Southeastern Climbers Coalition pays off Boat Rock Mortgage ahead of Schedule, GA
By Chad Wiykle, Triple Crown Organizer
We wanted to share details on the finale of The Triple Crown Bouldering Series--by many accounts the Stone Fort/Little Rock City Competition was one of the best outdoor bouldering events ever! We actually kicked-off the weekend at Rock/Creek Outfitters on Friday December 1st at 7:30pm with a fantastic slideshow/movie presentation and poster signing delivered by Access Fund ambassador and Board member Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden. We had a great turnout for this presentation with over 150 people in attendance.
As for comp day, the weather was absolutely perfect--cobalt blue skies and temperatures in the low 50s made for ideal climbing conditions. Over 450 climbers and bouldering enthusiasts from thirty states and two countries were present at this competition, and over 1,200 participants were in attendance throughout the entire series.
The goal for this years series was to raise enough money for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition to gain permanent access and ownership of Boat Rock a unique granite boulderfield and green space located inside the metro of Atlanta, Ga. When we officially began the series in October, over $11,000 remained on the note for Boat Rock. Through the efforts of this event, our sponsors, and donations from climbers attending this series, we have achieved this goal.
Tollhouse Rock, CA
By Patrick Paul, Southern Sierra Climbers, Association
In recent months, a new landowner has put up a gate at the intersection of Tollhouse road and the unpaved access road which has been the traditional way to the top of Tollhouse Rock for climbers. Tollhouse features dozens of one to four pitch free climbs and has been a popular winter climbing area for locals from Fresno, Bakersfield and the greater Southern California area for decades and sits on public land.
Prior to installing the gate, the landowner had verbally accosted some climbers, threatened to have people arrested, or tried to intimidate climbers in other ways. The access road has been used for years by climbers, four-wheelers, hang-gliders, hunters, and youthful revelers from the nearby communities of Prather and Tollhouse. The landowner has complained that his guests' cars have been vandalized, people have been firing shotguns and rifles near his home, and that a great deal of trash has been strewn in the area.
Tollhouse Rock is on Forest Service land and the F.S. claims that only a small portion of the road is privately owned. However, at this time it is unclear whether the landowner has a legal right to block the road or whether the Forest Service can legally compel him to keep it open. At least two gates have been erected and then torn out by persons unknown. Climbers are advised to use the longer power line road that lies directly west of the private road until either legalities can be ascertained, or the landowner can be reasoned with and an agreement met.
Washington Climbers Coalition
By Jonah Harrison, Access Fund Regional Coordinator
The Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC), an Access Fund Affiliate, Reiter Trail Watch and state land managers have improved safety from objective hazards in Index, Washington. Reiter Trail Watch is a not for profit group of volunteers working to preserve, protect, increase awareness and maintain accessibility for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Index is a popular climbing area outside of Seattle, with hundreds of steep granite sport and traditional routes up to Grade IV in length. The area around Index is also very popular with off-road vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts. ORVs allow access to the top of the Upper Town Wall, a large wall perched on the mountainside outside the town of Index. In recent years, various objects have been thrown from the top (from beer bottles to car fenders) and there has been many close calls with climbers narrowly avoiding being hit.
Washington State Parks put up several signs at the top of the wall, warning of the danger to climbers below and threatening prosecution of those who throw objects off the wall, but these measures have proved ineffective.
During the past summer, Reiter Trail Watch and Washington State Parks devised a road termination plan involving placing a barricade that would prevent motorized access to the top of the wall. Recently, with a generous donation from the Washington Climbers Coalition, the Reiter Trail Watch installed a sturdy, permanent barrier in late October that will keep ORVs from accessing the top of the cliff. This reduces the risk that anyone will be able to drive to the top of the wall and throw objects down on climbers, and is a great example of meeting goals through cooperation between local recreation groups and government land managers.
