Improve the Future of Climbing at Hueco Tanks ACT NOW!
Texas State Parks are in a vulnerable position resulting from inadequate and declining state funding over the last decade. These parks include Hueco Tanks, Enchanted Rock and McKinney Falls, all of which contain climbing or bouldering. As a result of this funding decline, coupled with ever-increasing costs, the state parks current budget shortfall has lead to lay-offs, partial closings and curtailment of park programs, especially for youth. When the budget for Texas climbing parks suffers your climbing future is at risk.
Your help is needed to secure adequate funding for climbing parks in Texas.
There are currently two bills up for approval this session in the Texas Legislature, HB 6 and SB 252, which if passed would remove a cap on the allocation of sporting goods taxes towards Texas state and local parks (also including Reimers Ranch). These bills could result in a much-needed increase in funding to Texas State Parks and enable the restoration of park programs, hiring of additional staff, and new and improved park facilities that would benefit climbers and other recreational users. In short, the approval of HB 6 and SB 252 could result in a long-term investment in Texas climbing parks.
Also in the works is a proposal by Texas state legislators and agency commissioners to transfer more than 20 state park properties in Texas from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) over to the Texas Historical Commission (THC). THC insists that Hueco Tanks is no longer targeted for transfer though it was initially. Heuco is certainly a desirable asset as the premiere archaeological resource in the state and we must assure that it stays off the THCs list for transfer. With THCs mission centered on the preservation of archeological and cultural landmarks in Texas, climbing access at Hueco could change under THC management.
The Access Fund is taking action to support the approval of HB 6 and SB 252 and oppose the transfer of state parks, including Hueco Tanks, from TPWD to THC.
The Access Fund is taking the following actions: 1. An Austin-based lobbying campaign that aligns Texas climbers with other interest groups dedicated to preserving the financial security of Texas state parks and Hueco in particular. This work will also involve direct lobbying to the Texas governors office, and talking with numerous relevant Texas legislators and public land agency officials.
2. Working with Hueco locals and mobilizing a local grassroots organization targeting El Paso-area climbers, other Texas constituents, and out-of-state climbers that frequent Hueco who all share an interest in preserving recreational access at Hueco. This effort includes immediate letter writing to Austin-based policy makers and rallying Hueco climbers at the 2007 Rock Rodeo.
Now is the time to invest in the future of climbing at Hueco Tanks. If you are a Texas state resident contact your state legislator and urge them to:
(1) improve funding for state and local parks (2) oppose the transfer of recreation-based parks to the Texas Historical Commission.
Visit www.accessfund.org/pdf/Hueco_Talking_Points_2_9_07.pdf to read talking points and find information on who your state representative is in Texas.
If you are a non-Texan who has visited and enjoy the climbing opportunities at Hueco Tanks, check the next ENEWS (sign up here if you dont already receive it) to fill out an economic impact survey and show your local influence.
If you want to ensure future climbing and bouldering access to Hueco Tanks and other climbing parks in Texas, now is the time to speak up.
Stay tuned to the Access Fund ENEWS for updates to this issue.
For more information about Hueco visit: http://accessfund.org/pubs/en/e-news22.htmland a href="http://www.huecorockranch.com
Contact the Access Fund for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Legislators Propose Electronic Signaling Devices for Mountaineers, OR
Following hi-drama rescue efforts this winter on Oregons Mt. Hood, electronic signaling devices (ESDs) have been touted by the media as key to saving lives.
Responding to these recent events, the Oregon governor recently issued an executive order (www.governor.oregon.gov/Gov/docs/executive_orders/eo0701.pdf) establishing a Search and Rescue Task Force to review Oregon laws, rules and policies pertaining to search and rescue operations and to recommend contemporary best practices for search and rescue operations. Now, a new bill in the Oregon state legislature (HB 2509) would require the use of ESDs by any individual or group engaging in mountain climbing above timberline during a five-month period in the winter. The proposed law would also require commercial guides, under certain conditions, to carry an altimeter, contour map and a compass. For more details see www.leg.state.or.us/07reg/measures/hb2500.dir/hb2509.intro.html.
Public criticism of HB 2509 was swift. Many point out that most ESDs will not serve as effective rescue tools and could cause the inexperienced to rely on them inappropriately (for example, use these one-way devices as avalanche beacons). Moreover, people carrying cell phones and ESDs may take more risk than normal, thinking that they can easily summon help. Alternatively, mountaineers who do not carry an ESD, yet know of the new legal requirement, may hesitate to ask for help for fear of penalty, thus further endangering themselves and rescuers. In short, the unintended but very real consequence of this proposed law will be more risks by mountaineers and lost time by rescuers.
