Muir Valley Nature Preserve: Build It and Climbers Will Come,
By Doris Edwards, Friends of Muir Valley, Co-Chairperson
Muir Valley Nature Preserve in Kentuckys Red River Gorge area is 400 acres of privately owned land developed as a nature preserve and climbing venue. It is open to the public and has quickly grown in popularity, with over 10,000 visitors in 2007. To meet the demands of the ever-increasing number of climbers, the Friends of Muir Valley, a local, volunteer-based organization made up of over 300 active supporters, is working closely with the owners to continuously improve and maintain the infrastructure of Muir Valley.
Friends of Muir Valley would like to remind visitors that climbing on private land is a privilege. To help mitigate the impacts of the growing number of visitors, dogs are no longer allowed at the Preserve. Please leave your dog at home. Also, please practice Leave no Trace climbing ethics.
For more information on low-impact climbing practices, visit www.accessfund.org/boulderproject/coex.php. For more information on Friends of Muir Valley, visit www.friendsofmuirvalley.org/.
Queen Creek Coalition Holds Climber Meeting
On March 24, the newly-formed Queen Creek Coalition (members of the Friends of Queen Creek, Arizona Mountaineering Club, owners of Phoenix-area climbing gyms, and unaffiliated climbers) held a public meeting to provide the Arizona climbing community with an update on their efforts to advocate for climbing access in the Oak Flat/Queen Creek Canyon area. The Queen Creek Coalition was formed to give climbers and other recreational users a voice in the proposed Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act. The 2007 versions of this land exchange bill (S.1862 and H.B. 3301) were introduced into the 110th Congressional Session of Congress by Senator Kyl and Representative Pastor. The legislation would transfer significant climbing and bouldering to Resolution Copper Company.
This meeting was in conjunction with a regular meeting of the Arizona Mountaineering Club. About 50 climbers attended to learn more about the history of climbing in the area and the current status of the land exchange legislation.
For more background on this issue
Check back regularly with the Queen Creek Coalition for news and updates.
Two Access Lawsuits Decided: Yosemite National Park, CA
On February 21, 2008 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the National Park Service in the case of Terbush v. U.S.
Peter Terbush died from rock fall on Glacier Point Apron in 1999 and this lawsuit concerned whether the Park Service was negligent in failing to warn of the dangers present on the Apron. The government countered that they are immune from such lawsuits because Congress has given rangers discretion on when and where to warn the public of potential dangers. The case was further complicated by the fact that a wastewater treatment plant facility had allegedly been discharging large amounts of water from the top of the Apron prior to Terbushs death, potentially creating an unnatural hazardous condition.
As a policy matter, this case is of interest to climbers because if the Park Service had lost, climbing policies could have become much more restrictive in Yosemite and anywhere that the government allows public access to potentially hazardous locations. If the Park Service had been held responsible for the safety of park visitors, they would have likely reduced access opportunities, especially to potentially dangerous spots, such as climbing areas.
The Terbush lawsuit represents an unusual case, however, because the question remains whether the hazards on the Apron that killed Peter Terbush were natural or whether they were caused by a mismanaged wastewater treatment plant that sent a large volume of water down onto a popular climbing area. The record from the District Court did not have enough information for the Appeals Court to decide whether the Park Service was negligent in their wastewater treatment plant facility, and, accordingly, the Appeals Court has ordered the case back to the District Court to decide this issue. However, at this point it seems unlikely that the Terbush case will affect climbing management policy in Yosemite or elsewhere.
On March 27, 2008 in Friends of Yosemite Valley v. Kempthorne, another lawsuit potentially involving public access in Yosemite, the court ruled against the Park Service. In this case the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district judges decision in 2006 that Yosemite National Park failed to adequately address limits on public use near the Merced Wild and Scenic River.
In May of 2007, the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and several other environmental organizations including the Yosemite Fund, Friends of the River, National Parks Conservation Association, California Trout and The Wilderness Society, filed briefs supporting the Park Services planning methodology for the Merced River. This broad coalition opposed the strict, numeric limits on visitors in Yosemite that were supported by plaintiffs and the district court. The Access Fund maintains that this approach is impractical and unfair and that adaptive carrying capacity management provisions are a better approach to protecting the environment and visitor access. See here for more background on this issue: www.accessfund.org/display/page/PR/64
The Ninth Circuit, however, sided with the district court and ordered Yosemite National Park to develop a new management plan that sets numeric limits for visitors in Yosemite by September 2009. This recent court decision also blocks several ongoing restoration and rehabilitation projects in the Valley. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuits ruling could result in restricted access (camping, climbing, or even hiking) 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.
Great Falls Management Plan Reflects Climbers Concerns, VA
By Simon Carr, Friends of Great Falls
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 the closure of cliffs, permits to climb, and permanent anchors. Great Falls is a top-roping area just outside Washington DC and contains over 250 routes up to 5.12.