Wisconsin Outdoor Access Update, WI
By Nick Rhoads, President
In 2007 WOA is looking to catalogue and define usage at all Wisconsin climbing areas. If you have any information about usage issues at a crag near you please send all info to Nick Rhoads at firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest News from NEVCA, VT
By Matthew Elliott, President
In time for the beginning of the ice climbing season, Northeastern Vermont Climber's Alliance has stocked the rescue cache near the south end of the ice routes on Mt. Pisgah. A second cache has been constructed, and will be installed in the Last Gentleman Ampitheater on December 16. Each cache contains a rescue backboard/sled and basic first aid supplies.
Funding for the project was provided by generous donations to an online fundraiser organized by Access Fund Regional Coordinator Richard Doucette; NEVCA volunteers built and installed the shelters, and will maintain them.
NEVCA would like to extend our thanks to everyone involved in the project, and wish a safe and happy ice climbing season to all!
Call for Applications to the ACE Board of Directors, CO
Action Committee for Eldorado (ACE ) has openings on its board of directors. Directors are elected to three-year terms. ACE is an Access Fund Affiliate non-profit organization dedicated to representing climbers' interests in Eldorado Canyon State Park and preserving the opportunity to climb and the diversity of the climbing experience in Eldorado. ACE supports conserving the natural resources and promoting responsible recreational use and land management in ECSP. Since its founding in 1993, ACE has raised and donated over $180,000 to Eldorado Canyon State Park in support of climbers' interests (especially the construction of climber access trails).
Board members are responsible for organization of Celebrate Eldorado and other climbing events that raise funds to promote ACE 's goals and for ECSP.
For more information, see the ACE website: www.aceeldo.org. The application form is available on-line at: www.aceeldo.org/support/ace_board_app.ph. The application deadline is December 1, 2006.
Thank you for your support of ACE and Eldorado State Park!
The ACE Board:
Action Committee For Eldorado
Climbers Proposal for LAC Accepted, KY
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
At the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) Workshop held on October 24, 2006 in Winchester, KY climbers presented a proposal regarding standards for climbing in Red River Gorge. This proposal was accepted by the overall LAC group with no changes except for the correction of a couple of typographical errors. At the beginning of the meeting RRGCC Board member Shannon Stuart-Smith made a presentation first about climbing in general and then specifically about climbing in Red River Gorge. This was followed with Bill Strachan presenting the LAC standards developed by climbers.
The proposal developed by climbers limits the amount of impact that can occur both at a climbsite and at a climbing-area before a management action must be considered by the Forest Service. A climb-site is a staging area at the base of one or more climbing routes and a climbing area is a grouping of closely spaced climb-sites. A key aspect to this proposal is the concept that the Forest Service will look at approving new climbing on an area basis instead of the current route by route basis. The proposal also allows for the installation of new bolts in areas approved by the Forest Service except for areas located in a Pristine zone. For areas that are located in a Pristine zone, existing bolts will be allowed to remain or be replaced. All existing climbing areas within the scope of LAC are considered to be approved pending the completion of surveys for cultural and biological resources. Any new areas proposed by climbers will have to be surveyed before climbing development can proceed.
Many thanks go to everyone involved in the climbers working group that put together the proposed LAC standards for climbing. This working group consisted of current RRGCC Board members Shannon Stuart-Smith and Dwight Bradburn; past RRGCC President, Jim Holzman; Chris Carr; Rita Wehner; and myself, Bill Strachan. Many hours were spent in meetings and in phone calls hashing out the final proposal. Thanks also to Jason Keith, Access Fund Policy Director for his involvement in reviewing our work. The non-climbers involved in the LAC process offered compliments on the thoughtfulness and effort made by climbers in putting together their proposal.
Climbing Still Closed at Cave Rock No Change On Pending Access Fund Lawsuit, NV
Nearly 1 years ago the Access Fund filed its most recent legal brief at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the on-going attempt to keep climbing open at Cave Rock, a popular and important climbing area on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada. For more background see www.accessfund.org/pdf/CRbackgrounder3-28.pdf
In January 2005 at the district court level in Reno a judge upheld the US Forest Service (USFS) decision to ban climbing at Cave Rock; however, the district court prevented the USFS from removing any climbing bolts pending the Access Funds challenge. The AF Board subsequently voted unanimously to pursue an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. For now, since all briefs have been filed, we continue to wait for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to schedule oral arguments or render a verdict. The USFS declined to pursue mediation despite the Access Fund's hope that the conflict may be resolved out of the courtroom.