Opponents of this bill also complain that the requirements to carry additional equipment are applied in a discriminatory fashion to mountaineers only (it doesnt apply to hikers, skiers, or, snowmobilers) despite surveys of rescue efforts that show that these other recreational user groups generate more search and rescue hours. Moreover, it is generally easier to locate people above tree line and much more difficult to locate people in the forest where ESDs devices would not be required under the proposed law.
The Access Fund believes that outdoor enthusiasts should take responsibility for their own safety and responsibly use appropriate rescue equipment. However, the state should not require the use of ESDs as these devices can create a false sense of security that rescue is available. Also, penalties for failing to carry an ESD may create a disincentive to contacting rescuers, thus further endangering everyone involved. To comment on HB 2509 (whether you live in Oregon or not) email the Oregon legislature at: www.leg.state.or.us. For more information contact Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at email@example.com.
Madrone Wall Update, OR
By Keith K. Daellenbach, Madrone Wall Preservation Committee
The Parks Advisory Board (PAB) reviewed Clackamas County Parks Department staff recommendations for the next five years parks budget on 23 January. Thirty-five projects were recommended by County Parks staff for funding from an overall budget of $6.437 million. Included in the staff recommendation were two Madrone Wall allocations.
A $40K Hardscrabble Master Plan allocation was recommended for FY2007-2008. The master plan would plan for park activities and uses, capital expenses, traffic studies, on-site parking needs/design, and state highway approach. The master plan should be completed in nine to twelve months after the fiscal year starts on July 1, 2007.
A second recommended allocation by County Parks was for Madrone Park Improvements to occur four years later in FY2011-2012 (Year 5) for $300K. Creating required on-site parking is identified as the single largest capital expense; other capital expenditures include a porta-potty, signage, and trail materials. Three separate estimates acquired by the MWPC last fall show the cost to grade and finish a parking lot for 50 cars will cost a maximum of $40K for gravel and $70K for asphalt. While these estimates do not include surveying, permitting, or site preparation, they do indicate that park improvements may be significantly less than what this $300K capital allocation allows for.
The MWPC has lined-up several professionals, including cartographers and traffic engineers, willing to donate pro bono time to assist the planning process further reducing County costs. It is critical that the County follow through with their goal to make this a priority by establishing funding for capital improvements in years immediately following the FY2007-2008 park master planning process. This logic is applied to other County projects and the Madrone Wall should not be an exception. The master plan should not languish four years before something concrete is accomplished.
The next PAB meeting on February 20th at 7:00 p.m. will be critical. This meeting will further refine the Parks budget and finalize recommendations for consideration by the Commissioners. Reallocation decisions at the January PAB meeting will provide the opportunity to move up Year 5 Madrone Wall capital funding to FY 2008-2009 which is warranted.
While it is up to the PAB Chair to take comments from visitors, if you would like to provide input, we encourage you to attend this critical planning meeting. It will be held on Tuesday the 20th in Room 436 of the Countys Sunnybrook Service Center (9101 S.E. Sunnybrook Blvd., Clackamas). We also encourage you to contact the Commissioners directly (www.co.clackamas.or.us/bcc/) and register your support for the timely creation of a County park in a park-barren area with massive anticipated population growth in Damascus. The Board of County Commissioners review of PAB budget recommendations and setting FY2007-2008 budget.
Access To Hyalite Canyon Ice Climbing In Jeopardy
By Emily Stifler
The new Gallatin National Forest travel plan severely threatens access to the world-class ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana. The plan closes and gates Hyalite Canyon road, the only reasonable access road to the ice climbing, between January 1 and May 15. This decision effectively reduces a 5-month ice climbing season to five weeks, eliminates 77% of all ice climbing and over 92% of the beginner and intermediate climbs in the Bozeman area.
How you can help:
1.Take a 5 minute survey
The Southwestern Montana Climbers Coalitions and First Ascent Press have created an online survey for all ice climbers. The results of this survey will help in policy arguments for access to ice climbing resources in other areas, as well. The survey can be accessed at www.hyalitecanyon.com or directly at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?A=167794934E65415
We encourage all who are interested in ice climbing to take a few moments to complete the simple survey even if you have not visited Hyalite. No sign up or registration is required and your responses protected by secure encryption. The data will provide extremely useful, if not necessary, information to present our situation to the Forest Service regarding the adopted Gallatin National Forest Travel Plan.
