Vermonts Bolton Crag Protected, VT
By Travis Peckham, President, CRAG-VT
Through the combined efforts of the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), and Climbing Resource Access Group Vermont (CRAG-VT), climbing at the 82 Crag in Bolton, Vermont has been permanently protected. Very recently, the VLT helped the ANR acquire an easement ensuring conservation and public recreation rights on the land where the cliff is located. CRAG-VT was able to work with the VLT and the ANR to make sure climbing access was included in these protections.
The conservation of this land is part of the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Projecta cooperative effort by many local groups and statewide organizations and agencies to conserve the ecological integrity, rural character, and working landscape of the northeastern uplands of Chittenden County.
The Vermont Land Trust is working hard to protect large parcels of forestlandthey are essential to our land-based economy and provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, said Bob Heiser, project manager for the Vermont Land Trust.
The 82 Crag is one of the best climbing areas in Vermont, hosting many classic climbs from 5.8 to 5.13. This project is a great example of how conservation groups like the ANR, the VLT, and CRAG-VT can work in partnership to protect Vermonts climbing and conserve undeveloped lands. CRAG-VT would like to extend its gratitude to ANR and the VLT for understanding the importance of local climbing resources and for the hard work it took to make this project a success.
Castleton Tower Adopt-a-Crag Event, UT
October 24th, 25th, & 26th Trail Repair and Trailhead/Campground Stewardship
Castleton Tower needs YOUR help. On August 7, the Castleton Tower crags received two inches of rain in forty-five minutes. The flash flood severely damaged the access trail. An Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag event planned for this fall will repair the trail. We need your help! Please join us.
Utah Open Lands, with support from the Access Fund and American Alpine Club, will host the first annual trail maintenance and baselands stewardship event at Castleton Tower October 24-26. The event is an official Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag event. It is made possible by Petzls sponsorship of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Moab, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary this March.
The goal of the event is for a group of volunteers, under the leadership of trail building professionals, to repair the access trail and begin to take on the stewardship of the crags at Castleton Tower on both BLM and Utah Open Lands property.
Trail Repair & Maintenance Seminar
Friday, October 24
The Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI), builders of the Castleton Tower access trail and many of the trails at Indian Creek, will conduct a seminar on trail construction and maintenance. Then RMFI will lead us in the trail repair work.
Castleton Tower Access Trail Repair
Saturday, October 25
RMFI will oversee trail repair work on the Castleton Tower access trail.
Castleton Tower Access Trail Repair / Trailhead and Primitive Campground Re-Vegetation
Sunday, October 26
RMFI will oversee trail repair work on the Castleton Tower access trail. Additionally, on this day Plateau Restoration of Moab will lead another group of volunteers in the re-vegetation of a large section of the primitive campground which was damaged by OHV travel before Utah Open Lands acquired the land in 2003.
Participants will meet each day at 8:30 am. at the Castleton Tower trailhead and primitive campground on the LaSal Mountain Loop Road in Castle Valley. We will work until approximately 4:00 pm each day. Participants should bring their own food, snacks, beverages, and water. Water will be available for refilling bottles at the trailhead. You may participate for as little as a half-day. The decision is yours, but we need your help. The event will happen rain or shine so bring some foul weather gear.
Finally, Utah Open Lands would like to thank the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Black Diamond, and Petzl for their support of this event and the stewardship effort at Castleton Tower!
Please contact Dave Erley of Utah Open Lands at 435-259-4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up for any or all of the days.
Climbers Reminded to Practice Leave No Trace Ethics
The following is a press release from Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. The park has had problems with a number of boulderers stashing pads in the park. Pad stashing in National Parks is illegal and could potentially affect climbing access.
The Access Fund operates with the understanding that climbers, by their very nature, care about the natural environments in which they climb. The Access Fund urges all climbers to practice Leave No Trace principles and carry everything out that they carry in - including their pads.
