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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Jason Keith at email@example.com
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.
Concho Valley Climbers Association, Texas
By Rob Sparks
Through positive communication with the local government and presenting climbers as a legitimate and viable resource to their community, the Concho Valley Climbers Association (CVCA) works with the City of San Angelo, Texas, through the Parks Dept. to develop and open climbing areas in the region.
The organization has a written contract for the work they perform including conserving the climbing areas, and have already discussed the future projects with them. Two of four climbing areas currently under the umbrella of the CVCA were prior locations that were in jeopardy of being closed and the other two are soon to be newly opened and approved by the San Angelo Parks Dept.
Much of the success of the CVCA is due to the hard work of a small but very active group, and with new and enthusiastic people contacting the CVCA regularly wanting to get involved in the sport of climbing.
AF Note: We are excited to have the CVCA join the Access Fund Affiliate program. Welcome! If you are a local climber and are interested in starting an Affiliate organization in your area, contact Deanne Buck, Programs Director at Deanne@AccessFund.org or 303.545.6772 x112.
Denver, Colorado Climbers Needed
Wanted: Climbers in and around Denver, Colorado interested in becoming active in climbing access and conservation. Please contact Deanne Buck, Programs Director at Deanne@AccessFund.org or 303.545.6772 x112
Proposition 106 - Conserving Arizona's Future
By Erik Filsinger, Arizona Mountaineering Club Land Advocacy Chair
Passage of Proposition 106 on November 7th would allow about 400,000 acres of the 7,000,000 acres total of State Trust Lands to be used for Conservation. Without that designation the current system of selling State Trust Land to the highest bidder would continue and where there are now trails and climbing areas there will be houses and gated communities.
The designation of 400,000 acres for conservation includes urban lands near Phoenix that contain significant climbing areas. Without passage of Proposition 106 the State Trust Land's in north Scottsdale could be sold to the developers. These climbing areas include Little Granite and Cholla Mountains. Elsewhere State Trust Lands could impact climbing at Cochise Stronghold, Upper and Lower Devils Canyon, and Jacuzzi Spires.
Proposition 106 has an even bigger impact for other outdoor recreational users such as mountain bikers and hikers who will lose many hundreds of miles of trails in urban areas of State Trust Land scattered around Arizona's cities.
For more information contact Erik Filsinger, Arizona Mountaineering Club Land Advocacy Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Diego Update
By Dave Kennedy, Regional Coordinator San Diego County
The very popular Santee Boulders, long known to be on private property, now see housing development threatening access. Local climbers are imploring the city of San Diego to set aside the parcel containing the boulders for mitigation. It has proven difficult to penetrate the multi-level bureaucracy overlaying the development plans. Meanwhile, the nearby Magnolia Boulders (which are actually owned by the city of Santee) are seeing much surrounding development; however the top of the hill has been set aside for recreation and is now under the control of the State Fish & Game Dept.
El Cajon Mountain
Through many meetings and letters, the USFS has rescinded a slated seasonal raptor closure of El Cajon Mountain. The meetings have consisted of relationship building, familiarizing USFS staff with climbing and the climbing community, and remaining patient. A decision regarding other crags with raptor nests is forthcoming. To continue to build on these relationships, a San Diego Alliance of Climbers Adopt-a-Crag is scheduled for Nov. 11, when climbers will clean the El Cajon Mt. trailhead and possibly do some trail work. In addition, the climbing community has united against unilateral removal by one individual of placed bolts (which has occurred here in the past). The climbing community believes that once bolts have been placed they should not be removed unless there is consensus among the local climbing community favoring their removal. We will work very hard to ensure that this standard is practiced by all in the San Diego climbing community.
Other News Tom Donnelly has come on board as a co-Regional Coordinator for San Diego County, and as co-head of the San Diego Alliance of Climbers. Fall through Spring is the best time to climb in SD, and with a new guidebook due shortly, don't hesitate to come and sample some of the more than 2000 routes the county has to offer, from boulder problems to 6-pitch climbs. 2006 has seen much happen with regard to San Diego climbing access, and the year's not over yet!
Owls Head Cliff, NH
The 380+/- acre Owls Head Cliff property is currently listed for sale with a real estate broker. If sold on the private market the property would likely be developed into second homes/vacation homes and an incredible community recreation resource and critical wildlife habitat could be permanently lost.
In addition to possessing 800+/- vertical feet of shear granite cliff face of Owls Head (1,967 ft.), the property also contains 6,000+/- feet of stream frontage along both sides of Oliverian Brook (a tributary of the Connecticut River) including a small waterfall. Approximately one-half mile southeast of the property the infamous Appalachian Trail passes through Oliverian Notch and the Jeffers Brook Shelter and Blueberry Mountain Trail are also in close proximity to the Owls Head Cliff property.
The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) with support from the Access Fund is leading an effort to have this property purchased by the White Mountain National Forest. The Trust for Public Lands goal is to permanently conserve the 380+/- acre Owls Head Cliff property for people and wildlife, by conveying it to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the White Mountain National Forest.