2. Write a letter to the Editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle has already published a number of letters from local and non-local climbers that has had an amazing effect on local politicians. Ice climbers now have at least one city and one county commissioner attending meetings. A well constructed, short letter to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (firstname.lastname@example.org) urging Supervisor Heath to reconsider her decision to gate Hyalite Road and open 3 miles of road for winter access that will save over 140 ice climbs, from the climbers across the country will be useful in applying local political pressure.
3. Stay informed
For more information, recent discussions and updates go to www.montanaice.com/forums.
This final plan, entitled 7M, is the culmination of more than four years of discussion, public comment periods, private meetings, letters to the editor, and ongoing debates and arguments among user groups.
7M designates the road beyond the gate for "family oriented cross-country skiing," and leaves ice climbers with two choices for access after December 31: a lengthy backcountry ski, or a circuitous, ungroomed, remote snowmobile route that experienced, local sled-heads call advanced and difficult riding.
The Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition (SMCC), the Access Fund, First Ascent Press and many other concerned individuals and businesses are currently working hard to explore the options to protect this climbing access.
These groups may need to launch an administrative appeal to the Forest Service, and need more statistics on ice climbing use in Hyalite Canyon. The more climbers take the survey, the more accurate and effective the data will be.
Black Cliffs, Boise, ID
By Brian Fedigan
The Cliffs subdivision, above the Black Cliffs in Boise was approved by the county commissioners. The Cliffs will place approximately 1,400 new homes above Boises most popular crag.
The developer owns an extremely popular climbing area; known locally as Car Body Canyon and has expressed an interest in keeping this climbing area open to climbing. The Boise Climbers Alliance continues negoiations with the developers attempting to obtain a conservation easement for Car Body.
Cave Rock Update, NV
Cave Rock Lawsuit Scheduled for Oral Arguments at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
After waiting 1 years, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently announced that the court will hear oral arguments in the Access Fund lawsuit that seeks to reopen climbing at Cave Rock, a popular and important climbing area on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada.
On February 15 in San Francisco the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear 20 minute oral arguments each from the Access Fund and attorneys representing the US Forest Service. Stay tuned for any additional announcements.
In the meantime, the Cave Rock climbing ban remains in place, and it is critical that climbers continue to respect the climbing closure while we work our way through the courts. Violating the climbing closure will only harm our case in court and reduce the chances of climbing at Cave Rock in the future.
For more information see Cave Rock Background or contact Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith at Jason@accessfund.org.
Farley Ledge, MA
Cash for a Closing Peregrines Return - Vandalized Again
The WMCC is approaching a milestone event in its efforts to secure permanent access to some of the finest climbing and bouldering in southern New England. Soon representatives of the WMCC will attend a property closing with sufficient financial resources in hand to acquire a 9-acre parcel of property adjacent to the base of Farley Ledge in Erving, MA. The purchase of the property will allow the WMCC to restrict development at the base of the crag, establish a new parking area and provide unfettered access to the excellent climbing and hiking options.
To date the WMCC has raised over $55,000. The donations have come from a variety of sources including local climbers and businesses as well as regional and national organizations. A special thanks goes out to the Access Fund who provided a substantial grant and to the AMC for critical support to meet financial requirements at the closing.
The fundraising continues. The WMCC needs money to build the parking area and repay loans. Your help is needed now. There are currently five different challenge grants we are working on. For more information or to make a donation visit our website at www.westernmacc.com.
In other news, Peregrine Falcons made a late appearance this season. A pair of birds was discovered in early April on the Yellow Wall area. Local climbers are respecting the closure of this area until further notice. The WMCC asks all visiting climbers to do the same.
Lastly, in what has become an unfortunate seasonal event over 50 bolts plus an additional 15 anchor bolts were found vandalized at Farley Ledge during the week of April 1. All hardware was either stolen or hammered useless damaging 6 established routes. The action was taken at night or on a wet/cold weather day. No individual(s) has taken responsibility. If anyone has any information on the individual(s) that committed this act please contact the WMCC at email@example.com.
Governor Stable Closure
Since initiating the recreational lease of the Governor Stable property, the Pennsylvania Alliance of Climbers has been acutely aware that we were entering into a temporary, year-by-year arrangement with the landowner in order to allow climbing access. Due to concerns of the landowner, he has chosen not to renew the lease upon its expiration.
Citing concerns of impact to the deer population and the general environment of the property as a result of the increasing number of climbers visiting the boulders, the landowner feels that ending the lease is in the best interest of his family and their property.
While all of us at the Pennsylvania Alliance of Climbers are disappointed by this development, we support the landowner's decision. As a result, there will be no Governor Stable Bouldering Competition in 2007, and access to the boulders will cease on March 1, 2007.