Rocky Mountain National Park News Release September 2, 2008
Climbers Reminded to Practice Leave No Trace Ethics
Rocky Mountain National Park has always been known for an abundance of spectacular alpine rock climbing and mountaineering. Recently, bouldering has also become popular in the park and boulders in Chaos Canyon and near Emerald Lake have become frequent destinations for climbers.
As more and more climbers come to the park to boulder, impacts to the park's natural resources increase. For example, crash pads are frequently left behind so they dont have to be carried back and forth from the trailhead to the bouldering areas. Sometimes these pads are chewed by marmots and rodents, resulting in small pieces of foam littering the area and offering up an unhealthy diet for wild animals. Fortunately, most climbers who recreate in Rocky Mountain National Park minimize their impacts by practicing Leave No Trace Ethics. However, an increasing number are leaving crash pads stashed under and around the boulders, resulting in problems such as the one noted above. During a patrol last summer, rangers found more than 25 pads hidden in the Chaos Canyon area alone. Last week, rangers collected nine pads in one day. Rocky Mountain National Parks backcountry is managed as wilderness. Leaving these pads is illegal.
Issues of concern arent limited to bouldering areas. Several years ago rangers removed nearly four hundred pounds of trash, old slings, abandoned rope, abandoned food caches, and other items left behind by climbers on the east face of Longs Peak.
Rangers hope that users will take more responsibility toward maintaining a natural, wilderness setting by carrying their crash pads to and from bouldering areas and by removing other inappropriate items at the conclusion of each trip. If not, items will be confiscated and owners could risk costly fines. According to Chief Ranger Mark Magnuson, responsible stewardship of public lands is necessary for all user groups, helping to ensure the freest possible access and appropriate recreational use consistent with long-term preservation of park resources. Adhering to the principles of Leave No Trace is one way to help accomplish this.
Access Fund TeamWorks Trail Project Builds on Climbing Access Success at Newhalem, WA
On September 13 rock climbers and three conservation groups joined the National Park Service to build and restore access paths to climbing crags outside of Newhalem, Washington at Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
Since 2003 The Access Fund has worked with the North Cascades National Park, joined by members of the Washington Climbers Coalition (www.washingtonclimbers.org), to negotiate access to spectacular unclimbed cliffs outside Newhalem. Late last year all the worked came to fruition when climbers and the park service came up with a compromise that allowed access to some of the areas many undeveloped crags pending the development of a larger management plan. For more information, see www.accessfund.org/regions/news/WA.
Saturday's stewardship project was an Access Fund-organized TeamWorks event that seeks to educate young indoor climbers on the transition from inside to outside environments by focusing on Leave No Trace ethics and responsible rock climbing habits. TeamWorks is designed to instill and foster a sense of stewardship and pride in caring for our outside climbing environments leading to long term conservation of climbing areas.
For more on this Access Fund program, see www.boulderproject/teamworks. The Newhalem trail project was assisted by kids from Seattles "Vertical World" youth climbing team who got their first chance to climb on a real rock face, rather than on a wall in a climbing gym.
Charles Beall, from North Cascades National Park, says "This really is a success story. The National Park Service, working with the climbing groups and other partners, has found a way to accommodate this recreational use, while balancing our mandate to protect park resources."
Saturdays trail project at Newhalem was assisted by the Washington Trails Associationwho provided trail building expertise and toolsand The Wilderness Society who provided logistical support and help at the event. For more information regarding this event, contact Access Fund Regional Coordinator Jonah Harrison (email@example.com) or the Washington Climbers Coalition (Info@washingtonclimbers.org).
Castleton Trail Damaged in Flash Flood, UT
The Castleton Tower access trail suffered severe damage on Thursday, August 7, 2008, due to an exceptional, localized thunderstorm and the resulting flash flood. The Grand County Utah Road Department estimates two inches of rain fell in 45 minutes. Several large sections of the trail were washed away. The upper traverse below Castleton Tower and over to the Rectory is basically gone and is more exposed in a number of places.
The route has been flagged so that climbers can identify it. This was done to prevent the development of redundant trails and to protect the threatened plant species that exist in the area that, by law, the BLM is required to protect. The flagging is temporary and will be removed after the trail is repaired. Climber cooperation in staying on the flagged route and leaving the flagging in place is greatly appreciated.
