Access Fund Urges Appellate Court to Overturn Climbing Ban at Cave Rock, NV
By Paul Minault, Access Fund N. California Regional Coordinator
On February 15th, attorneys for the Access Fund appeared before a three-judge panel of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to urge the court to overturn the Forest Services ban on climbing access at Cave Rock on Lake Tahoes Nevada shore.
In oral argument, Access Fund attorney Jeremy Kernodle of the Dallas law firm of Haynes and Boone argued, among other things, that climbers were the only recreational group subject to the ban, while hikers, picnickers, boaters and fisherman were free to use the rock and the surrounding area as they wished.
The Forest Service issued a management plan for Cave Rock in 2003 prohibiting climbing on the formation. Following an unsuccessful administrative appeal to the Forest Service, the Access Fund filed suit in federal court in Nevada. In 2005, the District Court upheld the ban on the grounds that, in addition to protecting Washoe spiritual practices, the ban also had secular purposes. The court of appeals will issue its decision sometime later this year.
Climbing Access to Allen Spur, MT
By Tom Kalakay
In 2004, after many years of closure, the Allen Spur climbing crag was reopened. The reestablishment of climbing at Allen Spur came after much hard work by SMCC members who negotiated an easement with landowners, surveyed the trail location and constructed trails to the crag. Now, less than 3 years later, closure of the crag is once again possible.
Recently, a few careless individuals have been accessing the crag via routes other than those built and maintained by SMCC. In other words, they are trespassing in order to make their hike shorter. This is a strict violation of the easement agreement SMCC has with landowner Hilda Harper. If this activity continues, landowners will have little choice but to once again close the crags.
The climbing access at Allen Spur is simple.
1) Park only at Carter Bridge fishing access. For the month of April, 2007 the Montana FWP will be doing construction to expand the Carter Bridge access site. Please do not block construction machinery during that time.
2) After parking, walk north on the gravel road marked 'private drive'. Continue walking until you pass a small culvert. Turn right, after the culvert, onto a marked climbers trail. Follow the trail along a fence line, cross a gravel road and continue uphill past several switch-backs. You will then be on BLM land where the trail turns south and continues to the climbing areas.
Despite rumors to the contrary, this is the only legal climbing access to Allen Spur crags. DO NOT drive on the gravel road beyond Carter Bridge access. DO NOT access the crags by 'shortcutting' straight to the crags from East River Road. Both of these routes require trespassing across private land. Those who choose to trespass run the risk of arrest and may also cause landowners to close the area once and for all.
If you see or know of someone who insists on violating SMCC's easement agreement you should tell them to stop, or report them to authorities.
A map showing access at Allen Spur in detail is available for download at:cobalt.rocky.edu/~geology/allen_spur_access.pdf
Farley Ledge, MA
By Jeff Squire, Regional Coordinator and President Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition
The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition is in the early stages of acquiring a 9-acre property abutting Farley Ledge, arguably the best piece of rock between Rumney and the Gunks. The purchase would be for the creation of a permanent parking lot, approach trail, protection of natural buffers, and to prevent potential development close to the cliffs.
Farley Ledge is largely owned by Northeast Utilities, but their site license contains a recreational stipulation requiring that they provide recreational opportunities. As a result, access issues have always been over the parking and approach trails.
Farley has already been closed four times due to growing crowds and abutting landowner concerns. The WMCCs goal is to put an end to this cycle permanently through the acquisition of this property. The goal is to raise $75,000 by spring when the current landowner would like to close.
We will need everyones support for this project. This is likely the best thing to happen for western Mass climbing. Visit our website to learn more or to donate www.westernmacc.com. It would be a shame to loose this opportunity and be faced with new homes less than 100 from the cliff!
Hope for Access, Torrent Falls, KY
Pending final approval of the loan and closing, Torrent Falls has been purchased by Bob Matheny (Dr. Bob) with the assistance of Matt and Amy Tackett. Mark Meyers and his family will continue to live at Torrent and the area is not currently open for climbing. Details regarding long term access for climbing are being worked out and will be announced when available.
