLIGATING DOCUMENT. Nothing in this agreement shall
     obligate either the Forest Service or the County to obligate or transfer any funds.
     Specific work projects or activities that involve the transfer of funds, services, or
     property among the various agencies and offices of the Forest Service and the
     County will require execution of separate agreements and be contingent upon the
     availability of appropriated funds. Such activities must be independently
     authorized by appropriate statutory authority. This agreement does not provide
     such authority. Negotiation, execution, and administration of each such
     agreement must comply with all applicable statues and regulations.

     restricts the Forest Service or the County from participating in similar activities
     with other public or private agencies, organizations, and individuals.

  F. RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARTIES. The Forest Service and the County and their
     respective agencies and office will handle their own activities and utilize their
     own resources, including the expenditure of their own funds, in pursuing these
     objectives. Each party will carry out its separate activities in a coordinated and
     mutually beneficial manner.
   G. ESTABLISHMENT OF RESPONSIBILITY. This agreement is not intended to,
      and does not create, any right, benefit, or trust responsibility, substantive or
      procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by a party against the United States, its
      agencies, its officers, or any person.

      effect upon the signature of the Forest Service and the County and shall remain in
      effect for 5 years from the date of execution. This agreement may be extended or
      amended upon written request of either the Forest Service or the County and the
      subsequent written concurrence of the other. Either party may terminate this
      agreement with a 60-day written notice to the other.

   I. AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES. By signature below, the County certifies
      that the individuals listed in this document as representatives of the County are
      authorized to act in their respective areas for matters related to this agreement.

In witness whereof, the parties hereto have executed this agreement as of the last written
date below.

JIM CASHELL                                                                        Date
Gallatin County Sheriff

REBECCA HEATH, Forest Supervisor                                                   Date
USDA Forest Service, Gallatin National Forest

The authority and format of this agreement have
been reviewed and approved for signature.

/s/ Danielle L. Price             10/19/2004

FS Agreements Specialist                Date
                              EXHIBIT A
                    Agreement No. 05-MU-11011100-004



Search and Rescue (SAR) operations on National Forest lands in Gallatin
County fall under the jurisdiction of the County Sheriff (Forest Service
Manual 1599). The Sheriff’s Department personnel are trained for and have
the responsibility for conducting SAR operations. The Forest Service role is
one of support and cooperation with local officials. There are several
advantages to interagency cooperation and coordination. If requested by
the Sheriff’s Department, Forest Service personnel can assist SAR by:

    Providing an up-to-date SAR contact list of Forest Service personnel
     with office and home telephone numbers (Exhibit C);
    Gathering appropriate information, if first on the scene, to turn over
     to the SAR agency (Exhibit B);
    Initiating SAR operations until relieved by a county representative;
    Providing delegation of authority ensuring that an authorized FS
     officer is readily available to approve use of mechanical/motorized
     transport or equipment in Wilderness (Exhibit C);
    Furnishing guide service to the scene of an emergency;
    Providing smoke jumper helicopter rappel rescue teams with EMT and
     equipment, on short notice during the fire season (also available on
     longer notice during the off season);
    Providing knowledge of camp locations for purposes of
    Assisting with arrangements for transportation, air and ground;
    Providing maps and air photos;
    Providing personnel with specialized expertise, and equipment
     (helitack qualified personnel, public information, enforcement, ATVs,
     pack and saddle stock, climbing rope, snowmobiles and snowmobile
     freight sled, avalanche rescue gear, etc.);
    Providing accident investigation (LEO);
    Assisting with radio communications;
    Providing training to SAR personnel including use of maps, GPS,
     compass, avalanche awareness training, as well as special
     considerations for resource protection such as Leave No Trace,
     wilderness, heritage, Threatened and Endangered species and other
     special emphasis areas.

The inclusion of Forest Service personnel with SAR operations can also help
to prevent unnecessary resource damage.