Trail work will occur during an Adopt-a-Crag event sponsored and jointly funded by the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and Utah Open Lands. The Adopt-a-Crag event will take place on October 24, 25, and 26. Builders of the trail, The Rocky Mountain Field Institute, will lead the work parties. Volunteers are needed for this event so please feel free to contact the event coordinator Dave Erley of Utah Open Lands at 435-259-4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up. Volunteers are welcome to work as many days as their schedules will allow but should coordinate with Dave in order to make sure tools and other resources are available.
The Adopt-a-Crag event was scheduled in May and was not funded to do the scale of work necessitated by the storm. Thus, additional funding is needed to repair the trail. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send your tax-deductible donation to:
Utah Open Lands
2188 S. Highland Drive, Suite 203
Salt Lake City, Utah 84106
Please specify in the memo section of your check dedicated funds for CT trail work.
Fire Spending Impacts Outdoor Recreation
Climbing Management Initiatives Delayed
US Forest Service (USFS) funding for many programs vital to Americans' enjoyment of our National Forests is about to disappear as the agency redirects money earmarked for those programs to fight fires. Climbing access is routinely affected across the West because the USFS is forced to divert dollars normally used for recreation management to address forest fire emergencies. In late August the Chief of the USFS Abigail Kimbell announced that the agency has depleted its $1.18 billion fire suppression budget for fiscal year 2008 and has initiated a recall of $400 million from agency programs throughout the nation. The result is that many projects benefiting outdoor recreationists will be put on hold until the end of the fiscal year (October) or until 2009.
Chief Kimbell stated, Firefighting activity and costs have risen steadily and drastically over the past several years due to the increased need and costs of protecting homes built near natural areas, drought, and climate change. The agency's fire fighting budget is based on a ten-year rolling average of past fire-fighting costs, which regularly fails to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment. Read the message from the USFS Chief here: www.fs.fed.us/news/2008/releases/08/fire-impacts.pdf
This $400 million recall will be felt directly by the millions of people that treasure America's national forests as places to climb, hike, bike, paddle, ski, and snowshoe. Collaborative efforts to protect the environment and encourage public enjoyment will be hampered by agency staff's inability to travel to meetings. Recently a formal mediation process between the Allied Climbers of San Diego and the USFS regarding climbing closures to protect cliff-nesting raptors (or the lack thereof) has been stalled because the Cleveland National Forest needed to use its money and staff resources to fight fires. On USFS lands across the country, research efforts will be ceasedright in the middle of the prime data collection seasonwhich will likely delay many agency actions for one year. Grants and partnerships will be frozen and construction and watershed restoration projects will be put on hold.
Forward thinking Federal lawmakers responded to this recurring problem in March of this year by introducing the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act, also known as the FLAME Act. The FLAME Act would create a supplemental funding source for catastrophic emergency wildland fire suppression activities on federal lands and would require agency leaders to develop a cohesive wildland fire management strategy. The FLAME Act, which has drawn wide support from the outdoor recreation community, passed in the House on July 9th and is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Learn more about the content and status of the FLAME Act by searching www.thomas.gov for H.R. 5541 or FLAME Act.
Help Protect Upper West Bolton Cliff, VT
By Travis Peckham, President, CRAG-VT
CRAG-VT has recently received approval from landowners and the Bolton Select Board to purchase one of Vermont's most popular and historic climbing areas- Upper West Bolton Cliff. With trad, sport, and ice climbs, its exceptional boulder field, magnificent views, and quiet and wild setting, Upper West is one of Vermont's best climbing areas.
Over the past 40 years, everyone from beginners to climbing legends has become a part of the cliff's colorful history. While attending the University of Vermont in the 1970's, John Bouchard cut his teeth on the green schist of Upper West before becoming one of our country's most accomplished alpinists. Bouchard made an indelible mark when he established The Rose (5.10a) and The Thorn (5.11a), two routes that represent some of the best crack climbing the Northeast has to offer.