Hueco Trip Report, TX
By Kristo Torgersen
In February 2007, the Access Fund traveled to Hueco Tanks for the annual Hueco Rock Rodeo to advocate the Access Funds position and strategy and meet with park staff regarding the current status of access and potential threats to climbing at Hueco Tanks.
News of a potential transfer of Hueco Tanks from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) surfaced in December 2006. In early February a letter from THC to the Access Fund stated that Hueco Tanks had been removed from the list for transfer. However, as the premiere cultural resource in the state, it is possible that this issue will resurface.
Additionally, there is a bill up for approval in the Texas Legislature which would provide a much needed increase of funding for Texas state and local parks (including Reimers Ranch).
During the visit to Hueco Tanks, the Access Fund met with Hueco Tanks Park Superintendent and Complex Manger to discuss strategy in support of TPWDs management and offer the resources of the Access Fund to achieve the common interests of the park and climbers. The Access Fund circulated a petition at the Hueco Rock Rodeo to educate climbers on the issue and gain signatures from Texan residents supporting the management of Hueco by TPWD and the allocation of additional funding to Texas State Parks.
During the third week of March the Access Fund was back in Texas to conduct an Austin-based lobbying initiative that included Texas climbers and other allied interest groups in meeting with Texas legislators and public land agency officials to preserve the financial security of Texas State Parks and Hueco Tanks in particular.
Hyalite Canyon Ice Climbing Update, MT
In February the Southwestern Montana Climbers Coalition http://montanaclimbers.org appealed a USFS decision in the Gallatin Travel Management Plan that significantly restricts ice climbing access in Hyalite Canyon.
The USFS decision would install a gate in lower Hyalite Canyon effectively turning what were day climbs into at least an overnight endeavor that most climbers wouldnt do, especially those without snowmobiles. The SMCC appeal, which seeks to eliminate the gate proposal and identify a long terms access solution, is supported by the backcountry skiing community, statewide politicians and community leaders, the motorized community, and basically every other interest group. Access Fund assistance in support of the SMCC included reviewing their USFS appeal, and assistance with lobbying strategy and Congressional meetings in both Montana and Washington, DC.
A recent resolution conference between the SMCC and USFS offered a 4-point proposal: (1) prioritize plowing on the Hyalite Road; (2) work with ice climbers and other groups to determine standards for when it would be appropriate to gate the road; (3) re-route a snowmobile alternative for accessing backcountry ice routes; and (4) hold off implementing the part of the travel plan affecting ice climbers until #2 and #3 are in place. As a result of this compromise proposal the SMCC agreed to not file for judicial review as long as the good faith conversations and negotiations are moving forward between climbers and the USFS. The SMCC will not, however, withdraw its appeal prior to an acceptable settlement.
Oregon Bill to Require Emergency Locator Beacons on Mt. Hood, OR
An Oregon bill that proposes mandating climbers on Mt. Hood to carry emergency locator beacons is poised to pass that states legislature.
We told you in our last E-News that the Access Fund opposes the mandatory use of these simple one way devices despite uninformed media pundits calling this position irresponsible. See the Access Fund testimony on the bill www.accessfund.org/pdf/HR_2509_Testimony.pdf. Find more background at www.accessfund.org/pubs/en/e-news77.htm - _Oregon_Beacon_Bill . Every mountain rescue unit in the state of Oregon opposes House Bill 2509 and the Mountain Rescue Association, which represents over 90 mountain rescue teams throughout North America, also opposes the bill. Steve Rollins with Portland Mountain Rescue, who has performed the rescues on Mt. Hood these last few months, also agrees with the Access Fund stance. Rollins says the legislature can't mandate good judgment. In an urban environment, we do everything we can do to make the world safe around us. And that is one of the beauties of the backcountry that it is untouched and it really is you and nature. I'm a strong believer that the laws of nature are going to be far more powerful than any law our legislators come up with. And if we can educate people to respect the laws of nature more, that will go a lot further than any law that we come up with.
