Portland Climber Activist Summit a Success, OR
By Kellie Rice, Access Fund Regional Coordinator-Oregon
On February 1 and 2, over two dozen climbers and land managers from Oregon and Washington participated at a summit focused on climbing access and conservation issues. The mission of the summit was to create a forum where climbers and land managers could openly discuss the management of recreational climbing on public lands.
Participants included land managers from North Cascades National Park, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington State Parks, and various U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agencies in Oregon. Climbers from both states included members of the Washington Climbers Coalition, the Smith Rock Group, Mazamas, as well as current and past Access Fund Regional Coordinators for both states. AF Policy Director Jason Keith also attended.
There were several presentations during this two day Summit: Bob Sallinger with the Portland Audubon Society, Mike Gauthier with Mt Rainier National Park, Kathleen Walker and Maryellen Fitzgerald with Mt Hood National Forest, Ian Caldwell with the Smith Rock Group, and Keith Daellenbach with the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee. Sarah Madsen, a Regional Biologist with the USFS, and Russell Holmes, a Regional Botanist, helped lead a panel discussion with Bob Sallinger about sensitive plants and threatened and endangered species in the Pacific Northwest.
Climbers and land managers discussed several issues of importance, including climbing fees, route development, management plans, Native lands, and wildlife issues. Land managers cited instances of positive communication with climbers, as well as suggested areas for improvement. One communication issue was the lack of information for climbers about sensitive plants and animals related to closures and restrictions. USFS agreed that such information could be posted on their website for specific regions to educate various recreational user-groups about why some areas need to be protected. Another topic of discussion concerned peregrine falcons at Beacon Rock. The current ranger at Beacon Rock stated that because of climber involvement with monitoring, Beacon Rock has opened early for the last three years instead of the projected July 15 opening date.
Thanks goes out to Nikes Rock Gym for their support in this event. Attendees felt that the discussions were positive and that similar climbing summits would be beneficial to keeping the lines of communication open in the future.
Williamson Rock Update, CA
By Troy Mayr, Friends of Williamson Rock
The Williamson Rock area has been temporarily 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. The US Forest Service (USFS), which manages the land, is enforcing the closure.
Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) recently met with the local USFS office to discuss the situation at Williamson Rock. Because the closure area prevents access to a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail and Williamson Rock, the process is stalled. The USFS proposed the construction of a bridge across Little Rock Creek as a means of protecting the MYLF and providing access to the Pacific Crest Trail. USFWS rejected this proposal stating, "MYLF was not adequately protected." This information will inform any solution proposed by FoWR.
FoWR also learned that the USFS Office of General Council needs to resolve how to address the continued 'temporary' closure of Williamson Rock. FoWR will follow this issue closely.
The USFS stated that they "applaud FoWR for forming the group. It has made a difference. Frankly, this issue would be ignored without you".
USFS still has not decided what type of environmental documentation is required before a management plan can be implemented for Williamson Rock. FoWR will keep the climbing community informed on the process.
Visit www.williamsonrock.org to stay up to date.
Access Update, NC
By Anthony Love, President, Carolina Climbers Coalition
In October 2007, the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) held its annual Fall meeting during the 15th annual Hound Ears Bouldering Competition. Elections for new officers were held, and the new group set out to conquer the tasks remaining from the last year and to seek new opportunities for the new year.
During the weekend following the Hound Ears leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Competition, the CCC officially opened the Asheboro boulderfield. The Asheboro Boulders, located in Randolf County, NC had been closed to the climbing community until 2007. In 2003, Mike Dean negotiated an agreement with the landowner to allow the CCC to lease the land. The deal came to fruition in 2007 after a lengthy property dispute and the installation of a new road to the property. The terms of the lease offer climbing access to current or new members of the CCC. To climb at the Asheboro Boulders, please renew or become a member of the CCC. www.carolinaclimbers.org
Laurel Knob has been open to the public now for a little over two years. To date, all the established routes (save one) have been rebolted. As part of the land management plan for the area, the CCC asked climbers to complete an application process to put up new routes. Currently, two routes have been established and 6 more are in the works. The CCC greatly appreciates the efforts of all who have applied and taken part in this process.