In the early 1990's, Upper West Bolton Cliff was closed to climbing. After years of closure, CRAG-VT board members were able to work with landowners to restore access. CRAG-VT has since maintained positive relations with the landowners and is now in a position to broker a permanent solution by acquiring the cliff. We must act now to ensure that this cliff is protected forever.
CRAG-VT is working with the Access Fund to mobilize local climbers to help complete this important project. The Access Fund has awarded CRAG-VT a supporting grant for this acquisition, but we need additional funding and more help from the climbing community. Please contact us if you have a fundraising idea, can make an online donation, or want to volunteer. With your help, we can purchase and protect this land forever.
Please visit www.cragvt.org to learn more.
Madrone Wall Update, OR
PUBLIC MEETING #2:
WHEN: September 24 (Wednesday); 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Clackamas County Sunnybrook Service Center
Auditorium First Floor
9101 S. E. Sunnybrook Blvd.
Clackamas, Oregon 97015
The County is working with the community to complete a feasibility study and develop a concept Parks Master Plan for the Madrone Wall. THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY to attend and provide input on future uses of and improvements to this site, including the potential creation of a park.
Comments, suggestions, or questions regarding this Park Master Planning process should be sent to Katie Dunham at email@example.com(503-794-8051) or Chris VanDuzer at firstname.lastname@example.org (503-353-4663). Submissions will be presented at the public meetings.
MADRONE WALL IVY PULL
Please help restore native plant biodiversity and ecosystem to the Madrone Wall by removing invasive plants (e.g., Himalayan blackberry, English ivy). Join us at our first opportunity to make a difference at this amazing civic treasure since the site was closed 11 years ago! This is a great event if you are looking for an environmental public service project.
WHEN: SEPTEMBER 27 (SATURDAY)
MEET AT: Carver School Parking Lot
(CARPOOL TO SITE FROM SCHOOL, www.carverschool.org/Find_Us)
16077 S.E. Highway 224
Damascus, Oregon 97089
WHAT TO BRING: Appropriate safety equipment (work gloves, work boots, etc.); water, hat, sunscreen; dress for weather (rain or shine!); gardening tools (loppers, pruners, shears, small hand saws, shovels, dandelion pickers, weed wrenches, digging tools, etc.).
RSVP to by 20 September to: email@example.com
Following the work, there will be a BBQ party sponsored by Climb Max Mountaineering and a raffle sponsored by the Access Fund in the Carver School parking lot (free to all Ivy Pull participants).
Western Colorado Climbers Coalition, CO
By Eve Tallman
The Western Colorado Climbers Coalition, based in Grand Junction, has had a fortuitous month. The group has established 501(c)3 status and received notification about a $5,000 grant from REI for projects relating to the immediate needs of Unaweep Canyon access. This puts the coalition on track to continue efforts to find a climber-friendly buyer for Lower Mothers Buttress and the Television Wall.
The Coalition's website is www.westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com . If you that haven't yet had a chance to climb in Unaweep and want to see what the fuss is about, check out www.mountainproject.com.
Madrone Wall Update, OR
By Keith Daellenbach
The third, and last, public involvement meeting concerning the Madrone Wall planning was held October 29. Clackamas County unveiled a draft of the Madrone Wall Final Concept Design. (An earlier design of the area, which has since been abandoned, proposed banning climbing and chopping existing bolts.)
This new design is the result of two previous meetings held in August and September, as well as public outreach efforts that solicited comments from 235 climbers, local citizens, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The design is available for download at www.savemadrone.org and shows onsite parking, trails, and a trailhead kiosk.
The next step is for the County Parks Advisory Board to approve the design at their January 20, 2009 meeting. The meeting will be held at 150 Beavercreek Road, Oregon City at 6:00pm. The Board of County Commissioners must also approve the design at their study session, which is tentatively slated for February 3, 2009 (details available at www.clackamas.us/bcc/schedule.htm). The public is encouraged to attend both meetings.