The Cave Rock climbing ban remains in place at least for the duration of the lawsuit, and it's critical that climbers continue to respect the climbing closure while we work our way through the courts. Violating the climbing closure only harm our case in court and reduce your chances of climbing at Cave Rock in the future. For more information contact Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at Jason@accessfund.org.
Farley Ledge, MA
By Jeff Squire, Access Fund Regional Coordinator & President WMCC
The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has signed a Purchase & Sale Agreement for 9-acres of land at the base of Farley Ledge. Located in Erving, MA, Farley Ledge represents some of the best climbing and bouldering in southern New England between Rumney and the Gunks.
This purchase will allow the WMCC to restrict non-climbing related development at the base of the crag and construct a sustainable and permanent parking area. The new parking area and trailhead will replace the existing small lot now located at the end of a busy residential neighborhood.
The WMCCs acquisition of this property is closely aligned with state protection efforts as the entire Farley Ledge area is designated as Core Habitat Area according to MA Wildlife. Additionally, the towns Open Space & Recreation Plan identifies Farley not only as a valuable habitat area, but also as an important outdoor recreational resource. Farleys unspoiled setting, its link to a multi-state trail system, and its climbing potential help make this project the epitome of land preservation.
The closing date is scheduled for May 1st by which we need to raise an additional $45,000 to finalize the deal. Several fundraisers are planned for the upcoming months including a Silent Auction, our annual Winter Thaw, and a visit from Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell in early March. While the local community has been motivated to make this happen raising over $16,000 over the last 2 months, we still need everyones help. For more information, to donate or to arrange a tour of some damn good rock, check our website www.westernmacc.com
Gunks Climbers Coalition Update, NY
By Christopher Spatz, Access Fund Regional Coordinator and GCC Board Member
It was a busy October for the Gunks Climbers Coalition. The month kicked off on October 7th with a benefit slideshow organized by Rock & Snow featuring Jason Kehl. Jasons eye-popping phantasms raised $1006 (and five Euros!) for the GCCs Waterworks Bouldering Project.
On October 14, the GCC did its publicity bit for the New Paltz Climbing Film Festival by hosting a bagel breakfast at the Trapps Steel Bridge. Proceeds went to the Mohonk Preserves dedicated Rescue Fund.
Our big day of the season, October 21, drew 25 volunteers together with the GCC Board of Directors for Adopt-a-Crag trail maintenance and micro-trash removal at Minnewaska State Parks Peterskill Area. A late, potluck lunch followed the clean-up, where everyone grab-bagged for booty donated by Rock & Snow and the Access Fund in appreciation for their efforts.
In the evening, the GCC BOD convened to adopt new bylaws, before hosting a slideshow by renowned training expert and author, Eric Horst. The training overview for climbing was highlighted with pics from the Gunks to Thailand. A raffle followed the show. Eric generously donated his fee, raising another $300 for the GCC.
As the season closes, GCC Director-at-Large Bob OBrian is gleaning data from the GCCs ten-year follow-up study accessing climbing impact at Peterskill. Following the protocols used in the initial study that opened Peterskill in 1996, Bob is comparing surveys on everything from a small mammal census to trail erosion and vegetation disturbance on the cliffs. The results from the hundreds of volunteer hours that went into the study will be used to review mitigation measures at the crag and for consideration in expanding climbing opportunities at Minnewaska.
Finally, the GCC and the Mohonk Preserve are together drafting a Memorandum of Agreement outlined by the Access Fund as the Waterworks Bouldering Project moves into its primary fundraising phase.
