Red River Gorge, KY Update
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
With the 2007 mortgage payment for the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) out of the way, the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition has been preparing for two major events coming up this fall, the Mountain Gear UCLIMB being held the weekend of September 15 & 16 and the Petzl Roc Trip at Rocktoberfest being held the weekend of October 12-14.
In other news, the Military Wall Cliffline Protection and Restoration Project was removed from consideration for its 2008 budget due to the transfer of the staff person preparing the environmental assessment. Due to transfers and retirements the Daniel Boone National Forest, many Districts are severely understaffed, especially the Redbird District, this position may not be filled immediately, however the USFS has indicated that may pick the project back up once it has adequate staffing.
Dogs: A Continued Access Problem in Red River Gorge, KY
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director, Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
Muir Valley Nature Preserve is a 400-acre piece of private land with 7+ miles of cliff line near Red River Gorge, Kentucky that the owners, Rick and Liz Weber, have graciously opened for climbing development. Upon opening the area to climbing they institute the following rule with regards to dogs:
Dogs must be kept on leashes at all times everywhere in Muir Valley. They must be restrained at the base of climbs such that they cannot interfere with and/or distract belayers or damage plants in the area
Due to continuing problems with dogs at Muir Valley, Rick Weber posted the following announcement on the www.redriverclimbing.com website:
Effective January 1, 2008, dogs will no longer be permitted in Muir Valley. This date can and will be moved up if flagrant infractions and incidents continue. Until then, dog owners who disregard the leash rule will lose visitor privileges.
Climbers not following the dog rule at Torrent Falls were one of the primary reasons that public access to climbing there was closed. Again, we are reminded of why it is important know and follow all rules when climbing in the Red River Gorge area regardless of whether on public or private land. If these rules are ignored, more restrictions or even closure may follow.
Re-Cap of Grand-Opening Event
ACSDs official grand opening to the public was a huge success! Over 140 people showed up, joined as members, and helped us celebrate San Diegos first climbing non-profit organization dedicated to keeping San Diego climbing open for future generations. Support and donations from vendors and individuals, allowed us to generate over $5,000! These much needed funds will go toward purchasing tools for service projects, paying for costs associated with working with public land managers on access issues, maintaining our website, and of course organizing more projects, events and fun things for our members to participate in. Whether you contributed the minimum amount or a whole lot more, you are playing an important part in San Diegos climbing future. Thanks again to all our supporting vendors and for joining the ACSD. If you did join as a member, please plan on attending our first public meeting at REI San Diego (5556 Copley Dr. 92111) on Tuesday, July 24th. If you didnt make it to the Opening, and want to join as a member and find out more, either fill out your form on our website, or come by the public meeting. See you then! www.alliedclimbers.org
Support Hunterdon County Bouldering
John Anderson, Access NJ
In response to Hunterdon County's anti-access stance, Access NJ is holding a one-day (unsanctioned) Vulgarian Music Fest here NJ.
Venue will take place in lieu of Access NJ's traditional Adopt A Crag events. Some music groups have made commitments to play. Others are welcome. Contact Access NJ. Free Music, Food and Drink. Pig roast, bouldering contest, strategy sessions, etc.....
Support access on NJ's public open space lands. Gig out!
BLMs Proposed Wilderness Plan Focuses on Red Rocks Bolting Proposal, NV
The Bureau of Land Management in Las Vegas has just finished accepting scoping comments to their Preliminary Proposed Wilderness Management Plan for Red Rocks which includes the La Madre Mountain and Rainbow Mountain Wilderness areas. See www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/las_vegas_field_office/...
The BLM will now take these public comments and formulate management alternatives for Red Rocks including new policies to permit new fixed anchor. Look for a draft plan in late 2007 or early 2008. For more background on this issue, see the Access Funds comments www.accessfund.org/pdf/RedRocksScop.pdf and stay tuned to the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council www.lvclc.org for news of the local Vegas position on new Red Rocks climbing policies.
