Brad Lamson is one of four race directors of the Swan Crest 100. The race derives from the Swan Crest runs which have been held on and off for the past 15 years in distances ranging from 20 miles to a 57K.
In 2009 Lamson and friends kicked around the idea of a 100 mile endurance run on these same trails in the Swan Range in the Flathead National Forest. As the idea grew, they thought, why not use the event to raise money for the Glacier County Avalanche Center or other local non-profits. They eventually planned for a race date at the end of July 2010.
In early April 2010, Lamson initiated contact with Keith Hammer, Chairman of local conservation group, the Swan View Coalition.
Lamson believed both groups had the same interests in the Swan Range and wanted to align with the Swan View Coalition. And if Hammer and his group would sponsor an aid station at the Swan Crest 100, that much the better.
Lamson never heard back from the Swan View Coalition, that is, until he was carbon copied on an email Hammer sent to the Swan View Coalition’s distribution list of 400 some people. The email was not an outreach for help with an aid station, it was a plea for help in stopping the Swan Crest 100.
Lamson was surprised, but not dissuaded. When he and Hammer finally met, Lamson explained that the race organizers were conservationists themselves, that trail runners are extraordinarily conscientious of “leaving no trace behind,” and that by bringing runners to the Swan Range, those same runners could be powerful advocates of the Swan View Coalition.
Hammer would not be swayed.
Soon after that meeting the Swan View Coalition began its campaign to the Forest Service. It argued that 50 runners going through core security grizzly habitat was an “extraordinary circumstance” that required an environmental assessment prior to any issuance of a Forest Service permit, and that these runners were violating the Forest Service’s recommendations for safe activity in bear habitat.
In May 2010, the Swan Crest 100 applied for a commercial Forest Service permit. Lamson says they needed the permit to charge an entry fee, and the only reason they were charging an entry fee (rather than just accept donations to cover costs) was to reassure entrants of the race’s “legitimacy.”
When the Swan View Coalition filed their 60-day notice of lawsuit in May, Lamson was just blown away wondering what he had gotten himself into. This is a full time job for Hammer; Lamson couldn’t fight this.
Thus, race organizers would go back to Plan A, accepting only donations, keep all the participants (volunteers included) under 75 people, and thereby avoid the necessity of obtaining a commercial permit or an environmental assessment.
Go to Page 2.
Click here to read more about the Swan View Coalition’s side of the story.