Two rescue situations have provided the opportunity to strengthen the capabilities of the Cashiers Volunteer Rescue Squad, as well as install better trail marking for the trail system. Since climbing at Laurel Knob is such a rich experience (read: strenuous hike, big imposing routes over some spicy terrain), the CCC will be hosting an event at the Knob called Get in the Groove to help acclimatize folks to the trail, the cliff and its routes. Come climbing February 23 & 24 and get in the groove!
The CCC greatly appreciates all who gave comments regarding alternative plans for the Developed Area Management Plan for the Moses Cone Memorial Park (which includes the Blowing Rock Boulderfield). The National Park Service is in the process of refining their alternatives. Visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?... to keep up with news of the project.
Lastly, the CCC will hold their annual spring meeting at Stone Mountain, NC at 5:00pm on March 15th. Please join the fun!
Visit the CCC online at: www.carolinaclimbers.org to renew your membership or join, to find out more information on the Get in the Groove Event, and receive additional information on whats happening in the Carolina climbing community.
Clarification of Rules Affecting Climbing and Slack Lines in Yosemite National Park, CA
National Parks are regulated by laws published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Each park also has a Superintendents Compendium that acts as a supplement to the CFR. For example, Yosemites Compendium includes rules controlling everything from wilderness protection and fires to campground rules as well as climbing route closures that protect cliff-nesting raptors. Each park updates its compendium regularly, and recently Yosemite National Park issued an update clarifying its rules governing climbing anchors and ropes as well as slack lines.
Yosemites new compendium relaxes the previous rule requiring climbers to obtain wilderness permits for bivouacs on Yosemites walls. Additionally, the new compendium specifically addresses climbing gear left on walls and slack lines left in campsites.
The new compendium is now available at:
www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/loader... (821 kb PDF)
See page 5 and 6 for anchor and rope updates
See page 6 and 7 for slack line updates
For more information contact Yosemite National Park by phone (209)-372-0200 or by mail:
PO Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389.
LAC Final Meeting Scheduled, Red River Gorge, KY
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
On Tuesday February 19, 2008 the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) process for Red River Gorge will wrap up in one final review meeting at the Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisors Office in Winchester, Kentucky. The last two LAC meetings held in January 2008 have focused on potential management actions if recreational impacts exceed LAC standards. In relation to climbing, 245 climbsites in Red River Gorge have been found to have measurable impacts but only 25 of theses sites exceed LAC standards. A climbsite is a staging area at the base of one or more climbing routes. Proposed management actions to mitigate impacts above standards include trail relocation, climbsite modifications using native materials to reduce size and erosion, and site hardening using non-native materials. Additional management actions in support of the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalitions goal to improve all climbsites include signage, education efforts, and evaluation of ways to reduce impacts even where LAC standards are not exceeded.
Undoubtedly the results of the Red River Gorge LAC process are precedent setting and not just for climbing. Throughout the process climbers have worked hard to make sure that LAC efforts to limit impacts do not at the same time limit climbing. The final results of LAC are expected to lead to a Climbing Management Plan that will provide procedures and guidelines for new routes and areas to be developed. This outcome would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of the climbers involved in almost monthly meetings over the last three years: Dwight Bradburn, RRGCC Treasurer; Shannon Stuart-Smith; past RRGCC Executive Director and Board Member; Jim Holzman, past RRGCC Board Member; Chris Carr, Recreational Ecologist; and Rita Wehner, USFS Backcountry Ranger.
North Cascades National Park Agrees to Allow New Climbing Routes in the Skagit River Gorge, WA
Since 2003, the Access Fund has worked with climbing activists in Washington State to respond to concerns of the North Cascades National Park regarding climbing and bouldering impacts in the Skagit River Gorge near Newhalem, Washington. These areas host high quality sport climbing and extensive bouldering www.misha.org/Climbing/Newhalem/Map1.html. Unfortunately, much of the bouldering requires extensive cleaning of moss and lichen.
In 2003 climbers and park officials agreed to a moratorium on the development of new climbing routes and bouldering problems pending the establishment of a climbing management plan (CMP). The CMP could authorize new route development after environmental and cultural resource surveys are completed. Since 2003, climbers have fulfilled their end of the bargain, but the National Park Service was unable, for a variety of reasons, to complete a new CMP that allowed new route development. For more background, see www.accessfund.org/pdf/RossLake-NRA_12-03.pdf.