Help Save Lost Horse Crag from County Quarry Proposal, MT
The Lost Horse Crag in Montanas Bitterroot National Forest could face demolition if the US Forest Service agrees to a countys proposed quarry. Last mined in the 60s or 70s, the Lost Horse Quarry has since turned into one of Montanas premier multi-pitch climbing areas. See www.ravallirepublic.com/articles/2007/06/07/.... The proposed plan would expand the old quarry at Lost Horse, install gates, restrict access, and impose season closures from October through April annually for 10 years.
Send your comments on the proposal by July 9, 2007
to Chuck Oliver, District Ranger at Darby Ranger District P.O. Box 388, Darby, MT 59829. For more information, contact the Bitterroot Climbers' Coalitions Steve Porcella at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Elizabeth Ballard, Stevensville Ranger District, Bitterroot National Forest, at (406) 777-7421.
Ragged Mountain Foundation Annual Meeting June 21, CT
The RMF Annual meeting will be held Thursday June 21st 7:00 at The Connecticut Forest and Parks Association (CFPA) facility 16 Meriden Rd., Rockfall, CT 06481-2961 (AKA - Rt 66 Middlefield).
The meeting agenda includes: election results, special awards, presidents report, property report, 2007 Wilcox award, and a slideshow presentation by the 2006 Wilcox Award winner. (Al Carilli). Pizza and refreshments will be served.
Texas' Hueco Tanks and Enchanted Rock Receive Increased Funding
By Jamie McNally, Central TX Mountaineers
Thanks to a concerted effort by a wide variety of organizations including the Access Fund, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (which manages Hueco Tanks State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area) will now enjoy $180 million in new funding. These increased state-level appropriations will benefit climbers by improving the management of resource protection and recreational access at these parks which had been critically under funded for years.
Also significant for climbers, the recently enacted legislation provides for the transfer of 18 historic sites from Parks Department jurisdiction over to the Texas Historical Commission who could ultimately impose more restrictive policies on recreation such as climbing. Although Hueco Tanks was not included in the list of historic sites transferred, the legislation provides for an interim legislative committee to study issues surrounding historic site transfers and the study's conclusions could have implications for possible future transfers.
On June 14 a number of Texas conservation organizations, including the Trust for Public Land, The Texas Coalition for Conservation, the Nature Conservancy of Texas and others met in Austin to celebrate recent legislative accomplishments and to award the First Annual Land and People Award to George Bristol, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition for Conservation for his leadership efforts in helping to obtain additional funding for state parks.
Volunteer Raptor Closures a Success at Black Cliffs, ID
By Brian Fedigan - Boise Climbers Alliance, Access Fund RC
Thanks to all Boise Climbers for helping with the raptor closures at the Black Cliffs. The voluntarily closures will be lifted and all areas will be open to climbing at the end of June. This year two pairs of Prairie Falcons, a Barn Owl, one pair of American Kestrels and a Red Tail Hawk successfully nested in sections of the Black Cliffs. Thanks for participating.
Williamson Rock Update, CA
By Troy Mayr, Friends of Williamson Rock
The Williamson Rock area is a well-known recreation site used predominately for rock climbing. It has been used by climbers since the 1960s and is widely regarded as a unique rock climbing resource for the entire Southern California region. The Williamson Rock area has been closed since December 2005 to protect the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog (MYLF), which is an endangered species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Populations of the frog are known to exist within the closure area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated approximately 615 acres along Little Rock Creek within the closure area as critical habitat for the MYLF in October 2006.
Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) is waiting for an official response from the USFS regarding recommendations for access issues at Williamson Rock.
Unofficially, the USFS does not yet know whether an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) (see definitions below) is needed for Williamson Rock.
It has been suggested by the USFS Inter Disciplinary Team (IDT) that an EIS will be required. The IDT was organized specifically to work on the Williamson Rock issue. If an EIS is required, the process normally takes at year or so to complete, depending on whether formal consultation with the USFWS is required.