Many thanks go out to the town of Rosendale, to the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park, to the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Rock & Snow, Big Up Productions, Urban Climber, and Cilogear, to those who gave generously at the fundraisers, and especially to the individuals who sacrificed time on the horizontals volunteering this year with the GCC.
Last Chance Canyon, NM
By Jason Fields, Regional Coordinator
The US Forest Service is currently developing a recreation management plan for Last Chance Canyon and as such has requested that all climbing route development be halted until they have time to draft the plan. The restrictions include no new bolting and no new trails or campsites. They also request that while you are in the canyon you refrain from entering the Hermit's Cave and Solstice Cave because of the possible archaeological resources located within.
Other than the above mentioned restrictions all other climbing remains open.
Please direct any questions to Jason Fields at email@example.com
Lawsuit Derails Yosemite National Park Management Plans
On November 3rd a federal judge ruled on a lawsuit filed by the Friends of Yosemite Valley www.bigwalls.net/climb/camp4yosemite/pages/2COMPLAI2.html resulting in a stoppage of "all ground disturbing projects in Yosemite" except for some minor road maintenance on the Valley Loop Road. What this means is that the National Park Service (NPS) is prevented from continuing the Lodge redevelopment project or Camp 4 expansion until a new Merced River Plan is developed and survives any future litigation. Last Friday's decision ruled that the NPS must prepare another plan that protects the wild and scenic Merced River before proceeding with any construction activities. The NPS had argued that it should be allowed to proceed with multiple construction projects within the river corridor.
Under the Wild and Scenic River Act, Yosemite National park must have a plan to regulate development near the banks of the Merced. In 1997 the Merced River Plan became the central focus of the debates about Yosemites future when it flooded and wiped out campgrounds, lodging and parking areas. The Friends of Yosemite Valley felt the Merced River Plan failed to adequately protect the river corridor, and sued. In 2004 the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals directed NPS officials to revise their Merced River plan, but according to the recent court ruling Yosemite National Park failed to redraft the plan in a way adequately protects the river.
For more, see www.fresnobee.com/263/story/11668.html. Another hearing is scheduled for next January but it looks likely that it might take the NPS another two years to finish their latest Merced River Plan before they may commence work on the Lodge redevelopment or Camp 4 expansion. For more information, contact AF Policy Director Jason Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lovers Leap, CA
By Paul Minault, Northern California Regional Coordinator
Climbers topping out at Northern California's Lovers Leap may find not the peaceful alpine summit they expected but a roaring dust cloud of off-road motorcycles under a proposal by the El Dorado National Forest.
A designated motorbike trail to the summit already exists, but it currently sees little motorcycle use. The Forest Service is engaged in a formal motorized route designation process, which will include the closure of some existing routes. This process will determine the fate of the Leap trail and other motorized trails.
If the Leap trail survives the designation process, then climbers can expect increased use of this trail due to the closure of other trails and increased motorized use of the forest in general.
More information on the Forest Service route designation process is available at www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/projects/route/. The alignment of the trail shows in dark red on the Forest Service trail map at www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/documents/route/maps/enf_se_pyramidpeak.pdf.
The Access Fund is preparing a letter to the Forest Service opposing continued motorized use of this trail and encourages climbers to contact the Forest Service in opposition to the trail.
Letters, emails and phone calls should be directed to:
Tony Scardina, OHV Route Designation Leader,
Eldorado National Forest, 100 Forni Rd.
Placerville, CA 95667
The Forest Service expects to issue a draft environmental document in December for the route designation process, and this will be another opportunity for climbers to submit comments on the proposal.
New River Gorge GMP Update; Lawsuit Challenges Proposed Land Development, WV
National Park Service (NPS) continues its General Management Plan (GMP) process for West Virginias New River Gorge National River. The GMP is the foundation for decision making in the park for the next fifteen to twenty years. The purpose of the GMP is to ensure that the park has a clearly defined management direction for resource conservation and visitor use that will affect climbing and camping opportunities. While many climbing specific issues were dealt with in a recent climbing management plan (http://www.nps.gov/archive/neri/cmp/index.htm), this GMP could override any decisions in the climbing plan as well as provide for trails and much needed camping for climbers.