The bill, while laudable in light of recent high profile rescue and recovery efforts that were featured in mainstream media of climbers on Oregons Mt. Hood, is a knee-jerk reaction and will not prevent climbers from being injured or killed in climbing related accidents. The bill simply adds a layer of red-tape to climbing a mountain and at worst could actually give less experienced climbers a sense of false security when presented with conditions out of their control (such as the fast-moving weather systems of the Pacific Northwest).
Despite climbing groups and professional rescuers coming out against the bill, in late March the Oregon House of Representatives voted 33-22 to require the locator devices for all Mt. Hood climbers traveling above 10,000 feet. The next step is for the bill to be assigned to a state Senate committee and then brought to that chamber for a vote. Oregon would become the first state to require such equipment if the bill is approved by the Senate and signed by the governor. It would go into effect as early as Jan. 1 2008.
Peter's Kill Season Pass, NY
By Christopher Spatz
In response to a Peters Kill climbing survey at Minnewaska State Park Preserve conducted by GCC Director-at-Large Bob OBrien (Minnewaskas Invasive Species Specialist), the park has recognized requests by frequent visitors of the climbing community for a season pass.
Eric Humphries, Minnewaskas new Superintendent, has issued the 2007 policy as follows: The Peters Kill Season Pass is $65 per individual and is valid for climbing/bouldering. The pass is valid from April 1st to December 15th, weather permitting. The Peters Kill Season Pass does not waive vehicle use fees at the other park entrances, and is valid only at the Peters Kill Area. Pass holder must present valid photo ID at check in. The Season Pass is Not Transferable and Non-Refundable. Pass Holder Must follow all park rules and regulations. Pass Holder will only be allowed entry if the climbing area has not reached the maximum number of permitted climbing/bouldering permits. The weekday/weekend day climbing pass remains $7.
For further information please contact the Minnewaska Park Preserve Office at 845-255-0752.
New also to this years Peters Kill climbing policy: climbers will be requested to check-out upon departure. Previously, once the maximum number of climbing visitors was reached, no further passes were issued. Check-out monitoring will allow the Peters Kill office to sustain the maximum number of climbing visitors during peak usage: 70 climbers and 30 boulderers.
The GCC wishes to thank Bob OBrien, Superintendent Humphries, and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission for accommodating the climbing communitys request for a season pass at Peters Kill.
Pinnacles National Monument Seeks Public Input for New General Management Plan, CA
The National Park Service at Pinnacles National Monument south of San Francisco, CA has begun revising its general management plan (GMP) which will serve as a blueprint to guide the park over the next twenty years.
This new master planning document for Pinnacles, home to hundreds of rock climbs, will identify important park issues, visitor opportunities, and program objectives many of which could affect current climbing policies www.pinnacles.org/climbing_info/index.htm. For more information on the GMP process, see www.nps.gov/pinn/parkmgmt/planning.htm
A draft GMP is expected for public review in fall 2008 with a final GMP scheduled for completion in 2009.
Raptor Closure at Black Cliffs, ID
By Brian Fedigan
The Boise Climbers Alliance has closed sections of the Black Cliffs for raptor nesting. Current closures include the back of Car Body Canyon, Highway Face (all routes), Scary Canyon (all routes), the Iron Man Traverse and the Nixon Head. The route closures will last until late June. For detailed information on exact route closures go to www.boiseclimbs.com.
We are currently working with the Idaho Fish and Game to see what walls have current nesting activity. If an area is determined not to have a nesting raptor it will be opened immediately. This is a voluntary closure, but the cooperation of local climbers has enabled us to maintain free of federal and state imposed restrictions. Thanks so much for your cooperation.
RRGCC Fundraising Challenge, KY
By RRGC BOD
The Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition has had an anonymous benefactor volunteer to provide up to $5,000 in matching funds towards the 2007 Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve payment due on July 15, 2007. To help get our fundraising efforts underway and ensure we make our goals for 2007 they have agreed to the following challenge setup to add some fun and excitement to fundraising effort:
This challenge will run for three more monthsApril, May, & June 2007and the challenge amount for each month will be $1,250.
For each month if $1,250 is raised by the end of the month then that amount will be matched with $1,250 from the benefactor.
The postmark date will be considered the contribution date for mailed payments.