(On a related note, the USFS is working with USFWS on the protection of the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog in the proximity of Williamson Rock and has set up a detour for a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail that lies within frog habitat. Recently FoWR learned that the USFWS is requesting formal consultation on that issue. The USFWS is the agency behind the closure, but the USFS is managing the issue because Williamson Rock is located on National Forest land.)
The USFS has indicated that they do not anticipate having funds available through their federally appropriated dollars for either an EA or EIS on the Williamson Rock project in 2008. The USFS will need to consider / secure grants or other forms of funding to continue work on the Williamson Rock issue. FoWR may need to help with funding to expedite the process or to at least keep it moving forward. The cost of an EIS is estimated at $60k$100k. Finally, if an EIS is required, it will be managed from the USFS headquarters, not the district station with whom we've been working.
Unfortunately (obviously), FoWR believes that the USFS will reissue the closure in December for 2008.
Once FoWR receives an official response we will review the details, make appropriate decisions on what is the best course of action, and proceed from there. We will post new information as it becomes available on our website and through Access Fund channels.
As we've indicated many times, the process is cumbersome and slow, so please continue to be patient.
To join FoWR or for more information, please visit www.williamsonrock.org or email email@example.com
Environmental Assessment (EA): Generally, an EA includes brief discussions of the following: the need for the proposal, alternatives (when there is an unresolved conflict concerning alternative uses of available resources), the environmental impacts of the proposed action and alternatives, and a list of agencies and persons consulted.
Environmental Impact Assessment [Study] (EIS): A National Environmental Protection Act document, an EIS should include discussions of the purpose of and need for the action, alternatives, the affected environment, the environmental consequences of the proposed action, lists of preparers, agencies, organizations and persons to whom the statement is sent, an index, and an appendix (if any).
Zion National Park Asks for Public Comment on Backcountry Management Policies, UT
In 2005 the National Park Service at Zion completed public scoping on a plan to manage of backcountry in Zion that includes vast climbing opportunities, including some of the countrys most significant adventure big wall climbing. In May the park released its draft alternatives for managing 145,060 acres in Zion, which include recommended and potential wilderness and any technical rock climbing areas regardless of where they occur in the park.
The draft BMP identifies opportunities for a variety of backcountry experiences while recognizing and protecting the wilderness resources values of Zion National Park. For more information, see AFs 2005 scoping comments www.accessfund.org/pdf/AFscopZion.pdf and the draft plan http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?.... The Access Fund generally supports the parks Proposed Action/Preferred Alternative B which continues existing policies (including seasonal closures to protect raptors and other protected resources) and will also encourage . . . access to climbs on established and marked routes. The NPS plan would not seek to monitor or otherwise limit the number of new climbs, but because of the wilderness management at Zion, the NPS will prohibit power drills and discourage excess bolting. Various other provisions in the draft BMP address overnight bivouacs, human waste, fixed ropes, access trails, and canyoneering in the backcountry.
The NPS at Zion will take comments to its proposed Backcountry Management Plan through July 29 at:
Zion National Park
Attn: Backcountry Management Plan/EA
Springdale, UT 84767< br>
Or online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov.
Access Fund Joins Broad Coalition Opposing Numerical Limits on Access in Yosemite National Park
Climbing Advocates Sign Amicus Brief in U.S. Court of Appeals Supporting Efforts to Protect the Merced River and Visitor Access in Yosemite
The Access Fund announced on May 10th that it has joined a group of seven leading conservation and recreational organizations to take legal action supporting a specific point in the Yosemite National Parks Merced River Management Planadaptive carrying capacity management provisions.
The Merced River Plan, on hold since a District Court ruling in 2006 and currently in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, addresses use capacity in Yosemite Valley as a means to preserve and protect the Merced Wild & Scenic River. At issue is a District Court ruling that imposes numeric limits on visitors without the benefit of resource-based indicators.