Support for this project is needed in the form of letters and other contact with US Forest Service management, elected officials and conservation organizations. This project will take time, at least several months, possibly a few years. This property is too unique to let it be used for anything but public or conservation land. Many people are interested in maintaining the cliff's availability for rock climbing.
Owls Head Cliff, general info. home.usaa.net/~thewebweaver/owlsheadandtheoliverian.html
Thank you to all of you that are active participants in this project,
Southwest Colorado Update
Steve Johnson, Southwest Colorado Regional Coordinator
Falls Wall and Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, Colorado.
The Falls Wall is located next to Bridal Veil Falls at an elevation of over 9500 feet. It has recently seen development of several hundred sport climbs of up to 300 ft. on high quality conglomerate rock. The Falls Wall is covered in Charlie Fowler and Damon Johnstons guide, Telluride Rocks, 3rd Edition, and is one of the premier alpine sport crags in Colorado.
The Falls Wall cliffs are located on United States Forest Service property. The approach from the Bridal Veil Road (County road K-69), at the base of the tram that connects to the Bridal Veil powerhouse (one switchback below the base of Bridal Veil Falls), crosses private property currently owned by Idarado Mining Company. The Town of Telluride has obtained a large Great Outdoors Colorado grant for acquisition of this property, known as the Kentucky Placer. The Kentucky Placer extends for almost a mile to connect with the Telluride Town Park. Telluride is in the process of completing its due diligence investigation and additional fund raising for the purchase. If all goes well, the purchase will legalize the access to the Falls Wall in time for the 2007 climbing season.
In addition, the base of the Kentucky Placer appears to extend to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. A pending survey should help locate the exact corners, as problematic as it is with steep cliffs, etc. This may or may not prove to be the solution to legally getting to and up Bridal Veil Falls, though it would not cover the walkoff at the top.
Railroad Grade Ice, Ophir, Colorado.
A section of the old Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad known as the Ophir Loop below Ophir, Colorado provides a flat base along several hundred yards of moderate to hard short ice slabs and mixed smears known as the Railroad Grade Ice. This base area is also known as the Galloping Goose Trail which the United States Forest Service has established in the region. The Railroad Grade Ice is located on private property and there are conflicting jurisdictional claims to the Galloping Goose Trail itself.
A federal land exchange was proposed several years ago that would result in acquisition of the Railroad Grade Ice area by the Forest Service. That land exchange, unfortunately, has recently fallen through. The United States Forest Service, however, appears determined to secure ownership of the Galloping Goose Trail and access to it over an intervening parcel from State Highway 145 at the top of Ophir Loop. In the meantime, the Railroad Grade Ice remains closed to the public.
Wilson Peak is a scenic 14,000 ft. peak featured on the Coors beer commercials. It crowns a massif with three of Colorados southwestern most 14ers. Two years ago, a land owner closed trails in Silver Pick Basin which provided access to the classic Southwest Ridge of Wilson Peak, as well as trails also connecting into Navajo Basin for climbers interested in summiting Mount Wilson and El Diente Peak. The landowner did so following USFS denial of his numerous efforts to exchange 38 above-timberline mining claims (constituting approximately 238 acres) for over 2000 acres of developable properties on Wilson Mesa outside of Telluride. The claims include a strip of land near the summit of Wilson Peak.
A Wilson Peak Protection Fund has been set up to evaluate alternative access, provide signage and education to hikers, and possibly to restore access over existing historic trails. Initial efforts may include funding a USFS-led survey to definitively establish trail and claim locations, estimated to cost over $57,000.00. Donations may be sent to the Colorado Mountain Club, 710 Tenth Street, Ste. 200, Golden, Colorado 80401, ATTN: Cathy McGuire. Checks should be made out to the Colorado Mountain Club with a notation in the remarks line of Wilson Peak Fund.
The Wilson Peak Protection Fund was established after extensive negotiations with the landowner over one year failed. The goal was to acquire a recreational easement over the mining claims. During the negotiations, the landowner expressed major concern over liability to hikers and climbers as a major reason for its closure. In 2005, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 1049, which afforded immunity to landowners who allow members of the public to cross over historically used trails for recreational purposes at no charge. While this bill was pending, the landowner instead decided to offer, pay to play access, charging $100 per climber/hiker per day. As a result, the new liability protections will not available to the landowner. The landowners website can be found at www.wilsonpeakaccess.com. The Telluride Mountain Club discourages the public and guides from paying any access fee.
The landowner has also announced plans to commence gold mining in Silver Pick basin as part of an apparent effort to force the public and the Forest Service to approve the unbalanced land exchange proposal.
In the meantime, Wilson Peak climbers can skirt the mining claims by crossing very loose scree slopes above and east of the Silverpick Road and traversing on trails and scrambling into the upper Silver Pick Basin. This leads to the West Face, where the summit can be legally accessed up steep snow or scree and talus. The two other 14ers can continue to be legally accessed from Navajo Basin. For more information, see: email@example.com; www.summitpost.com; www.14ers.com.