Whoever contributes the largest amount each month or those responsible for the largest fundraising event, whichever is greater, will be recognized as the "RRGCC Fundraiser of the Month. They will receive a gift package of appreciation consisting a climbing related DVD and a t-shirt at a minimum.
We are working on getting some other goodies to put in these packages and will let everyone know what they are as the packages are put together.
Home gym fundraisers were very effective last year as well as climber funded slideshows. Use your imagination, get your partners together and have some fun. Let's use this generous offer to help us continue to secure the largest, and one of the best, climber owned climbing area in the US.
For donation information see: www.rrgcc.org/membership.php
Thanks For Your Support!
Ship Rock Closure, NC
Area closure in effect: all access above the rock climb anguish of captain bligh is prohibited. The Boone Climbers Coalition is working in cooperation with the National Park Service to notify climbers of a closure at Ship Rock on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
ALL CLIMBERS, PLEASE NOTE trail, hiking, descent or ascent access above the routes Anguish of Captain Bligh and Harpoon is strictly prohibited. The anchors for the routes Anguish of Captain Bligh and Harpoon should only be approached by lead climbing either route. If your party plans to top rope either of these routes, one or the other must be lead. Top access to this set of anchors is strictly prohibited.
RAPPEL DESCENTS REQUIRED FOR ROCKCLIMBING AT SHIPROCK: all climbers must use existing rappel stations for descent. Rappel stations are located atop the routes: Boardwalk (for main section of cliff) and Edge of a Dream (for upper tier routes).
These closures will be posted with permanent signage soon if not currently. The BCC and the National Park Service work towards the common goals of protecting and preserving our park lands and providing opportunities to enhance responsible use of our climbing resources. So, in cooperation with the BCC, the National Park Service will be installing a Kiosk for climbers at Ship Rock. The Kiosk will contain information on rules and restrictions, closures, and safety info such as locations of rappel stations to descend the cliff.
Williamson Rock, CA Update
By Troy Mayr
The USFS is currently in the process of preparing a scoping letter. Once the scoping letter is released, this marks the start of the NEPA process for the Williamson Rock and vicinity.
The scoping letter prompts public comment and sets the parameters for what the USFS will consider. Positive and detailed comments from the climbing community are encouraged. Please visit www.williamsonrock.org and join our mailing list (if you haven't already).
When more details are made available to FoWR we will send out an e-mail to all of our mailing list members.
Thanks for your support!
Farley Ledge, MA
By Jeff Squire, Access Fund Regional Coordinator and President, WMCC
Since the early December, the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has been actively raising money to secure a 9-acre parcel of land at the base of Farley Ledge. Farley Ledge represents a unique and unspoiled natural outdoor recreation area in Erving, Massachusetts and represents a primary rock-climbing destination in New England. The area also includes one of the most impressive sections of the nationally recognized Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and valuable state identified wildlife habitat.
This preservation project marks the climax of a six year effort on behalf of the WMCC to secure access to Farley Ledge. A Purchase and Sale Agreement has been signed for the property and the WMCC fully intends on moving ahead.
The local community has rallied to donate over $22,000 to this project so far and we have gained the support of local towns, land trusts, state agencies, and area officials. A closing date is scheduled for April 1st and we desperately need to close the gap to secure this important piece of property.
Fundraisers planned for upcoming months include area visits from Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell (March 2-4), Nick and Heather Sagar (March 2-4) and John Bragg (April 7).
This is a project that will significantly affect climbing in Massachusetts and southern New England and it needs everyones support. Donations are being accepted through the WMCC website www.westernmacc.com or the old fashioned way. Above all else, help spread the word about this effort so that we might capture the attention of those willing to help.
Guided Climbing Approved at Sky Top, NY
By Christopher Spatz, Gunks Climbers Coalition and Access Fund RC
Starting April 1, 2007, overnight guests of the Mohonk Mountain House will have the opportunity to climb at Sky Top with an approved guide. Guiding costs are in addition to hotel accommodations. Unescorted guests, day guests, and the public are not permitted to rock climb at Sky Top at this time.