In November the NPS held a series of public meetings that were attended by representatives from the New River Alliance of Climbers www.newriverclimbing.net/, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Plateau Action Network who is challenging a local zoning decision to allow a luxury home development on the rim of the gorge that would significantly alter the unique viewshed forever. For more information or to get involved in the GMP process at the New River Gorge, see http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkID=259&projectId=11040.
The controversial housing proposal planned for the rim of the New River Gorge has seen a number of recent legal developments. The Plateau Action Network (PAN) is a coalition of local interests including the New River Alliance of Climbers. From the beginning PAN supported a reasonable version of the development proposal that did not impact the world class view of the Gorge. PAN believes that a high a quality residential development adjacent to the New River Gorge can proceed in a way that also protects the valuable resources of the park including the distinctive viewshed. The NPS agrees with this position, expressing significant concern that this development should be planned in a way that enhances the local economy but doesnt diminish the asset that keeps people coming back to the region. See www.hintonnews.net/state/060605-shns-nrg.html or listen to a recent NPR story at www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5498888 to get more background. The boating community has also been concerned with this potential change to the scenery at the New River Gorge http://www.americanwhitewater.org/archive/article/1281/.
Although developers tell the public that no houses would be visible from any ground level point in the park, a sophisticated, computer generated viewshed analysis produced by the NPS shows that nearly 80 home sites would be visible along the rim of the gorge. In addition, the countys decision whether to allow this development proposal will likely set a president for at least two other development proposals which could amount to as many as 1,800 new homes. Consideration of these long term effects is the substance of PANs legal appeals which challenge the decision of a local zoning officer who ruled that the local development code contained no provisions to consider viewshed despite clear language which states that outstanding views may be taken into account in zoning decisions. The zoning officer also declared that the public would have to pay the developer if any building plans were prohibited by the county, even though existing state law contradicts this position. Accordingly, last summer PAN joined forces with other organizations including the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) and brought an unsuccessful appeal to a zoning board despite an admission of oversight in interpreting the development code state compensation requirements for county zoning rejections. Nonetheless, the county zoning board affirmed the decision to approve the development proposal.
Legal gyrations continued into the fall when PAN and NPCA considered an appeal the Circuit Court of Fayette County in their continuing quest to preserve the New River Gorge viewshed. Hoping to prevent this public appeal, the developer threatened to sue PAN (and some of its individual members) for tortuous interference, a legal action that some believe to be a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). SLAPP suits can cause a chilling affect on the right of individuals to participate in the public process. To win this tortuous interference lawsuit, the developer would have to show that PAN was acting with malice; most SLAPPs are ultimately unsuccessful, but nonetheless they are often threatened because they can intimidate potential plaintiffs into withdrawing their otherwise constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
In late October PAN agreed to withdraw its appeal after the Fayette County Commission unanimously approved a resolution that responded to many of PANs concerns about how the county considers future development along the New River Gorge. The resolution indicates the need to work closely with public land managers to ensure that developments moving forward protect our public lands, are compatible with park values, and reinforces the need to protect scenic views that lure thousands of visitors annually to New River Gorge. Furthermore, the resolution also recognized the need to follow the states process for public engagement in planning decisions for development surrounding the New. It's not too late for the [land development company] to be good neighbors, and remove these controversial lots from the parks viewshed, said Joy Oakes, Senior Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association. The ball is in their court. For more information on this increasingly complicated legal process that could affect the experiences of climbers at the New River Gorge, see www.plateauactionnetwork.org/.