Red River Gorge, KY - Torrent Falls Reopens
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director, Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition
On August 1, 2008, the privately owned Torrent Falls climbing area reopened to the public on a limited basis after being closed for over a year and a half. The area was closed when climber behavior conflicted with the use of the property as a tourist resort. After the property was sold, the current owner maintained the public climbing closure but made known their intention to reopen the area at some point.
Limited public access is now being granted, free of charge (per KRS 411.190), to those who sign a waiver and register on www.torrentfallsclimbing.com. The number of parties and cars (car-pool!) is limited to three, with a recommended maximum group size of three. Access is allowed on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. Online registration begins at 6am each day and is valid only for the day of registration. The entrance gate to Torrent operates from 8am until 8pm with the code provided during registration. The gate is locked at all other times, so please plan your day accordingly. Each vehicle is required to display a valid parking pass obtained during the online registration. Vehicles without passes will be towed or immobilized.
Ever since Torrent Falls was purchased by current RRGCC President Dr. Robert Matheny, Jr., the Coalition has been holding open Board meetings there. Meeting attendees are allowed the privilege of climbing for that day. After improvements are completed on the lodge building, the RRGCC plans to lease one of the rooms for office space. Because of term limits, Dr. Bob's position on the RRGCC Board will expire in spring 2009. The RRGCC truly appreciates all that Dr. Bob has done for the organization in his six years as a Board member and thanks him for giving us the opportunity to establish Torrent Falls as our new office and base of operations!
Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson Visits NC and CA
Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson hit the road this June with site visits to Asheville, North Carolina and San Diego, California. In early June Brady visited with members of the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) and Boone Climbers Coalition (BCC) who are working on access issues and opportunities at Grandmother boulders, Asheboro boulders, Laurel Knob, Rumbling Bald, Chimney Rock, and Perrys Paradise. It was great to meet with the CCC and BCC. Both local climbing organizations (LCOs) have done so much for climbing access in North Carolina and really are model LCOs, said Brady. And, of course, I enjoyed climbing at my old backyard crags.
Later in the month, Brady met with members of the Allied Climbers of San Diego at their annual Summer Celebration Fundraising event. While in San Diego, Brady had the opportunity to visit climbing areas within the Cleveland National Forest that are threatened with an extensive proposed closure. (See Access Fund Action Alert: www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/54.) Seeing the closure area in person really underscores how overreaching the Forest Services proposal is, noted Brady. The proposed closure goes well beyond the sensible bird nesting closures in place at climbing areas across the country. There is plenty of room for climbers and birds of prey in the Cleveland National Forest. The climbers I met with are committed to protecting raptor habitat and would support a more focused management strategy. I am confident we will be able to find a good compromise.
New LCO in Northern California Forges Ahead
On June 27, at Sacramento Pipeworks (owned by Access Fund Corporate Partner Touchstone Climbing), climbers from the Sacramento area had their second organizational meeting. CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento) will now be the official name of the new Access Fund Affiliate. They chose nine people to be on the Board of Directors and will be filing Articles of Incorporation in the next month.
CRAGS is a nonprofit organization protecting access to Northern California climbing areas; advocating for climbers' interests; constructively addressing the concerns of landowners and other land users; and working to keep climbing areas clean, safe, and healthy.
Corbin CragPost Falls Spokane River, WA
By Rusty Bailie, Kootenai Klimbers
Some folks who read about the City of Post Falls acquiring Corbin Crag have been asking if its open for climbing. The cliff in question is on the far side of the river when viewed from the old concrete ramp in Corbin Park. The new city land is closely surrounded by private houses and the only access road is on closed private roads. One of the major purposes of this deal was to ensure the privacy and environmental integrity of the parcel. Given all this, it will take a great deal of careful and creative planning to devise a long-term public access strategy.
We are working with the Parks and Recreation Department to formulate a climbing plan. Anyone interested in helping out or exploring the area can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graffiti Removal at the Northwest Branch, MD
By Ocean Eiler, Access Fund Regional Coordinator for Virginia
It was a hot, muggy morning as I walked outside with my first cup of coffee. The fog was thick and suffocating. Taking a sip of coffee, I smirked to myself. Of course the first day of summer would come on the day I'd planned to do a mini crag cleanup. Out of the fog, Gill appeared.