In response to the draft Plan, climbers in the VA/MD/DC area formed Friends of Great Falls (www.friendsofgreatfalls.com) to mobilize climbers to comment on the draft plan. There were approximately 270 comments, the majority of these from climbers. Almost universally, the submissions from climbers were opposed to the NPS proposals.
In December 2007, a final Plan was released by the NPS. The revised plan is a significant improvement over the original draft, specifically the sections affecting recreational climbing. The NPS has clearly taken into consideration many of the suggestions made by climbers during the public comment process. Generally, the discussion of the potential environmental impacts from recreational climbing is reasonable. Similarly, the discussion of the potential actions that might be proposed in relation to mitigating possible environmental impacts, or to assist in meeting NPS management objectives, is fair and neutral.
However, the revised plan contains very little in terms of detailed proposals. In the final plan, the NPS has proposed the preparation of a specific Climbing Management Plan and has indicated that this will involve local climbing groups. There is no timetable at present for preparing a Climbing Management Plan.
Madrone Wall Needs Your Advocacy Help, OR
By Keith K. Daellenbach, Madrone Wall Preservation Committee
The Madrone Wall, a 44-acre forested area featuring bluffs and wildflowers, in Clackamas County, Oregon has been closed to public access since 1997. The county had planned to use the area as a rock quarry, but outdoor enthusiasts led by the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee protested, and the county determined a quarry was financially unfeasible.
In March 2005, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners considered reopening the Madrone Wall as a park, and two years later, the county's Parks Advisory Board recommended creating a master plan for the Madrone Wall area.
Now, more than two years later, the County is finally sending out the requests for proposals to start the parks master planning. Next, according to current County Park plans, the public is expected to wait a minimum of three to four more years while nothing is actually done with the parks master planno funding to create this primitive park, no implementation of a park master plan, no park.
The Madrone Wall Preservation Committee asks you to, once again, make your advocacy known to the county and request necessary capital improvement funding for the 2008-2009 fiscal year so a park can finally be opened in a timely fashion.
Please contact the following County officials. Request they allocate necessary capital improvement funding for the coming fiscal year.
1. Clackamas Board of County Commissioners: 2051 Kaen Road, Oregon City, Oregon 97045, 503/655-8581; email Lynn Peterson, Bill Kennemer,Martha Schrader
2. Dan Zinzer: Director, Department of Business and Community Services (Parks Dept.), Clackamas County, 9101 S.E. Sunnybrook Blvd, Clackamas, OR 97015, 503/353-4661, email Dan Zinzer
3. Rob Smoot: Chair, Clackamas County Parks Advisory Board, c/o Dan Zinzer
New Coalition to Address Climbing Issues in Central Arizona
From the Queen Creek Coalition
Central Arizona climbers have formed a new climbers advocacy groupthe Queen Creek Coalition (QCC)to address issues related to 1) the proposed new mining activity near Oak Flat, 2) ongoing associated legislative activity that would transfer public land to Resolution Copper Company, and 3) possible new highway construction impacts. www.queencreekcoalition.com.
For the third time in as many years, Resolution Copper Company (Resolution) has introduced federal legislation, dubbed the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, that would privatize Oak Flat, a public recreation area where mining has been prohibited under federal law since 1955. The company has been exploring a deep deposit of copper ore beneath this area for over four years and is pursuing ownership of Oak Flat to create a new mine. Resolution is owned by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, two of the worlds largest multi-national mining companies.
The proposed land exchange could result in the loss of much of the vast climbing resources of Queen Creek Canyon and the region, says Fred AmRhein, spokesperson for the Coalition, whose members include representatives from the Arizona Mountaineering Club, Friends of Queen Creek, the proprietors of several Phoenix-area climbing gyms, climbing guide book authors, local retail outdoor equipment outlet proprietors, and other local citizens with strong ties to the Queen Creek Region. The coalition was formed primarily to address the future of climbing, hiking, and camping in the area. "Our intention is to be inclusive, to bring the community together, and to actively and fairly pursue solutions that allow coexistence of community, commerce, and conservation, says AmRhein.
The Queen Creek Coalition website (www.queencreekcoalition.com) is now active and more information will be added soon. Feel free to contact the QCC with any questions or suggestions. At the following upcoming public meetings the Queen Creek Coalition will be introduced, give updates, and answer questions:
Monday, March 24, 2008 at 7 pm during the Arizona Mountaineering Club March membership meeting (at the Phoenix Country Day School 3901 East Stanford Drive in Paradise Valley)
Saturday, March 29, 2008 after climbing at the Phlapper Phest at the Oak Flat bouldering area (follow signs to the site south of the campground). For directions see www.queencreekcoalition.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.