As the Forest Service has a responsibility to manage the public lands of the
National Forest system, it is fundamental that appropriate Forest Service
personnel be contacted and informed of SAR activities within the National
Forest from the onset of operations.

The primary goal of Search and Rescue is to provide an emergency service
for the public while preserving the safety of all people involved. Taking
reasonable measures to consider and limit the effects SAR operations may
have upon forest resources does not preclude this goal. Forest Service
familiarity with local terrain, transportation systems, and low impact
technique, may reduce resource impacts while making SAR operations more


   A. SAR Planning and Coordination:
        1) A Forest Service liaison will be contacted for all SAR
           operations on National Forest lands for purposes of
           information, or to assist in incident planning and operations;
        2) Forest Service resource advisors will be utilized as appropriate;
        3) SAR operations shall not be considered finished until any
           resulting resource damage has been mitigated or rehabilitated;
        4) Pre-incident training will include information about agency
           resource concerns, e.g. wilderness values, Leave-No-Trace and
           Tread Lightly and proper food and garbage storage techniques.
B. Motorized Equipment and Mechanical Transport, non-wilderness:
     1) SAR operations shall be in compliance with travel management
        plans and regulations except as otherwise necessary to provide
        for human safety;
     2) If practical, i.e. the situation does not involve an inescapable
        urgency, the Sheriff’s Department shall endeavor to contract
        the District Ranger or his representative to consult on the need
        for motorized use otherwise prohibited by travel plan
     3) Care should be taken that ATVs and other vehicles used in SAR
        operations do not transport noxious weeds onto public lands, or
        cause unacceptable resource or social impacts;
     4) Helispot requirements should be met with natural terrain
        features, where practical, rather than from site alteration and
        tree felling;

C. Aircraft (reference USDA Forest Service, Region 1/Region 4 Aviation
   Management Plan, Chapter 5): Note: If any conflicting wording exists
   between this agreement and the R1/R4 Aviation Plan, the R1/R4
   Aviation Plan shall take precedence.

      1) Forest Service owned, contracted, or leased aircraft shall not
         be used in SAR operations unless approved by the Forest
         Aviation Officer (FAO) and/or Forest Dispatch. The only
         exception would be if a pilot and aircraft were released from
         contract obligation and the requesting agency assumes
         responsibility. (Note: Refer to specific contract).
      2) The Contracting Officer or Contracting Officer Representative
         may decline any requests for release of an aircraft from
         contract if the flight is not in the interest of the Forest
         Service. The contractor or contractor’s representative may
         also decline any requests for release.
      3) All SAR helicopter operations involving FS personnel shall be
         managed by a qualified Helicopter Manger (Interagency
         Helicopter Operations Guide, Chapter 2). The only exception is
         when the agency is utilizing other government agency or military
         aircraft, and the provider of the aircraft is also providing the
         helicopter and/or helibase management services, such as, flight
         following, loading/unloading of personnel/cargo, external load
         operations, etc. and operation is approved by the Regional
         Aviation Officer. Only minimum essential personnel will be
         allowed aboard SAR aircraft (media, political officials, and
         family members are not considered essential to the mission).
      4) Forest Service flight following of SAR aviation operations will
         take place either through the appropriate Emergency
         Communications Center (ECC) or other agencies. Flight
         following shall be accomplished as per Forest Service
         regulations. If the ECC is not used for flight following then the
         ECC will be notified of the mission, area of mission, frequencies,
         date and time frame of the mission.

         NOTE: The Sheriff’s office will notify Forest Dispatch
         whenever aircraft are utilized in SAR operations, as a
         safety precaution.

