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Climbers Working to Preserve Climbing Access at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK

By Aaron Gibson, WMCC Board Member/AF Regional Coordinator

The Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC) is working to ensure that the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and compatibility review process being conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Refuge Service will not adversely affect the long-standing tradition of rock climbing in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR) of Oklahoma.

Board members of the WMCC have met with the WMWR Refuge manager and Refuge personnel on several occasions to discuss the upcoming review.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) both issued written responses to the National Director of the USFWS, Dale Hall, clearly stating their concerns about the compatibility review and their support for continuation of rock climbing in the Refuge.

The Wichitas, as they are commonly known, offers a unique wilderness climbing experience that is unmatched by any other area in the Midwest. Climbers went through a similar struggle in the early 90s and, upon organizing, were successful in protecting the tradition of climbing in the Refuge. Since that time the WMCC has maintained a healthy working relationship with the Refuge personnel in managing climbing activities.

The CCP process is expected to begin sometime this year and the WMCC anticipates being a key partner. For more information see or email


Lost Horse Canyon, MT

By Steve Porcella, Bitterroot Climbers Coalition

Lost Horse Crag in the Bitterroot Mountain remains at risk of being mined. This mining proposal has been deadlocked by an even vote of the Ravalli County Commission. Ravalli County Commissioner Kathleen Driscoll is the one abstainer in the currently tied vote (2 vs 2 out of 5 total commissioners) on whether to proceed on the Lost Horse Mining Proposal (slated to start Oct. 2007). Driscoll remains undecided while she waits for cost estimate numbers for mining road gravel at the old Lost Horse quarry versus other gravel pits throughout the county. For more background, see

The Bitterroot Climbers Coalition,, urges climbers to continue writing to Driscoll. Make it known that citizens and visitors to the Bitterroot Valley and Lost Horse Canyon do not want this issue to be determined by the price of gravel, but rather upon the preservation of the unique recreational and outdoor attributes of Lost Horse Canyon. This important deciding vote should not be cast dependant upon if money will be saved for gravel mining but instead on the long term impacts to the Canyon from an active gravel mining operation and how this proposed industrial site will negatively impact all recreational use and interests in the area. Also worth mentioning are the negative health and safety aspects of running such an operation on a narrow dirt road and the loss of property values for local residents.

Take action now! Write Kathleen Driscoll at the address below. Lost Horse is the best climbing, bouldering, and cragging area in Montana. Operation of this quarry for the next 10 years or more will effectively halt all access to the climbing and destroy a unique recreational area in the heart of the Bitterroot Mountains.

See Joe Josephson's website: for more information and to order advance copies of the Lost Horse Climbing guide, available in late September.

Write your letters to:
Attn: Kathleen Driscoll
Glenda Wiles, Administrative Assistant
Ravalli County Commissioners Office
215 S. 4th Street, Suite A
Hamilton, MT 59840

Consider the following points in your letter:
The climbing resources at Lost Horse are very valuable to climbers locally, regionally, and across the country. This is the best climbing area in the state.
Re-activation of the quarry will negatively impact the scenic nature of the area, produce noise, disrupt wildlife such as migrating herds, wolverine that migrate through canyon, and peregrine falcons (which nest on the cliff), create a bigger footprint scar in the area (2-3 times bigger and deeper) and basically make the area too dangerous or impossible for climbing.
The Forest Service proposal does not recognize or consider the unique recreational asset of Lost Horse, nor the hundreds of climbers, land owners, and other users in the area. They do not realize climbers and many other users enjoy Lost Horse every month of the year and grossly underestimate the safety and egress issues (access from an upper observation point).

See to view the Access Funds opposition letter.


Virginia Land Management Plans Update: Shenandoah and Great Falls

Shenandoah National Park is nearing completion of the final draft Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP) and Environmental Assessment (EA). This plan includes a Climbing Management Plan and will affect climbing areas such as Old Rag, Little Stony Man, and others.

The EA is being prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze potential issues and impacts to natural and cultural resources, values, and the human environment as well as identifying mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of those impacts. The final draft ROMP/Climbing Management Guidelines and EA will likely be available for 30 days starting in late September.

For additional information and to comment, see or Contact Thomson Ling for more details.

Great Falls Park
In September 2005, the National Park Service (NPS) released a draft General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement for Great Falls Park, Virginia. The draft Plan contained proposals with potentially serious implications for climbing at Great Falls, including cliff closures and required permits for climbing and anchor installation. These proposed restrictions are excessive considering the current level of impact that climbers have on the park. Recently, the NPS has indicated that the revised General Management Plan for Great Falls has been approved for printing. It is likely this will be available in October/November 2007.