In September 2007, climbers met with North Cascades National Parks new Superintendent and Chief Ranger to discuss the ongoing new route ban. The parties agreed to a compromise that would allow new climbing routes on cliffs that already experienced climbing traffic prior to 2003, while the balance of the Skagit River Gorge could be reopened following the completion of an ongoing general management planning process for the Ross Lake National Recreation Area.
This climbing access success is a result of the dogged activism of the Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC) and the National Park Services flexibility towards balancing recreation and resource protection.
For more information on whats open and whats not, stay tuned to the WCC website: www.washingtonclimbers.org/Climbing/.
SCC Update, GA, AL, TN
By Paul Morley, Board Member, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
During the past couple of months, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) held several comps and trail days in areas such as Boat Rock, GA (newly purchased by the SCC), Jamestown, AL (owned by the SCC), Castle Rock, TN (leased by the SCC), and Sunset Rock, TN.
During the annual "Float the Boat" competition, several climbers participated in a pre-comp Adopt-a-Crag cleanup and later pulled down on slabs of Georgia Granite. New access was gained to the Jamestown cliff line where climbers and volunteers spent the day clearing a new road and parking area for the new trail. Castlerock, a recent lease by the SCC, was also a hotspot for trail work as several bags of trash were carried out from the area, and some anchors were replaced. During November, climbers and volunteers worked to preserve the trails around Sunset Rock, one of Tennessee's finest areas.
Over the past few months, trail work has been extensive and work hours have been long, but it is a small price to pay for knowing that a crag is OPEN. The SCC is looking forward to the next few months as many more trail days and competitions will be held, and with any luck, new areas will be opened.
Hyalite Canyon Road Re-Opened for Ice Climbing Bozeman, MT
By Joe Josephson, Access Fund Regional Coordinator, MT
Following the recent closure of the Hyalite Canyon Road by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the resulting loss of ice climbing access in the Hyalite area, local climbing activists rallied to persuade USFS to reopen the road for day-use access into this ice climbing Mecca.
As a result, on January 3, 2008, the Bozeman Ranger District reopened the Hyalite Road much to the satisfaction of ice climbers, backcountry skiers, and other winter recreation enthusiasts. The re-opening restores the hard-earned access to the upper reaches of the canyon originally obtained by the Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition. The USFS, City of Bozeman, and Gallatin County view the current situation as a test-run for future management of Hyalite in winter.
The road issue at Hyalite has a long and contentious history. USFS has pushed to close the road while a broad range of local Bozeman interests have lobbied for access.
Local ice climbers and backcountry skiers hope that these latest developments signal a compromise that will allow for future recreational access in the Hyalite area. For more background and information on this issue, see www.montanaclimbers.org or Email: email@example.com.
Notification of Action in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV
Beginning January 7, 2008, the Bureau of Land Management will be begin renovating the Late Night parking lot in the southern half of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 4.7 miles west of the junction of State Route 159 and State Route 160. The project is anticipated to be completed within four months.
The Late Night parking lot is a popular access to multiple trails for climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian use. As part of the renovation, the road leading north to Black Velvet Canyon will be temporarily affected and may be closed intermittently or entirely due to its proximity to the construction site.
The parking lot renovation is being funded by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. The renovation will add a new bathroom for the area, hitching posts for horses, about 70 parking spots for cars, and six pull-though spots designed for vehicles with horse trailers.
This notice is for disclosure purposes only. Specific comments are not being sought through this notice.
As always, your questions are welcome concerning projects. Should you have any questions regarding this action or would like a map showing the alternate routes to access hiking and rock climbing in Black Velvet Canyon, please contact the Las Vegas Field Office at 702-515-5138 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trust for Public Land adds the 360-acre Owl's Head Cliff Property to the White Mountain National Forest, NH
TPL Press Release
Benton, NH The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced the protection of 360 acres of land, which feature the towering granite cliff face called Owl's Head, as part of the White Mountain National Forest.
The large parcel of land, located off Route 25 in Benton, New Hampshire, is a popular attraction for rock climbers and hikers and is only a half mile from the Appalachian Trail. The property is bound on three sides by the White Mountain National Forest and has over 6,000 feet of frontage along Oliverian Brook. In addition four, fledgling peregrine falconsmore than at any other site in the statewere observed on the cliff this past year by New Hampshire Audubon.
