Graffiti Removal at the Northwest Branch, MD
By Ocean Eiler, Access Fund Regional Coordinator for Virginia
It was a hot, muggy morning as I walked outside with my first cup of coffee. The fog was thick and suffocating. Taking a sip of coffee, I smirked to myself. Of course the first day of summer would come on the day I'd planned to do a mini crag cleanup. Out of the fog, Gill appeared.
Forty-five minutes later, we were in the parking lot of Northwest Branch Park (NWB) with the leaders that managed the NWB Adopt-A-Crag two months earlier. Previously cold weather conditions had shutdown our plans to do graffiti removal from the boulders. Today, with temperatures predicted in the upper 90s, this was not a problem.
The players were Addison Helmke, Chris Irwin, Scott Kragen, Thomson Ling, Gill Lingenfelter, Nicole Martino, Libby Sommer, and myself. Donning protective eye-ware and gloves, we armed ourselves with buckets and brushes and headed off into the boulder fields.
Our main focus was a popular boulder called Reefer Rock. Over the years it has attracted many an aspiring graffiti artist. This translates to numerous paint layers.
Water, brushing, and positive thoughts alone would not remove this paint. We came armed with a secret weapon, Soytech. Soytech is a biodegradable (soy-based) graffiti removal product that was donated to us by Randy Frees at Soy Technologies, LLC. His huge donation made this venture a reality.
Roughly four hours later we had made a significant dent in the graffiti covering Reefer Rock. I would love to say we removed all of it but the layers of graffiti were just too dense in places. However, as we surveyed our work I think we felt good about what we had done. These first steps are part of a much larger commitment to the Northwest Branch crag.
Thank you to Mid Atlantic Climbers, Access Fund, and the Maryland, Virginia, and DC climbing communities that help support us. A special thank you to Randy Frees at Soy Technologies, LLC, without his help this project would not have been possible.
Road Improvements at Muir Valley, KY
By Doris Edwards, Friends of Muir Valley, Co-Chairperson
On May 29, the half-mile lane leading back to Muir Valley was closed for one week so that it could undergo major rebuilding. This was deemed necessary by the preserve owners due to the increasing number of climbing visitorsclose to 600 during the Memorial Day weekend alone.
Two large, blind hills were completely removed during construction to make the drive into the Valley much safer. Although not completely finished, the road was reopened on June 7.
Visitors to Muir Valley are asked to drive slowly on the new road as the shoulders are soft and the ditches steep at this time. Cleanup along the side of the new road will continue by Friends of Muir Valley volunteers over the next few weeks.
Yosemite National Park Revises Schedule for Merced River Plan, CA
Yosemite National Park (YNP) is proposing a revised planning schedule for the Merced River Plan that could restrict climbing and camping access in Yosemite Valley. This plan could limit the number of campsites in the Valley and, in a worst case scenario, restrict climbing access to some crags along the river. This new project schedule, if approved by the court, will be completed in December 2011 and is in response to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling requiring YNP to impose numeric limits on visitors in the Merced River corridor. For more background on this issue, see www.accessfund.org/pubs/en/e-news90.htm#_Two_Access_Lawsuits.
The courts order directs YNP to establish new wilderness trailhead quotas and numeric limits in the management corridor (approximately mile on each side of the river) to determine whether Wild and Scenic River values are protected and enhanced. YNP will now transition to site-specific planning in Yosemite Valley to analyze specific types and levels of public use, as well as evaluate the appropriateness of specific facilities.
The new December 2011 completion date envisions that the NPS will re-examine site-specific planning decisions for many areas formerly addressed by the 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan. A public scoping period will begin as soon as possible, and publication and distribution of preliminary alternatives will begin in summer of 2009. By January 2011, YNP will publish a Draft Merced River Plan. Both of these planning phases will be open for public review and comment with a final plan decision due around December 2011.