Forty-five minutes later, we were in the parking lot of Northwest Branch Park (NWB) with the leaders that managed the NWB Adopt-A-Crag two months earlier. Previously cold weather conditions had shutdown our plans to do graffiti removal from the boulders. Today, with temperatures predicted in the upper 90s, this was not a problem.
The players were Addison Helmke, Chris Irwin, Scott Kragen, Thomson Ling, Gill Lingenfelter, Nicole Martino, Libby Sommer, and myself. Donning protective eye-ware and gloves, we armed ourselves with buckets and brushes and headed off into the boulder fields.
Our main focus was a popular boulder called Reefer Rock. Over the years it has attracted many an aspiring graffiti artist. This translates to numerous paint layers.
Water, brushing, and positive thoughts alone would not remove this paint. We came armed with a secret weapon, Soytech. Soytech is a biodegradable (soy-based) graffiti removal product that was donated to us by Randy Frees at Soy Technologies, LLC. His huge donation made this venture a reality.
Roughly four hours later we had made a significant dent in the graffiti covering Reefer Rock. I would love to say we removed all of it but the layers of graffiti were just too dense in places. However, as we surveyed our work I think we felt good about what we had done. These first steps are part of a much larger commitment to the Northwest Branch crag.
Thank you to Mid Atlantic Climbers, Access Fund, and the Maryland, Virginia, and DC climbing communities that help support us. A special thank you to Randy Frees at Soy Technologies, LLC, without his help this project would not have been possible.
Road Improvements at Muir Valley, KY
By Doris Edwards, Friends of Muir Valley, Co-Chairperson
On May 29, the half-mile lane leading back to Muir Valley was closed for one week so that it could undergo major rebuilding. This was deemed necessary by the preserve owners due to the increasing number of climbing visitorsclose to 600 during the Memorial Day weekend alone.
Two large, blind hills were completely removed during construction to make the drive into the Valley much safer. Although not completely finished, the road was reopened on June 7.
Visitors to Muir Valley are asked to drive slowly on the new road as the shoulders are soft and the ditches steep at this time. Cleanup along the side of the new road will continue by Friends of Muir Valley volunteers over the next few weeks.
Yosemite National Park Revises Schedule for Merced River Plan, CA
Yosemite National Park (YNP) is proposing a revised planning schedule for the Merced River Plan that could restrict climbing and camping access in Yosemite Valley. This plan could limit the number of campsites in the Valley and, in a worst case scenario, restrict climbing access to some crags along the river. This new project schedule, if approved by the court, will be completed in December 2011 and is in response to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling requiring YNP to impose numeric limits on visitors in the Merced River corridor. For more background on this issue, see www.accessfund.org/pubs/en/e-news90.htm#_Two_Access_Lawsuits.
The courts order directs YNP to establish new wilderness trailhead quotas and numeric limits in the management corridor (approximately mile on each side of the river) to determine whether Wild and Scenic River values are protected and enhanced. YNP will now transition to site-specific planning in Yosemite Valley to analyze specific types and levels of public use, as well as evaluate the appropriateness of specific facilities.
The new December 2011 completion date envisions that the NPS will re-examine site-specific planning decisions for many areas formerly addressed by the 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan. A public scoping period will begin as soon as possible, and publication and distribution of preliminary alternatives will begin in summer of 2009. By January 2011, YNP will publish a Draft Merced River Plan. Both of these planning phases will be open for public review and comment with a final plan decision due around December 2011.
To stay tuned to the progress of the plan and to get involved, see www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/newmrp.htm. The Access Fund will continue to monitor the progress of the Merced River Plan to ensure that climbing access is not unreasonably restricted. For more information email email@example.com.