Last fall, at the urging of local citizens, members of the rock climbing community, and staff of the White Mountain National Forest, TPL negotiated an agreement for the purchase of this important property. On August 30, 2007, TPL purchased the property to temporarily keep it off the market while the Forest Service worked to purchase it. Funding to protect the property was secured through the Land and Water Conservation Fund by the New Hampshire congressional delegation led by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee. A grant from the Access Fund helped enable TPL to purchase the property.
Update on Lost Horse Crag, MT
As a result of continued political activism on the part of the Bitterroot Climbers Coalition, the Ravalli County Commissioners indefinitely tabled (i.e suspended) their vote on a proposal to re-open mining at the Lost Horse Quarry. The proposal would have authorized mining at the quarry, a popular climbing and recreation area for at least five years.
The Commissioners' decision to table the vote represents a big victory for climbers who lobbied vigorously against the proposal. Because the Commissioners decided to suspend the vote as opposed to actually voting against it, climbers may need to mobilize against the proposal in the future.
The climbers are now focusing their organizing efforts on turning the quarry into a climbing park. If you want to help, please email a brief message to email@example.com.
You can also help right away by sending a letter to the Darby Ranger station. Please tell District Ranger Chuck Oliver that you support the effort to turn Lost Horse Quarry and its surrounding areas into a recognized climbing recreation area.
Chuck Oliver, District Ranger
Darby Ranger District
P.O. Box 388
Darby, MT 59828
Red River Gorge, KY LAC Process Nears Completion
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
The Limits of Acceptable Change process for Red River Gorge is nearing an end. After two more LAC Workshops scheduled for January 2008, the recommended alternative is expected to be given to Daniel Boone Forest Supervisor, Jerome Perez for a final decision. The alternative that the LAC group strongly supports is Alternative 2, Balance Recreation and Protection of Resources. The end of the LAC process brings climbers hope that the development of new sport routes in the Gorge will be allowed to resume. A moratorium on new sport route development has been in place for almost five years. The moratorium was initiated during the revision of the Forest Plan for the entire forest and was extended through the three year LAC process.
Another ongoing Forest Service process of interest to climbers is the development of a Heritage Resource Management Plan for Red River Gorge. LAC participants were updated on the status of this process by Forest Archaeologist, Chris Jenkins during the most recent workshop held on December 6, 2007. Mr. Jenkins explained that he is currently working on digesting an 800-page report documenting heritage resources in the Gorge. He said that he needs a couple more months working on the report before he can write the management plan. He thinks that after he is through digesting the report, he can write the Heritage Resource Management Plan in about six weeks. Throughout these Forest Service processes the RRGCC has periodically consulted with the Access Funds Policy Director, Jason Keith.
Moab BLM Management Plan Update, UT
The BLMs Moab Field Office manages 1.8 million acres of public land including classic climbing areas such as the Fisher Towers, Castleton Tower, the Rectory and dozens of other well-traveled areas. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now finalizing a management plan that will affect recreational access as well as several other issues such as off-road vehicle use, mining, oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing, cultural resource protection, and natural resource issues. Climbing is given light treatment, but those wishing to review the implications of this plan and comment on its proposals may write by November 30 to:
Bureau of Land Management
Moab Field Office - RMP Comments
82 East Dogwood
Moab, UT 84532
(435) 259-2100 -
Alternatives B and C (the latter preferred by the BLM) both create recreation focus areas in the Fisher Towers, Castleton, and Potash Road climbing areas, and will generally reduce opportunities for OHV use and the threat of oil and gas drilling. No alternative directs a detailed climbing policy, although Mexican Spotted Owl habitat and heightened Visual Resource Management areas may impose climbing restrictions or the use of new fixed anchors in the Kane Creek, Courthouse Pasture, Behind the Rocks and lower Mill Creek areas. For more information check out: www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/planning/draft_rmp_eia.html.
Canyons of the Ancients Draft Management Plan Comment Period, CO
By Steve Johnson, Colorados West Slope Regional Coordinator
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (CANM) near Cortez, Colorado has released a draft Resource Management Plan. It is available for review at the following website: www.blm.gov/rmp/canm/deis.html. The draft RMP comment period ends on January 25, 2008 after several local public meetings are held.