The Access Fund maintains that this approach is impractical and unfair and that adaptive carrying capacity management provisions are a better management approach to protect the environment and visitor access.
For climbers, the Merced River litigation could be precedent setting concerning the establishment of user and carrying capacity restrictions for Wild and Scenic River areas across the country. The 9th Circuit Court ruling could result in restricted climbing access in all Wild and Scenic River management areas including Yosemite Valley, Yosemites Tuolumne region, the New River Gorge in West Virginia, the Obed River in Tennessee and other designated and proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers in California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Kentucky, and elsewhere.
The Access Fund did not take its involvement in the appeal lightly. In the past the Access Fund has been at odds with Yosemite National Park on a variety of management plans but supports the Merced River Plan because the District Courts ruling requires a non-adaptive process placing specific but unproven numerical limits on use regardless of need. A better approach is the Merced River Plans scientifically sound adaptive carrying capacity management provisions that are based on decades of progress by national experts and professional land managers that would adjust visitor access when needed to prevent environmental harm and correct unacceptable impacts before they become irreversible.
The Access Fund signed onto a Friends of the Court brief in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, joining several other organizations including The Yosemite Fund, Friends of the River, the American Alpine Club, National Parks Conservation Association, California Trout and The Wilderness Society.
The Access Fund intends this issue to be resolved through constructive engagement and cooperation. The case will be heard in San Francisco this fall and the Access Funds involvement will allow the climbing community to be heard during the appeal process.
For more information, please contact Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at 303.545.6772 ext.102 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allied Climbers of San Diego Update, CA
By Todd Smith, ACSD Access Fund Liaison
The Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) is excited to announce that San Diegos newest Access Fund Affiliate is off to a great start. On June 29th the ACSD is hosting its inaugural community-building gathering! A location has not yet been selected, so please visit us at www.AlliedClimbers.org to drop us an e-mail asking to be put on our contact list. As soon as party details are available well send you a personal invitation to join us!
ACSDs mission statement is as follows: "The Allied Climbers of San Diego is a local, environmentally responsible, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining access to climbing and outdoor recreation."
ACSD is a diverse group of San Diego climbers unified by a common desire to protect and conserve access to climbing areas both now and for future generations.
ACSD Core Goals:
Promote & maintain access to San Diego climbing areas
Provide volunteer opportunities for the climbing community
Educate the public on climbing related and environmental issues
Work with public and private land managers to create win-win solutions
Encourage responsible climbing in San Diego
Document and research San Diegos climbing and recreational resources
CLOSEDParadise on the Brazos, TX
The property owner of Paradise on the Brazos in Graham, Texas officially closed the area to climbing. He is still operating his normal business, but shut down climbing as of May 13. As always, the climbing community is asked to respect the wishes of the property owner.
Elys Peak Update, MN
By Kaija Webster, Access Fund RC
Climbers visiting the Ely's Peak climbing area near Duluth, Minnesota should be aware of recent access issues at the crag. The owner of the private land on the north side of the Munger Trail has been having cars towed if they are parked near his driveway access on the south of the Munger Trail. The same landowner is very unhappy about climbers and hikers taking the traditional trail to Ely's which runs through his private property. Anyone hiking to the base of Ely's Peak should park on the public land side of the parking area and use the new climber's access trail.
For details and a map of where to park and where to hike, go to the Trip Reports section of the forum, Ely's Peak thread, at www.minnesotaclimbing.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=8.
In response to the land owners concerns, the City of Duluth, the DNR and the Access Fund have worked together with climbers to block off trails that lead to private land and to more clearly sign the area. Regional climbers came together on very short notice to help make the service day happen early in the season.
Nice work! Photos of the service day can be found at www.umdrsop.org/climbing/photos/elys_service_day/index.htm
And just to be clear, the climbs at Ely's Peak and the new access trail are entirely on public land and the City of Duluth has been very supportive of climbers continuing to use the area for climbing.