For more information, see or contact Friends of Great Falls Chairman Simon Carr at; (301) 320 5035.


Cave Rock

On August 27, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a US Forest Service (USFS) ban on rock climbing at Lake Tahoe's Cave Rock in Nevada, rejecting arguments by the Access Fund that the ban enacted in early 2005 by the USFS is unconstitutional because it closes public lands for religious purposes. The Access Fund does not agree with the courts justification of this closure to climbing while all other usershikers, picnickers, site-seers, and highway usershave been permitted to continue to use Cave Rock. The Access Fund is carefully reviewing the courts opinion and options for short and long term action.

Cave Rock, NV

On August 27, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a US Forest Service (USFS) ban on rock climbing at Lake Tahoe's Cave Rock in Nevada, rejecting arguments by the Access Fund that the ban enacted in early 2005 by the USFS is unconstitutional because it closes public lands for religious purposes. The Access Fund does not agree with the courts justification of this closure to climbing while all other usershikers, picnickers, site-seers, and highway usershave been permitted to continue to use Cave Rock. The Access Fund is carefully reviewing the courts opinion and options for short and long term action.

Cleveland National Forest Access Threat Update, CA

By Jeff Brown, Executive Director Allied Climbers of San Diego

A proposal by the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) would deny well-established recreational climbing in order to create nesting habitat for non-threatened eagles and prairie falcons. These speculative preserves would be established where no golden eagles nest within close proximity or view of climbing activities, and where prairie falcons continue to nest successfully.

The Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD), in concert with the Access Fund, are working to preserve climbing access and work with the CNF on a reasonable solution. For more background on this issue see ACSDs formal statement of complaint can be found here: and Access Fund comments here: and

The ACSD invites all climbers to follow this important access threat created by the CNFs climbing closure proposals by visiting ACSDs website to access a timeline of the CNFs proposals and to understand why these measures are being opposed by the Access Fund and ACSD in their current form. In early September the CNF will release an Environmental Assessment for public review and comment. This is a National Forest issue with national precedent-setting potential, so please stay tuned for the Access Fund's and ACSD's evaluation of this anxiously awaited document.


Gunks Climbers Sign MOU with Mohonk Preserve

On August 13, following more than two years of presentations, meetings, and negotiations (with tons of assistance from the AF), the Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC) and Mohonk Preserve signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Rosendale Waterworks bouldering parcel.

The signing marks a significant step though several remain before access to the parcel can be realized. Jeff Powell, one of two boulderers who discovered the site, has volunteered for the Waterworks liaison position outlined in the MOU.

The GCC is also pleased to announce that our Adopt-A-Crag date this year will take place on Saturday, September 15, with a litter clean-up at Skytop. The historic crag saw a partial reopening this year by the Mohonk Mountain House to guided climbing of hotel guests.


New Land Exchange Proposal Introduced Into Congress for Oak Flat, AZ

In early August two bills were introduced into Congress that would transfer Oak FlatUS Forest Service land east of Superior, Arizonato Resolution Copper Company to develop a massive copper mine. The result of this land exchange would result in the loss of thousands of bouldering problems and roped sport climbs at the popular Oak Flat area. This issue is of longstanding importance to the Access Fund as it would result in the single largest loss of climbing resources ever. For more background, see the Friends of Queen Creeks website at and

The proposed law, introduced by US Senators Kyl and McCain in the Senate and US Representative Pastor in the House, now faces scrutiny by the relevant congressional committees that oversee public lands and federal land exchanges. At issue for climbers in the proposed Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2007 are the following provisions:

The permanent loss of bouldering and roped climbing at Oak Flat, although the Access Fund last year obtained a recreational use license to continue climbing at Queen Creek Canyon and Oak Flat up to five years following the land exchange if it passes. See

If the bill does become law the climbing sites at Oak Flat known as the Mine Area and Euro Dog Valley will be closed to public use immediately; however, the bill provides for continued public access to most of the Oak Flat area for two years after enactment.

The establishment of a new state park for climbing to replace whats lost at Oak Flat. This area is, unlike Oak Flat, primarily roped climbing, further from Phoenix, and will cost climbers an entry fee. A state law already authorizing the new state park, but the proposed 2-wheel drive access road remains a question mark in terms of construction and funding.

This land exchange must now overcome renewed opposition by local Apaches and citizens groups a new Congress generally more critical of land exchanges. The Access Fund will continue to work with Congress to ensure that the interests of climbers are represented in this proposed law.

For more information about the licensed climbing in Queen Creek Canyon and whats at stake for Oak Flat, contact


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 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!


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

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 and stay tuned to the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council 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 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, 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.

Current News:
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 or email

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 and the draft plan 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


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


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