D. Costs:
      1) The County Sheriff is responsible for search and rescue of
          overdue or missing persons. Pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 575, the
          Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to incur such expenses
          as may be necessary in searching for persons lost within the
          National Forests or to provide transportation to persons
          seriously ill, injured or who die within the National Forests to
          the nearest place where the sick or injured person(s) may be
          transferred to interested parties or local authorities.
      2) Forest Service employees involved in any SAR operation must
          work in compliance with the Forest Service mission of providing
          for public health and safety and within the scope of their
          duties. Generally, Forest Service employees may work in pay
          status if the incident is on or originated on National Forest
          lands. For off-Forest incidents, employees may take annual
          leave or administrative leave under the discretion and approval
          of the line officer in charge.
      3) If air support is requested by the Sheriff, the cost of air
          operations will be assigned to the County. At the County’s
          discretion, these costs may be billed to the rescued party.
         When the Forest Service provides aircraft independent of a
         request by the County Sheriff, the costs will be borne by the
         Forest Service.


WILDERNESS – Forest Service approval for motorized or mechanized
use in Wilderness, “including measures required in emergencies involving
the health and safety of persons within the area” [Section 4 (c) of the
Wilderness Act] is required.

In the interest of public safety (FSM 1599 R-1 Supplement 51), wheeled
litter (gurney)use for life saving medical missions within Wilderness is
approved in advance when the following conditions are met:
     It is a life-threatening emergency in which speed of response is

Use of any other motorized or mechanized equipment by the county
for rescues including but not limited to helicopters, ATV’s, or any
other motorized equipment must have prior approval by the
appropriate District Ranger or Forest Supervisor (see exhibit C).

Delegation of Authority:
Approval authority for motorized or mechanical transport within
Wilderness rests with the Forest Supervisor (FSM 2326.1) Approval may
be given for emergencies “where the situation involves an inescapable
urgency and temporary need for speed beyond that available by primitive
means.” Categories may include:
        Health/Safety
        Law Enforcement involving serious crime or fugitive pursuit
        Removal of deceased persons
        Aircraft accident investigations

Approval is required for motorized or mechanized use within wilderness,
aircraft landings, and airdrops. Forest Supervisor permission is not
required for over flights (although an FAA 2,000 foot elevation above
ground advisory applies).
Forest Supervisors may re-delegate authority to District Rangers and
others within his/her chain of command. The intent of this re-delegation
is to prevent unnecessary delays in making decisions related to SAR
requests for use of mechanical transport/motorized equipment. Only
individuals who are knowledgeable in Forest Service Wilderness Policy
and SAR guidelines will be so delegated. See Exhibit C for the
delegations for the Bozeman and Hebgen Lake Ranger Districts.

When the local Forest officer makes a decision to use motorized
equipment in Wilderness, a brief narrative should be prepared
documenting the reasons for granting approval. This document should be
sent to the Forest Supervisor as soon as possible.

It is imperative that federal land managers are briefed on the type of
injury and circumstances associated with the injury – e.g. is it life
threatening and why? What site-specific weather, topographic, access,
etc factors may affect the rescue efforts? See exhibit b.

The following guidelines may help managers make the appropriate decision
on use of motorized or mechanized equipment. In all cases, the
preferred method of travel within Wilderness is by horse or foot.

   Always Approve
       Removal of deceased persons;
       Removal of victims with obvious life-threatening injuries;
       Whenever there is doubt as to whether or not the injury is life-

   Usually Approve
       Injury is not life-threatening, but delay may cause further
         injury or serious complications, e.g. a broken leg where
         evacuation by primitive transport could cause pain which could
         then lead to shock.
       Injury is not life-threatening but is serious and present or
         predicted weather could cause delays in travel that would make
         the condition life-threatening;
         Where topography or footing is so hazardous that it will expose
          the injured person or the rescue team to a very high probability
          of additional injury.

   Never Approve
      When the injury is not life threatening and the victim can be
        transported by non-mechanical means to a logical point of
        rescue outside of Wilderness with reasonable care and comfort.

       Generally, searches, as distinguished from rescues, will not
        utilize motorized equipment in Wilderness. Exceptions may be
        made for compelling reasons of public safety; i.e. there is good
        reason to believe that the person being searched for has a life-
        threatening injury.

Managerial Standards:
Evidence of SAR operations should be as unobtrusive as possible. All
efforts should be made to minimize any potential degradation to the
resource and visitor’s experience.