In Other News:
The Access Fund hosted its fourth annual Regional Climbers Forum on April 28 at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Expo in Minneapolis, MN. There was a great turn out of climbers from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
For a summary of what was discussed at the forum, go to www.minnesotaclimbing.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=8 under the General Climbing thread.
Oregon Bill Requiring Emergency Locator Beacons on Mt. Hood May Not Become Law
An Oregon bill that would require Mt. Hood climbers to carry emergency locator beacons recently stalled in the Oregon Senate leading some to believe that the measure will fail this legislative session.
Earlier this year the Access Fund joined the Mountain Rescue Association and Portland Mountain Rescue in opposing a mandatory use of these simple one way devices. See the Access Fund testimony on the bill www.accessfund.org/pdf/HR_2509_Testimony.pdf. Find more background at www.accessfund.org/pubs/en/e-news77.htm#_Oregon_Beacon_Bill.
Steve Rollins, who conducts SAR activities on Mt. Hood, says the legislature can't mandate good judgment. I'm a strong believer that the laws of nature are going to be far more powerful than any law our legislators come up with. And if we can educate people to respect the laws of nature more, that will go a lot further than any law that we come up with.
The bill, while a well-intentioned attempt at addressing recent high profile rescue and recovery efforts on Oregons Mt. Hood, is a knee-jerk reaction and will not prevent climbers from being injured or killed in climbing related accidents. The bill simply adds a layer of red-tape to climbing a mountain and at worst could actually give less experienced climbers a sense of false security when presented with conditions out of their control.
Despite climbing groups and professional rescuers coming out against the bill, in late March the Oregon House of Representatives voted 33-22 to require the locator devices for all Mt. Hood climbers traveling above 10,000 feet. However, the bill was referred to the Senate General Government Committee where it is expected to not emerge with a vote in part because the legislation had no existing enforcement capability and no money to fund its regulation. Critics of the bill also note that the measure is reactive, not proactive. The Hood River News reports that virtually every mountaineering organization in Oregon opposed SB 2509 and pointed out that state statistics showed only 3.4 percent of rescues statewide involved climbers. Many in the Oregon legislature are now focused on efforts to fund search and rescue efforts conducted by county sheriff departments. For more information contact email@example.com
Update - Farley Ledge, MA
By Rob Sullivan, Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition
The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), an Access Fund Affiliate closed on a nine-acre parcel of land abutting Farley Ledge. Ownership of this parcel provides permanent public access while saving a precious natural resource from certain development.
Farley Ledge represents a unique and unspoiled natural outdoor recreation area in Erving, Massachusetts. Farley is a primary rock-climbing destination in New England, and includes one of the most impressive sections of the nationally recognized Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. Farley is home to five-star trad climbing, sport climbing, ice climbing, bouldering and top roping. Only 1.5 hours from downtown Boston, the crag features superb rock qualitycomparable to English grit in its best momentsand offers the only true multi-pitch experience in MA.
Farleyoften billed as the best crag between the Gunks and Rumneyis virtually unknown. Its mythical status can be attributed largely to its unstable access. While the crag itself is owned by a utility that must encourage recreation, current parking is located at a small, privately owned eight-car lot, and trail access lies across a patchwork of additional private land parcels. Access is constantly threatened by the disparate voices of land abutters. The WMCC have worked closely to soothe these neighbors. Even so, the trailhead has been moved several times and the crag itself has been closed four times in the last twenty years.
This purchase ends all that uncertainty. Construction of a new trailhead and parking lotthe easiest part of this whole processshould be finished in time for the fall season. Perhaps most encouraging of all is the fact that this success story represents the efforts of a large, organized and motivated community on the local, regional and national level. Locals sniffed out, carried and closed the deal; the Appalachian Mountain Club offered substantial funds at a critical juncture; the Access Fund provided a significant grant as well as invaluable guidance and support (the land purchase is a direct result of AFs Acquisition Summit held last year).
So we all deserve a pat on the back and tour come fall.