This agreement is the result of several years of negotiations between former Access Fund Board member Russ Clune, Access Fund Community Partner Alpine Endeavors www.alpineendeavors.com and the Mohonk Mountain House www.mohonk.com. The facts sheet on their arrangement is also available on the GCCs website: www.gunksclimbers.org and at www.mohonkmountainguides.com
Sky Top has been closed to climbers since the mid 1990s. Historically, it is one of the most significant crags on the continent. Sky Tops sublime setting is home to one of the earliest routes in the Shawangunks, Fritz Weissners 1935 Gargoyle, moderate classics like Grey Face, Pilgrims Progress, and Sound & Fury, as well as Trad testpieces that advanced North American rock climbing standards, Foops and Supercrack.
Indian Creek Update, UT
By Emma Medara, Friends of Indian Creek
The BLM has installed a toilet at the Beef Basin turnoff. This is a great addition to our human waste management program. While it is only one toilet, and is not there to replace the use of the human waste bags, it gives relief to the large number of waste bags that are being used through the successful program.
Please continue to use the waste bags when it is not convenient to use the toilet (at the crag or at the campsite or anywhere where you do not have access to the toilet).
Donations for waste bags last season were great, and together with money raised from t-shirt sales, slide shows and financial contributions from manufacturers, we have just ordered 2500 more waste bags to keep the dispensers stocked for the spring season. However, please don't always rely on these dispensers being fully stocked. Please be prepared by bringing in your own waste bags.
There is information on www.friendsofindiancreek.org about alternative backcountry toilet systems. It is our intention to phase out supplying human waste bags in the future, but this will not mean that everybody can go back to digging holes. We will all have to be responsible for ourselves and provide our own systems of packing out.
The future of Indian Creek, whether there are human waste bags or not, will still depend on climbers managing themselves and the area responsibly and packing out human waste.
Everyone is doing a great job, and the donations are a huge help. Please keep helping us by not poohing in holes, keeping to the designated camping areas, and keeping those donations coming in.
Go to the website www.friendsofindiancreek.org for updated information.
Nelson Rocks Preserve Update, WV
By Ocean Eiler, Access Fund Regional Coordinator
January 27th of 2007, In response to the recent real estate listing of Nelson Rocks Preserve, WV, climbers in the Washington DC area held a round table. Nelson Rocks Preserve is a privately owned outdoor recreation area, featuring many climbing routes, via ferrata climbing, hiking, and camping.
The round table discussions lead by Access Fund Regional Coordinator Thomson Ling discussed the options for preserving climbing access at Nelson Rocks Preserve and helped to facilitate the ground work for positive action.
With roughly 20 people in attendance, the discussions were inquisitive and demonstrated climbers motivation to preserve access to Nelson Rocks.
For information please contact Thomson Ling or Ocean Eiler at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Oregon Beacon Bill, OR
The Oregon bill that proposes mandating climbers on Mt Hood to carry emergency locator beacons has been all over the national media for the past few weeks.
The Access Funds stance opposes the mandatory use of these simple one way devices and interestingly enough this has become major fodder for everything from print media to radio talk shows to major TV network shows.
Climbers are a close-knit community and we never want to see one of our own in a rescue or recovery situation but this bill wont necessarily make the mountain safer. Even if the beacons make it easier to locate parties, what if theres a three-day storm? Climbing is always about calculated risk and nothing can replace experience. Says Access Fund Executive Director, Steve Matous.
Steve Rollins with Portland Mountain Rescue who has performed the rescues on Mt. Hood these last few months agrees with the Access Fund stance. Rollins says the legislature can't mandate good judgment. "In an urban environment, we do everything we can do to make the world safe around us. And that is one of the beauties of the backcountry, that it is untouched and it really is you and nature. I'm a strong believer that the laws of nature are going to be far more powerful than any law our legislators come up with. And if we can educate people to respect the laws of nature more, that will go a lot further than any law that we come up with."