There is some new climbing activity in CANM on weathered Dakota sandstone, mostly around Yellow Jacket Crag. These routes mostly consist of bolted face climbs; other areas are being explored and new-routed as well. The RMP preferred alternative (# 5) reportedly proposes to restrict rock climbing to unidentified designated areas, with little documentation or analysis of climbing impacts (relative to permitted oil and gas and grazing activities), to the consternation of local climbers. Public comment supportive of expanded rock climbing opportunities and freedoms, emphasizing that climbing could be expanded and also managed to avoid archeological resource impacts, may help modify the final plan.
A new climbers organization, the 4CCC (Four Corners Climbing Coalition), has formed in the Cortez/Dolores area to address the proposed CANM climbing restrictions and other regional issues, including the recent Hawkins Preserve bouldering area closure. The Hawkins Preserve is located in southern Cortez along McElmo Creek and was established to protect archaeological and natural features. It contains some fine bouldering along hard Dakota sandstone bluffs. The 4CCC is working with the Hawkins Preserve owners and The Access Fund to try to resolve liability and resource protection concerns. 4CCC is considering Access Fund affiliation and is welcoming new members. 4CCC can be contacted at: www.freewebs.com/4cornersclimbing/. For more information, contact Ivan Messinger at (970) 739.8072 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lost Horse Canyon Update, MT
By Steve Porcella, Bitterroot Climbers Coalition
Things are looking bad for Lost Horse (see www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/74 for background). Currently the Ravalli County Road Department has submitted a new proposal to the Commissioners to mine rip rap for 5 years. However, because no financial numbers are attached to this proposal and because the last proposals costs were grossly over projected, the Bitterroot Climbers Coalitions (BCC) focus is on repudiating this new proposal as another ill-planned scheme that will surely cost the citizens of Ravalli County too much money while also destroying a valuable recreational asset.
The Lost Horse homeowners are again providing numbers that say Lost Horse rip rap mining is more expensive than the local quarry owners are offering to provide the County. The BCC is asking everyone to send letters to Bitterroot Star, Ravalli Republic and County Commissioners saying that this new proposal is yet again more expensive than what local quarry owners are offering and is a waste of county tax payer money.
The BCC feels confident if we focus on the underlying fiscal implications of this proposal the three commissioners will vote against this new proposal. For more information see www.bitterrootclimbers.org or email email@example.com
Moss Rock Preserve, AL
By Ken Wills, President, Friends of Moss Rock Preserve
On November 5, the Hoover City Council unanimously voted to authorize the Mayor to purchase 79 acres next to Moss Rock Preserve and Simmons and Gwin schools. City ownership of the land will help protect and enhance Moss Rock, as well as potentially provide a new trail up the gorge from Moss Rock to the highest waterfall in the area. Mayor Petelos and City Council need to be thanked for their great work in making this happen.
Now the question is: What will come next? First, the city will have to close the deal and obtain title to the land. Second, the city will likely decide what portions of the land are suitable and needed for school expansion. These areas will likely be on the roadside ridgetops next to the schools and will possibly include the huge, infamous dirt pile that is already cleared and nearly ready for development. A traditional park has been suggested as a possibility for the former dirt pile area as well. The waterfall gorge on a fork of Hurricane Branch behind Simmons School is still in pristine condition, and the Mayor already mentioned a possible trail in that area.
Petzl Roc Trip Brings In Over $30,000 to Preserve Recreational Access, KY
Joint Petzl/Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition press release
This fall Petzl America and the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC) made history with an unprecedented effort to preserve climbing and recreational access in eastern Kentucky. By joining forces for this years annual Rocktoberfest fundraiser and climbers festival, Petzl and the RRGCC raised over $32,000a ten-fold increase from last years event earnings and more than triple the initial goal of raising $10,000 for the RRGCC. Fundraising power was bolstered by a $10,000 matching grant from the Petzl Foundation that provided added incentive for climbers to pitch in for climbing and recreation access in the Red River Gorge area.