Park Service Begins Management Plan Affecting Climbing and Bouldering Near Newhalem, WA
The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that it will begin the process of crafting a General Management Plan (GMP) for Ross Lake National Recreation Area which lies adjacent to North Cascades National Park 1 hours north of Seattle. This updated GMP will describe the general path that the NPS intends to follow in managing the Ross Lake NRA over the next fifteen to twenty years. For planning details and to submit your own comments see http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?parkID=337&projectId=16940
At issue in this plan will be the future of climbing access to extensive climbing resources in the Skagit River Gorge which climbers had begun developing in 2001. After the NPS became aware of the new climbing and bouldering activity they asked climbers to stop developing new routes and bouldering areas pending a specific climbing management plan (CMP) that has yet to materialize. This GMP will address all aspects of ecosystem management and public uses of the NRA and thus the GMP will take several years to plan for and implement. Local climbers are hoping for a quicker result, especially after five years waiting for a CMP. In late October, the NPS completed a series of public workshops in Washington State and British Columbia to assess public opinion on the direction of the plan and what specific values should be protected. These meetings were well-attended by Access Fund representatives and members of the Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC) www.washingtonclimbers.org. For more information about the details of the plan and climbing resources near Newhalem, contact the WCC or email Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at Jason@accessfund.org.
Pinnacle Peak Park, AZ
By Erik Filsinger, AMC Land Advocacy Chair
Please keep in mind that Pinnacle Peak Park opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. Currently the listed park hours are 6:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The hours are posted at the entrance. If you do not exit the gates of the park prior to closing (or are within the park before opening) you could be subject to arrest and fines for criminal trespassing, a felony in AZ.
Please also remember that the climbing community and the AMC in particular worked very hard for the opening of Pinnacle Peak Park and to keep climbing there. We agreed in negotiations to certain conditions, one of which was to respect the park operational hours, so the facts mentioned above are part of the price we pay to retain this precious urban climbing area.
Do what you can to help out. The park staff is very supportive of climbing.
Shelf Road: Cactus Cliffs Road Closure, CO
Liz Nichol, Outreach Coordinator, Rocky Mountain Field Institute
Beginning November 2006 the road leading to the Cactus Cliffs climbing area from Shelf Road will be closed. The BLM has decided to close this steep, un-maintained road due to liability issues and the requests of private property owners along the road.
Cactus Cliffs, Spiney Ridge, and The Gymnasium are still open to climbing.
There is a new trail leading to Cactus Cliffs from The Bank. This is now the fastest, most convenient way to approach the area. The trail was built in August by the Rocky Mountain Field Institute with the help of AmeriCorps volunteers and a grant from the Access Fund. It is approximately 1.5 miles long.
Please park in the newly expanded parking area at The Bank.
PLEASE DO NOT PARK ALONG SHELF ROAD.
For more information contact BLM at 719-269-8500 Thank you for your cooperation.
Indian Creek Update
Human Waste - Thanks in part to a Patagonia Environmental Grant, the pilot program for self management of human waste at Indian Creek nears the end of its 3rd climbing season. For details see the new Friends of Indian Creek (FOIC) website www.friendsofindiancreek.org which was made possible by generous support from Trango). The success of this trial program is key to maintaining the unique primitive camping and climbing experience found at Indian Creek and stave off view-killing improvements by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). See Timmy O'Neil taking care of business the right way at the Creek: www.accessfund.org/extras/tic.php
Camping - During an Access Fund Adopt-A-Crag in early September, the Friends of Indian Creek assisted Dugout Ranch tenant Heidi Redd to close approximately 10 campsites along the Bridger Jack Road that are on Dugout Property. This work, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and the BLM, was part of a FOIC compromise with Heidi for continued climbing access across Dugout Land (such as access trails to Super Crack, Scarface and several other popular buttresses). Over thirty designated BLM campsites remain 1.5 miles further down the Bridger Jack Road, and nearly all other established Indian Creek campsites remain open for use.
Parking - there is no parking at the former Way Rambo parking area. This area has been posted as closed by the state but apparently someone has removed the sign. The final 500 yards of that road is now closed to vehicle access so please park back at the triangle junction where the road goes to Pistol Whipped Wall. Moving this parking area will limit conflict with the Indian Creek Cattle Company's seasonal work moving cows and only add a few minutes of extra walking for climbers headed to Way Rambo.