The bill, while laudable in light of recent high profile rescue and recovery efforts that were featured in mainstream media of climbers on Oregons Mt. Hood, is a knee-jerk reaction and will not prevent climbers from being injured or killed in climbing related accidents. The bill simply adds a layer of red-tape to climbing a mountain and at worst could actually give less experienced climbers a sense of false security when presented with conditions out of their control (such as the fast-moving weather systems of the Pacific Northwest). See the Access Fund testimony on the bill www.accessfund.org/pdf/HR_2509_Testimony.pdf
For more of the national media attention, visit these links: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7770277&sc=ema
http://thenewshole.msnbc.msn.com/articles/64101.aspx (by all accounts a curious honor for the Access Fund)
Proposed Seasonal Closures to Protect Nesting Raptors, CA
By Kirsten Winter, Cleveland National Forest Biologist
*This is a new scoping effort, and a new comment period has been started. Comments will be accepted until April 16, 2007. For letter writing tips, please visit: www.accessfund.org/display/page/AA/54
The Cleveland National Forest (Cleveland NF) is proposing seasonal area closures to protect golden eagles and prairie falcons at three locations.
The Cleveland NF is initiating the scoping process under the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970. Scoping is the means by which the Forest Service identifies the important environmental and social issues to be considered in developing and analyzing a proposed action. Your site-specific comments are requested to help us identify relevant issues, evaluate the proposed action, and develop possible alternatives.
The proposed seasonal area closures were initially proposed for NEPA analysis under a categorical exclusion, as summarized in a scoping letter dated December 11, 2006, and sent to local user groups. Based on public input and a further refinement of the proposed action, the Cleveland NF has chosen to undertake an environmental assessment to analyze the proposed action. The public will have 30 days to provide responses to this scoping letter. The Cleveland NF will then prepare an environmental assessment.
The public will have 30 days to comment on the analysis contained in the environmental assessment. The proposed action may be modified based on scientifically and legally sound information that is received during any of the comment periods. After considering the comments received on the environmental assessment, the Cleveland NF will make a decision.
All comments submitted in response to the December 11, 2006 scoping letter will be retained in the project file for the current proposed action. These comments will be considered during analysis and do not need to be resubmitted.
For more detailed information, including the scoping letter and maps describing the proposed action, please see the Cleveland National Forest website at www.fs.fed.us/r5/cleveland/projects/projects/seasonal-closures/index.shtml
Sending The Business in Red River Gorge, KY
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
As of Mid-February 2007 almost $16,000 had been collected towards the annual mortgage payment for the RRGCC owned Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) in Lee County, Kentucky. With the annual payment of $29,393 due on July 15, the RRGCC is continuing to ramp up its efforts to secure this purchase (For donation info see: www.rrgcc.org/membership.php.
The PMRP, with over 700-acres of land, is home to well over 300 routes with new lines being discovered and developed weekly. At the end of 2006, the first 5.14c in Red River Gorge was established when Mike Doyle redpointed Lucifer at the Purgatory area of the PMRP.
Equally important, the US Forest Service has stepped up the pace of the Red River Gorge Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) workshops. Currently on Step 6 of the nine-step process, participation by local climbers is key to maintaining climbing access on Federally owned land in the Gorge. Now meeting more than once a month, workshop participants are presently working to identify alternative opportunity zone allocations. At the heart of these meetings is an effort to find a solution that works for all stakeholders, the main options being: 1) emphasis on resource protection; 2) balance between resource protection and recreation; 3) emphasis on recreation and tourism; and 4) no action.
Finally the RRGCC has scheduled two Adopt-A-Crag Day events for 2007. The first event will be held in conjunction with the Red River Reunion being held at Miguels Pizza & Rock Climbing in Slade, KY on April 21, 2007. In keeping with the spirit of Earth Day, this Adopt-A-Crag Day will have a Gorge-wide Trash Clean-up and Scavenging Contest. Contestants will present their most interesting pieces of trash to be judged by the crowd that evening at Miguels.
Also, this year the 3rd Annual John Bronaugh & Alex Yeakley Adopt-A-Crag Day will be held on August 4, 2007 at the PMRP. This event is devoted to developing new routes and supporting trail development. Held since 2005, this day honors the legacy of the late John Bronaugh and the passion for climbing that he shared with his late son Alex Yeakley.