In 2004, climbers and advocates of the RRGCC purchased the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, a 750-acre plot of undeveloped land now being developed for climbing, hiking, mountain-biking, and human-powered recreation access. On October 1214, an international crowd of nearly 1,000 climbers gathered for a weekend of clinics, competitions, and celebration. The money raised during the Rocktoberfest weekend will help cover the RRGCCs annual $29,000 mortgage payment (due through 2013) to protect the Pendergrass-Murray Preserve. Without funds to cover the yearly mortgage, the preserve could fall into the hands of interested oil developers, which would shut down climbing on the land.
Fundraising by climbers to preserve access even made national headlines! This years RocTrip/Rocktoberfests philanthropy efforts piqued the interest of National Public Radios Its Only A Game. A segment covering Rocktoberfest aired on the nationally broadcast radio program on October 27. Globally, the event generated buzz on 8a (www.8a.nu), the Internets most widely trafficked sport-climbing site, which now spotlights the Red River Gorge as a world-class climbing destination.
This years Petzl RocTrip showed what can be done when a company with heart and soul gets behind something it believes in, says Robb Shurr, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Access Fund, a national non-profit organization dedicated to keeping climbing areas open and preserving the climbing environment. Having places to climb is fundamental to Petzls business, but they took it one step further and got behind a local access issue with national importance and really pushed for success. Its exactly this sort of involvement, vision, and stewardship that will keep climbing and recreational areas preserved and viable for the future. Shurr continues, The Access Fund has always been proud to have Petzl as one of its biggest and longest standing partnerswere especially proud after seeing the success of this years RocTrip.
We owe the success of this event to the local communitythe volunteers, the RRGCC Board, area businesses, and the 1,000-plus people who came out and put dollars down in support of the Pendergrass-Murray Preserve, says John Evans, Marketing Director for Petzl America. I highly recommend other outdoor companies include this outstanding grassroots event in their outreach programs for 2008. I guarantee Petzl will be back to support this great cause.
The success of Petzl RocTrip/Rocktoberfest 2007 was supported by The Access Fund, Avery Brewing Company, Five Ten, Keen, the climber-friendly Miguels Pizza, La Sportiva, Prana, Red Bull, Red River Gorge Cabin Rentals, Red River Outdoors, Rock and Ice magazine, Sterling Ropes, and The Warriors Way/Desiderata Institute.
Petzl Roc Trip, now in its sixth year, successfully brings the international climbing community together in celebration of the sport, from New Yorks Shawangunks to British Columbias Squamish to Kalymnos, Greece and Millau in the south of France. Open to climbers of all ability levels, the 2007 Petzl Roc Trip/Rocktoberfest featured competitions, clinics, and celebrations of climbing; raised funds and awareness for local and national access issues; and drew over 35 high-profile, sponsored climbing athletes.
San Diego Climbers Face Major Climbing Area Closures and Wildfires, CA
By Stacy Roberts, Associate Director and President, Allied Climbers of San Diego
San Diego climbers are holding strong and uniting as a community to fight for climbing access, recover after major fires hit Southern California, and to work closely with the Access Fund.
The Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) have been patiently awaiting an Environmental Assessment regarding a proposal by the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) that would deny well-established climbing in order to create nesting habitat for non-threatened golden eagles and prairie falcons based on historical nesting of eagles in the vicinity. This proposal will close off climbing areas that have no indication of eagles nests ever being present on the cliff faces that climbers use, or within view of climbers activities.
This action is unprecedented. No conflict exists between climbers and eagles at the areas proposed for closures. The CNFs proposals encompass 2,640 feet in all directions of supposed historical nests, yet they have refused to provide any evidence to support their claims of these cliffs as nesting locations. The outcome of this proposal could have national implications due to the CNF invoking authority for this action under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA is an act of commerce that covers over 800 species, some as common as the crow, swallow, and hummingbird. Accordingly, climbing areas across the country could become more susceptible to unnecessary and unjustified access closures because all climbing takes place on crags and in areas that could be considered suitable nesting habitat for birds covered under the MBTA.
In other news, due to recent wildfires in much of southern California, all southern California National Forests have been closed until further notice. These fires also affected a majority of San Diegos crags. ACSD is working to assess damage, educate the San Diego climbing community on the status of these crags, and find out where they can physically help out with restoration, trail maintenance and other volunteer efforts. At this point, local crags that are known to be affected by the fires include Eagle Peak, El Cajon Mtn, and Mt. Woodson. Whether or not the rock has exfoliated on certain routes or entire sections of the rock (due to the extreme temperatures of the fire) is still to be determined. Up to date information will be posted on the Allied Climbers website as it becomes verifiably available: www.allliedclimbers.org.