While it is a loss to the climbing community to no longer have access to GS, we must remember the five successful years that we have worked with the landowner to promote the climbing there. We extend our deepest gratitude to the owners of Governor Stable for the time that they have given us to enjoy their wonderful property.
The Pennsylvania Alliance of Climbers will continue to stay in contact with the Governor Stable landowner in the event that his family's wishes change in the future.
Any questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human Waste Management on the Whitney Trail, CA
By Garry Oye, District Ranger, White Mountain & Mount Whitney Ranger Districts Inyo National Forest.
In 1873 John Muir climbed Mount Whitney. Over 100 years later, the Whitney Trail cuts through a place we now call the John Muir Wilderness. It has become one of the most popular wildernesses in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Each year 16,000 people attempt to climb and summit Mt. Whitney at an elevation of 14,497 feet above sea level.
With all of these climbers comes the challenge of what to do with their human waste. Toilets have been in place along the trail since the 1960s. Despite several renovations and retro-fits, the dehydrating toilets never functioned very well. A helicopter was needed to fly 4,000 pounds of human waste out each year. Helicopters and toilet buildings compromise the areas wilderness character.
In 2004, a voluntary pack-out program was instituted. Climbers were asked to pack their human waste to Whitney Portal Trailhead using pack-out kits.
In 2006, Whitney climbers voluntarily packed 3,600 pounds of their human waste out to the trailhead. With the success of this pack out program, there is now a safe and sanitary way for each individual to deal with their own human waste.
In late November of this year Forest Service rangers removed the toilet at Outpost Camp. Earlier in the summer, Park Service rangers removed the toilet near the summit. Forest Service rangers plan to remove the Trail Camp toilet in 2007 and require all climbers to pack their waste to the trailhead.
I want to thank the Whitney climbers and rangers for helping find a solution to the human waste challenge. I think we now have a system that is workable for today as well as into the future, said District Ranger Garry Oye.
For more information please contact Garry Oye at (760) 873-2464.
Editors note: the success of the Indian Creek Wag Bag Movementstarted by the Access Fund and continues to be managed by the AF Affiliate, Friends of Indian Creekincludes self serve distribution of human waste bags at kiosks around the park.
This program is applicable across the nation at various climbing areas. For more information, contact Jason Keith, Access Fund Policy Director at Jason@accessfund.org.
The Access Fund encourages the use of human waste bags when toilets are not available. They are a sanitary, no mess, no smell solution that are easy to use and pack out.
AF Corporate Partner RESTOP manufactures the bags and sells them online www.restop.com. Metolius, Mountain Gear, and REI also carry similar human waste systems.
Nelson Rocks, WV
By Thomson Ling, AF Regional Coordinator
For those in the DC area interested in the discussing the recent real estate listing of Nelson Rocks, WV please attend a meeting from 5-7pm on Saturday, January 27th. The local REI at Bailey's Crossroads (3509 Carlin Springs Rd Bailey's Crossroads, VA 22041) has generously offered to donate a room. The agenda is to discuss potential options to ensure that Nelson Rocks moves to climber-friendly hands.
Different tools that can be used to preserve climbing areas in perpetuity
The pros and cons of fee simple acquisition
Liability of owning, managing, or holding an easement on land
Fundraising and how other groups have done it
Partnerships that have worked in the past for AF and local climbing orgs.
Nelson Rocks is an amazing place with lots of great climbing history and lots of really good climbing on solid stone, some of the best in the area. It is one of several large eruptions (southern most) of Tuscarora sandstone out of a long ridge that runs over 30 miles north towards Petersburg, WV.
For information please contact Thomson Ling at: email@example.com
North Idaho Report
By Rex Mundo
2007 promises to be a busy year with great challenges and opportunities. The Kootenai Klimbers and the North Idaho College outdoor pursuits program continue with the Adopt-A-Crag effort. The success of this work has revealed to the City of Post Falls the climbing community's positive impact on conservation, preservation, environmental awareness and the all-important tourist dollar. The timing is excellent because the city has acquired 60 acres of additional parkland on the river that has great potential for bouldering and mountain biking. There is also a route-free wall of beautiful granite.
There is also another city property of approximately 20 acres that the city is developing into parkland. It is an environmental oasis right downtown that goes to the river. Rusty Baillie, myself and a city park representative toured the area and found a primo bouldering wall over 300 feet long with near-perfect landing all along the base with easy topout from 10-18 ft. More about this later.
We also are continuing our on-going discussions with Avista Power Company to allow continued use of climbing/bouldering areas on Avista property adjacent to the dam/Q'Emiln Park climbing area. The dam is currently going thru the relicensing process. Once the license is renewed, they'll have it for 30-50 years and access issues may arise.