Update on Red River Gorge, KY
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) The Red River Reunion and a grant from Patagonia secured the funds for RRGCC owned Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) 2007 mortgage payment. The Patagonia grant was received with the assistance of the Benchmark Outdoor Outfitters of Cincinnati, Ohio. Our sincere thanks go to all of the climbers and businesses who contributed to the 2007 fundraising effort.
On May 7 the RRGCC, Charmane Oil and Lee County agreed to work together to provide maintenance needs for Bald Rock Fork Road aka the road to the Motherlode, Sore Heel Hollow, Bob Marley, and Drive-By areas of the PMRP. The RRGCC Board approved a motion to provide Charmane up to $2,000 to defray material costs for maintaining the roads on the PMRP that are used by climbers.
In order to maintain positive relations between the three parties, climbers are asked to drive slowly, yield to other vehicles, and not obstruct oil facilities or vehicles. For climbers visiting the PMRP during the week if oil vehicles are blocking the road, climbers should consider going to another crag. It is also asked that climbers think about carpooling to the PMRP/Motherlode areas, use a 4WD vehicle or other vehicle that is capable of negotiating these roads, and show common courtesy to oil workers and others driving in the area.
Finally, the RRGCC is monitoring ownership issues regarding the renowned Motherlode sport climbing crag. The local owners of the land have told RRGCC representatives that they have separately sold the mineral rights for the property and that they intend to make surface rights available on eBay Reserve.
Torrent Falls is being purchased by climber and Red River Gorge hero Dr. Bob Matheny. Dr. Matheny will use the main bed and breakfast building at Torrent as his personal vacation home. The cabins on the property will still be available for rental through a management company. The current Torrent owners, Mark and Kathy Meyer will continue to operate their barbecue and climbing adventure business on the property next door. As the Meyers have been living in the main building at Torrent, climbing will continue to be limited to paid guests until they find a new home. After the purchase is finalized in a closing, conditions for a partial reopening of climbing will be announced.
Update-Madrone Wall, OR
By Keith K. Daellenbach, www.savemadrone.org
For the past several months, Access Fund Regional Coordinator Kellie Rice has actively participated in monthly Clackamas County Parks Advisory Board meetings advocating immediate funding for the parks master planning followed by funding for capital improvements (e.g., on-site parking) in subsequent years. While provisional funding allocations for capital improvements are not allocated until 2009, there is reason to be optimistic.
On 22 April, the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee conducted a well attended (36 people) tour of the Madrone Wall site in Clackamas County. Most of those attending had not been to the site which has been posted "No Trespassing" for nearly ten years. One of the participants was new County Commissioner Lynn Peterson who provided encouragement that the park creation process is moving forward. County financial planning has apparently allocated funding to the parks master planning process in the county's next fiscal year to commence 1 July. Beyond that, more planning will be required to, for example, prepare for capital expenditures in the coming years. One of the largest capital expenditures will be to establish on-site parking. The Madrone Wall Preservation Committee continues to work with government and private philanthropic organizations to raise funding to offset county expenses.
2007 And Beyond, Skaha, BC
By Climbers' Access Society of BC
Access to Skaha is in place for 2007, and The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) and Skaha rockclimbers have been working hard on public access to Skaha for 2008 and beyond, with support from Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Access Society, and others.
TLC has agreed to buy 300 hectares of nearby private land (sublot 18 - southeast of Braesyde). When/if the land is bought, and needed work done, it will provide permanent public access to Skaha. Thanks to TLCs partners, a generous donation by the current owner, and other donations, much of the needed money has been raised. We need to raise $1 million by June 30th, and the climbing community must do everything it can to help. (The owner of sublot 18 extended the deadline from April 30th.)
How You Can Help
Make a donation to TLC, soon, and encourage all your friends to also do so. If you're a member of MEC, make your donation at www.conservancy.bc.ca/MEC-skaha and double your donation. Otherwise, see the links below.
If you can help with fundraising, or have ideas or connections that may help, contact TLC or the Access Society at www.access-society.ca/