To stay tuned to the progress of the plan and to get involved, see www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/newmrp.htm. The Access Fund will continue to monitor the progress of the Merced River Plan to ensure that climbing access is not unreasonably restricted. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue Ridge Parkway Prepares General Management Plan
The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing a general management plan (GMP) for the Blue Ridge Parkway. This plan could affect high-quality bouldering and climbing areas such as Grandmother Boulders and Shiprock. The Carolina Climbers Coalition has been working with the NPS to maintain climbing access to these popular areas. For more background, see www.carolinaclimbers.org/Ship-Rock.html.
This GMP will provide a vision for the parkway's future and help guide decision-making for the next 20 years, including recreation policy that could affect climbing access. The Blue Ridge Parkway has developed three preliminary alternatives, and 15 of the parkways large recreation areas are addressed in these three alternatives.
Review the draft plan and submit comments http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?....
For more information, contact the Carolina Climbers Coalition: www.carolinaclimbers.org.
Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition Formed
On March 29, the Access Funds Grassroots Coordinator, Charlie Boas, met with El Paso locals and visiting climbers to form/reform a local climbing organization.
Prompted by the recent closure of the Mushroom Boulder, the new Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition (CHTC) met to discuss the history and future of Hueco Tanks climbers groups with long-time local Dave Head and Hueco Rock Ranch Managers Rob Rice and Charles Kelly.
After some fantastic homemade burritos and a few cervezas, the new coalition has decided on a name, selected a Board of Directors, and scheduled a second meeting for early May.
At the next meeting the CHTC will be deciding on a mission statement and planning for an upcoming fundraiser scheduled for September 2008.
For more information, please contact Charlie Boas at email@example.com.
Climbing Access Threatened at Sunset Rock
By Samantha Christen, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
Climbing at Sunset Park, one of the premier trad areas in Tennessee, is in danger of being nothing but a bittersweet memory, according to representatives of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC).
Matthew Gant, a member of the SCC board, said the National Park Service was recently on the verge of shutting down climbing at Sunset. One month ago the rangers had given up on climbers and had made plans for closing Sunset to climbing permanently, Gant says. He further explains that the park service cited numerous negative incidents involving climbers, including loudness (Sunset is in a residential area), blocking trails with ropes and gear, and unruly dogs. Local climber groups were able to convince the park service not to go ahead with the climbing ban. According to Grant, the rangers want to see more involvement in education, monitoring, and self-policing of the crag by groups like the SCC.
Sunset Park is part of the Chickamauga National Battlefield Park, a major battle in the Civil War. As such, it is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Samantha Christen, the SCCs area representative for Sunset, points out that this is the only military park in the U.S. that allows climbing, and there is no particular obligation for the NPS to continue this practice. At any point in time, they (NPS) can come in and shut us down with absolutely no explanation, she says.
The SCC has been a key organization in maintaining the sometimes uneasy relationship between climbers, the park service, and the residents of Lookout Mountain. Volunteers from the group have put in a tremendous number of person-hours on trail work, erosion control, and installing bolted anchors to spare the trees at the top of the cliff. Christen says the park service appreciates this work, but only to a point. We are only, in their eyes, fixing what we broke, she says. In their eyes, we, at this point, really have done no preventative maintenance, just repair of damaged areas.
The NPS maintains Sunset as a memorial to the Civil War battle; recreation is a secondary concern. This is especially true in light of recent government cutbacks, which have left the park service shorthanded. If climbers make the rangers job more difficult, they may consider it easiest just to get rid of the problem by banning climbing, Christen and Gant say. The park service does not hate us, nor do they wish to see us go as a user-group, Christen says. However, with the decrease in manpower due to federal cutbacks, they are prepared to take necessary measures to ensure that they are able to do their jobs.
The SCC is currently working on a plan for educating Sunset climbers on the issues involved and on how to deal with people who violate the rules. Some possible steps include fliers to hand out or put on climbers cars; letters to climbing gyms, school clubs, and outdoor organizations; and encouraging people to ask their fellow climbers to move their gear off the trail or keep their voices down.
In the end, though, it will come down to whether Sunset climbers care enough about this great destination to do the right thing. All it will take is a few uncaring individuals out of the thousands who climb at Sunset every year to put an end to almost 50 years of great southern climbing. For the latest status of Sunset and what you can do to help, go to the SCC website: www.seclimbers.org/index.php
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.