Information Brochure - With financial help from the Access Fund the Friends of Indian Creek have also produced an informational brochure that will guide visitors to camping, climbing and parking locations throughout Indian Creek. An online version of this guide can be found here friendsofindiancreek.org/ICbrochure.pdf The brochure will also explain low-impact practices, the new human waste project and other specifics of the new Indian Creek Management Plan friendsofindiancreek.org/agencies.php. For more information, join the Friends of Indian Creek by emailing email@example.com or contact Jason Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org
AdkMCo- The Adirondack Mountaineering Coalition
By Jesse Williams
The fall meeting of the Adirondack Mountaineering Coalition is this Saturday, October 14th.
First on the agendaand a hopeful predictor of future beneficial collaborations with the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservationis a review of the peregrine nesting closures from last season. Two factors contributed to a smoother and more effective process: 1) an increase in (trained) volunteer observations at popular cliffs, and 2) consultation with Coalition representatives on the technical delineation of route closures.
Effective and timely management of closures is contingent upon positive identification of nests. In an effort to facilitate the efficacy of theses closures, a handful of members of the AdkMCo participated in a volunteer observer training offered by the NY state DEC's Wildlife Division. In the spring, Coalition members assisted volunteers and seasonal wildlife staff in the recognition of nesting activities at popular climbing cliffs. The training and observation sessions were also excellent opportunities for climbers and birders to meet and establish a rapport. Positive relationships with birders proved beneficial as in several locations nests were (in an unusual season) abandoned and relocated mid-season. Observations from volunteer birders were truly instrumental in the corresponding opening and closing of climbing areas affected by the changes.
The second key factor in the effective management of the closures was the willingness of local Wildlife officials to sit down with Coalition representatives and discuss the actual technical delineations of specific closures. Rather than relying on an outright closure of ALL climbing routes, Coalition representatives provided insight on the actual terrain features, lines-of-sight, primary descent routes and proximity to popular 'classic' routes. It should be noted that at some cliffslike the expansive wall at Poke-O-Moonshinethis adaptive process yielded much more open climbing terrain than in the prior year and accommodated spaces for both peregrines and climbers. At the same time, Coalition representatives acknowledged that the terrain at other cliffs such as the Washbowl Cliff at Chapel Pond simply did not allow for climbing without the potential for disturbance near or above nests and Coalition representatives agreed that the cliff should remain closed to climbing until after successful fledging (or in the worst case, nest failure).
In the future, the AdkMtCo looks forward to working with NYS DEC Wildlife to continue and refine this collaborative process of adaptive management throughout the season. Coalition members benefit from the involvement and consultation in managing the closures and have demonstrated a willingness to provide a balance between protecting habitat for New York's peregrine population and allowing access to our favorite climbing areas.
At this weekend's meeting we hope to hear the final numbers on the peregrines' reproductive success this season, and we hope the process proves to be equally beneficial for the peregrines.
Cave Rock, NV Update:
Access Fund Lawsuit Still Pending, Climbing Remains Closed
Over a year ago in mid-August of 2005 the Access Fund filed its most recent legal brief at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the on-going attempt to keep climbing open at Cave Rock, a popular and important climbing area on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada. For more background see www.accessfund.org/pdf/CRbackgrounder3-28.pdf
In January 2005 at the district court level in Reno a judge upheld the US Forest Service (USFS) decision to ban climbing at Cave Rock; however, the district court prevented the USFS from removing any climbing bolts pending the lawsuits result.
The AF Board subsequently voted to pursue an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. For now, since all briefs have been filed, we continue to wait for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to schedule oral arguments or render a verdict. The USFS declined to pursue mediation despite the Access Fund's hope that the conflict may be resolved out of the courtroom.
The climbing ban remains in place at least for the duration of the lawsuit, and it's critical that climbers continue to respect the climbing closure at Cave Rock while we work our way through the courtsignoring the ban will only harm our case in court and reduce the chances that it will reopen.
For more information contact Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at Jason@accessfund.org.