Blue Ridge Parkway Prepares General Management Plan
The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing a general management plan (GMP) for the Blue Ridge Parkway. This plan could affect high-quality bouldering and climbing areas such as Grandmother Boulders and Shiprock. The Carolina Climbers Coalition has been working with the NPS to maintain climbing access to these popular areas. For more background, see www.carolinaclimbers.org/Ship-Rock.html.
This GMP will provide a vision for the parkway's future and help guide decision-making for the next 20 years, including recreation policy that could affect climbing access. The Blue Ridge Parkway has developed three preliminary alternatives, and 15 of the parkways large recreation areas are addressed in these three alternatives.
Review the draft plan and submit comments http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?....
For more information, contact the Carolina Climbers Coalition: www.carolinaclimbers.org.
Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition Formed
On March 29, the Access Funds Grassroots Coordinator, Charlie Boas, met with El Paso locals and visiting climbers to form/reform a local climbing organization.
Prompted by the recent closure of the Mushroom Boulder, the new Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition (CHTC) met to discuss the history and future of Hueco Tanks climbers groups with long-time local Dave Head and Hueco Rock Ranch Managers Rob Rice and Charles Kelly.
After some fantastic homemade burritos and a few cervezas, the new coalition has decided on a name, selected a Board of Directors, and scheduled a second meeting for early May.
At the next meeting the CHTC will be deciding on a mission statement and planning for an upcoming fundraiser scheduled for September 2008.
For more information, please contact Charlie Boas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Climbing Access Threatened at Sunset Rock
By Samantha Christen, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
Climbing at Sunset Park, one of the premier trad areas in Tennessee, is in danger of being nothing but a bittersweet memory, according to representatives of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC).
Matthew Gant, a member of the SCC board, said the National Park Service was recently on the verge of shutting down climbing at Sunset. One month ago the rangers had given up on climbers and had made plans for closing Sunset to climbing permanently, Gant says. He further explains that the park service cited numerous negative incidents involving climbers, including loudness (Sunset is in a residential area), blocking trails with ropes and gear, and unruly dogs. Local climber groups were able to convince the park service not to go ahead with the climbing ban. According to Grant, the rangers want to see more involvement in education, monitoring, and self-policing of the crag by groups like the SCC.
Sunset Park is part of the Chickamauga National Battlefield Park, a major battle in the Civil War. As such, it is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Samantha Christen, the SCCs area representative for Sunset, points out that this is the only military park in the U.S. that allows climbing, and there is no particular obligation for the NPS to continue this practice. At any point in time, they (NPS) can come in and shut us down with absolutely no explanation, she says.
The SCC has been a key organization in maintaining the sometimes uneasy relationship between climbers, the park service, and the residents of Lookout Mountain. Volunteers from the group have put in a tremendous number of person-hours on trail work, erosion control, and installing bolted anchors to spare the trees at the top of the cliff. Christen says the park service appreciates this work, but only to a point. We are only, in their eyes, fixing what we broke, she says. In their eyes, we, at this point, really have done no preventative maintenance, just repair of damaged areas.
The NPS maintains Sunset as a memorial to the Civil War battle; recreation is a secondary concern. This is especially true in light of recent government cutbacks, which have left the park service shorthanded. If climbers make the rangers job more difficult, they may consider it easiest just to get rid of the problem by banning climbing, Christen and Gant say. The park service does not hate us, nor do they wish to see us go as a user-group, Christen says. However, with the decrease in manpower due to federal cutbacks, they are prepared to take necessary measures to ensure that they are able to do their jobs.
The SCC is currently working on a plan for educating Sunset climbers on the issues involved and on how to deal with people who violate the rules. Some possible steps include fliers to hand out or put on climbers cars; letters to climbing gyms, school clubs, and outdoor organizations; and encouraging people to ask their fellow climbers to move their gear off the trail or keep their voices down.
In the end, though, it will come down to whether Sunset climbers care enough about this great destination to do the right thing. All it will take is a few uncaring individuals out of the thousands who climb at Sunset every year to put an end to almost 50 years of great southern climbing. For the latest status of Sunset and what you can do to help, go to the SCC website: www.seclimbers.org/index.php