ACSD has been working closely with the Access Fund to maintain climbing access in San Diego. Recently Brady Robinson (the new executive director of the Access Fund) along with other key Access Fund staff took a trip to San Diego to meet with ACSD members, the Cleveland National Forest, and to check out some of San Diegos precious climbing destinations. Unfortunately, their visit coincided with the fires, but before they left, the Access Fund team got a better understanding of the size and significance of the areas that are being threatened, the commitment of the San Diego climbing community to stand up for their recreational user rights, and of course they managed to squeeze in a little climbing as well.
As we continue to wait on the Environmental Assessment from the CNF, the Access Fund and ACSD will continue to suggest reasonable solutions to the Forest Service. For important background information on this issue and to see the AFs and the ACSDs position on this issue please go to: www.alliedclimbers.org/cnf_timeline.php.
Sunset Park, Lookout Mountain, TN
By Samantha Christen, Sunset Park Representative, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
Civil War veterans established the Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Battlefield in the late 1800s to memorialize the catastrophic battles that took place in this region. Spread over two states and four counties, the park is not only the oldest and largest National Military Park in the United States, but also home to one of the most historic climbing areas in the Southeast: Sunset Park.
In recent years there have been numerous, and growing, complaints to the rangers at Point Park about climbers and climbers behavior; there have been an equal number of remarks made among the climbing community regarding the rangers. Though we definitely are not the only user-group to enjoy the natural resources of Sunset Park, we are most often the scapegoat due to our high visibility.
In order to maintain the privilege of climbing in this historic area, we must be good stewards of our resources and good ambassadors of our sport. Please help us to foster and maintain good relations with the National Park Service and with individual rangers by honoring park regulations. The following regulations are posted on all kiosks and are available online.
Observe the One Hour parking spots.
Observe the posted "out" times. These times change seasonally; take note as you are hiking in.
Dogs must be on a leash (and you on the other end!) at all times.
Groups of 10 or more are required to obtain a permit through the Ranger Station (423-821-7788).
Do not block the trail. Don't make hikers walk over your rope, gear, dog, food, self or pack.
Observe the "Landscape Restoration" and other posted "Keep Out" areas. The SCC has put in a lot of time and money to re-vegetate these areas; trampled plants equates to wasted SCC money, which equates to less SCC money to buy/lease climbing areas.
Practice Leave No Trace principles: Pack it in and pack it out.
Be considerate of your language and volume.
Most of all have fun and be safe!
As climbers, must do our part to preserve history, not only the history of our country, but also the history of our chosen pastime. It is up to us, the climbers of this generation, to pass along the history of our sacred places.
Feel free to contact your local NPS Ranger with any questions or concerns. The Ranger Station number at Point Park is 423-821-7788. Ranger John Housch may be reached either via phone at 423-298-7137 or email at John_Housch@nps.gov Ranger Doug Briggs may be reached at Doug_Briggs@nps.gov.
You may also contact the SCC directly via firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may contact Samantha Christen, the Sunset Park representative for the SCC, at email@example.com.
Update on Oak Flat and Queen Creek, AZ
By Erik Filsinger, Land Advocacy Chair, Arizona Mountaineering Club
Over the past several months members of the local Arizona climbing community have expressed concern about the substance and process surrounding the proposed federal legislative land exchange involving Oak Flat near the Queen Creek climbing areas. See www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3301.
The Governor of Arizona raised a number of serious concerns about the states role www.mynewdb.com/QC/GovToEdPastor_Letter.pdf, as have local Native American communities about the displacement of historic lands www.mining-law-reform.info/IndexSup.htm.
These political developments and growing unrest within the climbing community regarding the enforceability and longevity of the access license to climbing in Queen Creek Canyon resulted in considerable discussions with elected officials and the filing of testimony to a congressional hearing on the proposed legislation. See: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=32&extmode=flat. Due in part to these local-based actions, the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, does not appear to be forwarding any legislation this year for further action. For more information on the activities and local concerns, see: www.amcaz.org/main/QueenCreek/amcActionStepsQC.html or contact Paul Diefenderfer at firstname.lastname@example.org.