Group Size: Where practical the rescue party should not exceed the
maximum group size of 15 persons and 20 head of stock (limit of 15 head
of stock in the Spanish Peaks Unit). The minimum number of people
required for the mission is desirable.

Camps: Locate camps outside of Wilderness where possible. Camps need
to comply with Forest Service standards for Leave No Trace. All
regulations, such as weed free-feed and food storage requirements, must
be met.

 Bear Country: Searches in grizzly bear habitat (much of the Gallatin
NF) will be conducted to minimize adverse encounters with bears. Pepper
spray should be carried throughout the Forest, south of Interstate 90,
and rescue crews should be familiar with proper use of the spray.
Searches in bear country will be conducted using proper food and
garbage storage methods and techniques. Bears will not have access to
food or garbage.
                               EXHIBIT B
                    Search & Rescue Information Report

1. National Forest – Gallatin           Date -                    Time -

2. Employee’s Name -                                Phone No. -

3. Name and address of person reporting the accident or incident (detain
   person until contacted by SAR agency):

4. Can person who reported the accident/incident be reached by phone?
   Tel # -

5. Can he/she accompany the rescue party back to the site? If not, who

6. Number of persons injured or lost:

7. Types of injuries

8. Location of accident/incident – (If lost person, last seen point) (UTM, GPS
    coordinates, Township/Range/Sec., landmarks).

9. Time of accident/incident -                      Date -

10. Names and ages of persons injured or lost (physical description) –
11. Names and addresses/phone #s of other people involved (cell/Sat. phone
    #s of people on site?)

12. Have injured or lost persons food and warm clothing? Shelter?

13. Experience of party -

14. Equipment of party for their rescue or use -

15. Kind of terrain -


16. Weather at site –

    Predicted weather -

17. Best route or approach to the site -

18. Time involved (How long did it take for reporter to come out?)-

19. Is aerial support practical?       Search                   Evacuation
    Heli-spots available?

20. Other agencies that are involved or should be contacted –

20. Need for agency approval of motorized use (Wilderness)?

21. What has been done or what is being done-

22. Are maps and photographs of the area available?
      Quad map name(s)

23. Sheriff Notified – Date-                Time-

24. Management Agency Notified- Date                     Time-

25. Other considerations -
                            EXHIBIT C
 Gallatin NF Search & Rescue Contact List (Bozeman and Hebgan Lake
                          Ranger Districts)

*denotes those with delegated authority to approve motorized use with-
                            in Wilderness

Bozeman Ranger District:                            522-2520
FAX – 522-2528
*Jose Castro – District Ranger -              388-0966 hm. cel–
*Nancy Halstrom – Resource Assistant          586-7549 hm. cel –
*Dave Cary – Recreation Manager               585-9744 hm.

Hebgen Lake Ranger District:                              823-
6961 Fax – 823-6990
*Bill Queen – District Ranger           823-6963 hm 646-7835, cel
*Claude Coffin – Resource Assistant     823-6971 hm – 646-9293,
cel 580-1656
*Milton Fusselman – Recreation Mgr.     823-6968 hm – 646-7659,
cell 209-0078

Gallatin Forest Supervisors Office:
    587-6701 Fax – 587-6758
Becki Heath – Forest Supervisor                587-6949 wk 582-
8338 hm 581-0711 cel
* John P Allen – Deputy Forest Supervisor 587-6785 wk 585-0217 hm
539-3399 cel
*Gene Gibson – Forest Staff              587-6753 wk 586-1006 hm
539-1981 cel
*Kimberly Schlenker – Wilderness Program 587-6743 wk 587-9000 hm
580-9543 cel
*Frank Preite – Administrative Assistant      587-6767 wk 459-9146
*Lisa Stoeffler – Forest Staff                587-6705 wk 582-
0582 hm 579-3195 cel

Bozeman Dispatch                      587-6718 or 587-6719

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