Oregon Guides and Guide Services
The US Forest Service and the OMA
This cover page is the starting point for all information on the matter of the United States Forest Service and the OMA. Ultimately this is a personal attack rather than an attack on the OMA, but our organization has been used as a key part of this.
The OMA has not offered any recent classes or climbs, and if any are offered in the future they will not be on lands owned and controlled by the Forest Service. We would like to think that this removes us from what is most certainly a personal battle, although it seems that they have been unable in the past to find any other channels through which to justify their actions.
Summary - For the past 7 years the Oregon Mountaineering Association has been used by the US Forest Service as a means of mounting a vengeful attack on an individual. This page offers essentially complete disclosure of what has happened to date and has links to more details as well as interesting correspondence, including a FOIA request and its denial. Another letter requesting a reply from an official at the national level is pending a response (or lack thereof).
If you think that the federal government won't or can't fully investigate you, including a review of any bank records even remotely affiliated with you, without good reason then you need to read this. The US Forest Service has spent well into the six digit range investigating us only to find very little they could even attempt to use against their target. However, we have no doubt they are continuing this vengeance-based pursuit at any cost. Requests for records concerning the reasons and justifications for these actions have been denied - the Forest Service does not want the public to know why these actions were taken. If this can happen through the OMA it can happen to anyone else as well - all it takes is one angry bureaucrat to set such actions in motion.
On this page you will find the true bottom-line as opposed to the false and slanderous statements being made by the Forest Service and its employees. The Timeline lays out what has happened over the past seven years. These events, put together in sequence, pretty much speak for themselves concerning the nature of this matter. The documents page has details about the first and second attempts at legal attacks, letters such as FOIA requests and their denial, and any other details which might be made available.
There has been a significant effort on the part of certain individuals to spread misinformation and false accusations. Here is the truth:
1) No action has been taken against the OMA as an organization. It is the State of Oregon which has jurisdiction over non-profit organizations, not the federal government. We do not have federal 501c3 status and have no interest in applying for it. We do not solicit donations - we are member supported. Years ago the Forest Service apparently reported us to the Oregon Department of Justice, which we have heard nothing from. Unlike the Federal Government the state does not deficit spend without limit and therefore prioritizes. Nothing about the OMA makes us a priority, and probably not even an interest.
2) This is not an old issue, it is ongoing. In the spring of 2003 a 100+ page investigation report was delivered by a federal special agent. After failing to successfully prosecute two petty offence violations in 1999, and following a letter to the national office concerning that matter, the Forest Service responded by mounting this costly and extensive investigation in retaliation. While the investigation was over two years old upon its delivery in June 2003 they attempted to revive action on it. The US Attorneys office seems to have dropped it, presumably as a result of having more pressing matters to deal with. As far as we know it remains in limbo, but it was never clearly settled in any way. Despite the failure of the Forest Service to find any credible evidence of crime on the part of either the OMA or any individual there is little doubt that they will continuing to invest in this. (All the while complaining about their lack of special agents!) A FOIA response from Region 6 law enforcement states that the case is open and that they are not required to tell anyone when it is closed. The US Government can hold a federal investigation over you for life - leaving you wondering when an agent will next come knocking.
3) Glenn Kessler, a former USFS ranger who plays a key role in all of this (and who is now a federal employee at Mt Rainier National Park), and his friends, colleagues and employees have repeatedly stated or implied to people, including the media, that the OMA and one or more of its leaders have been guilty of illegal guiding. This is not true, there has not been a single successful conviction of anyone. Furthermore the only events they have been able to attempt to label as guiding have been official OMA events (which were offered at costs far below going commercial rates, with fees paid to the organization by members). The only OMA events ever brought up were those in which a particular leader was active - all others have been ignored. Even after an investigation costing well into the six digit range nobody has been successfully prosecuted for anything.