As Rusty Baillie stated in past reports, possibly the best wall in the area is just out of the boundary of Q'Emiln Park. The Klimbers are working with the city and others in the Spokane Climbing community to acquire this valuable resource before it's gone.
Off-trail permits for Climbing in Boulder, CO
By Tom Isaacson, President Flatirons Climbers Coalition
Effective February 1, 2007, climbers will need a permit to reach certain boulders and crags with the City of Boulder's Open Space. The effected areas are: Cryptic Crag, Adam's Spire, all of the Metaphysical boulders, and certain boulders west of the Sacred Cliffs.
Other restrictions will also apply to climbers. To get more information visit www.FlatironsClimbing.com or www.openspace.ci.boulder.co.us
Applications for off-trail permits, which are good for one day, may be obtained through the above open space website or at the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage. Further details on the rules will become available soon, as will possible changes to the areas requiring a permit. Please cooperate with this program and encourage others to do so.
The permits are free. Getting caught without one is a $100 per person fine. Also, it is important to show the land managers that climbers will observe the existing rules and that harsher rules are not needed. Additional rules also apply to hiking to non-climbing destinations and walking with your dog off-trail. You can post questions on the Flatirons Climbing website.
Skaha Bluffs Access Closure, BC
Skaha Bluffs are a very popular group of crags near Penticton in southern B.C. (www.skaha.org). For many years, climbers have depended on the kindness of the Dunlop family, owner of Braesyde Farms, for the only access to Skaha. Braesyde is being sold in April 2007.
Parking at Braesyde, and access to Skaha from there, is now closed. All possible alternatives for parking and access involve acquisition or at least use of private land. Considerable money is likely to be needed to implement any alternative.
Skaha rockclimbers are working hard on finding a solution, with the effort being led by The Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC - www.conservancy.bc.ca), and support from Mountain Equipment Co-op (www.mec.ca), the Climbers Access Society of B.C. (CASBC - www.access-society.ca), and others. A task force including climbers, representatives from the city and the province, TLC, and other interested parties has been formed.
It is hoped that there will be at least a short-term solution for spring 2007, although a permanent solution may take longer.
In the meantime, keep informed, and pass the news on to your friends. Be patient - it's possible that a solution won't quite be in place by the start of the spring climbing season. When or if there's a need to write letters and e-mails, make phone calls, or attend meetings, it'll be publicized at www.skahabluffs.blog.com
See www.skahabluffs.blog.com for full information and updates.
Williamson Rock, CA Closure Update
By Troy Mayr, Access Fund Board of Directors, President Friends of Williamson Rock.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is preparing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the USFS and FoWR. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a document describing a bilateral agreement between parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action, rather than a legal commitment.
Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) will present the USFS a draft scoping letter pursuant to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This letter will describe the proposed action regarding the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the long-term management of Williamson Rock and the potential for reopening access to climbing activities. The following proposed alternatives shall be included:
Dry Season Only Access (No flowing water in stream) - Preferred alternative includes monitoring and maintenance, enforcement of seasonal closure, signage, human waste management and parking controls.
Restricted activity under limited conditions
No project alternative - Return to conditions prior to closure (not a viable option)
The no project alternative is included in the document to serve as a baseline for other alternatives and is required of all NEPA documents. In the EA, the potential impacts for each alternative must be analyzed. The no project alternative states what the condition or environmental impacts would be in the event the proposed project is not carried out.
The scoping process will include an internal USFS review followed by a 30-day public scoping period.
As previously stated, the process is required to allow the potential re-opening of Williamson Rock, which has been closed to public access due to designation of critical habitat for the mountain yellow legged frog. Throughout the course of this lengthy NEPA and Endangered Species Act consultation ongoing closure of Williamson Rock should be anticipated and the climbing community should actively discourage its use to maintain current agency/FoWR relations.
FoWR expects this process to result in ongoing dialog with the USFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the general public - resulting in a plan that meets the needs of all concerned within the parameters of NEPA, Forest Service Guidelines and the Federal Endangered Species Act. This will also further the intent of FoWR to move forward with the NEPA process and maintain cooperative relations with the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
We strongly encourage you to join the FoWR mailing list by visiting www.williamsonrock.org
Your Voice Needed To Keep Madrone Wall Project Moving Forward, OR
By Keith K. Daellenbach, Madrone Wall Preservation Committee
In January, 2006 the Board of County Commissioners unanimously accepted the Clackamas County Parks Advisory Board (PAB) recommendations that the Hardscrabble property (a.k.a. Madrone Wall) become part of the Clackamas River Watershed Protection and not be sold to a private interest or mined. At Decembers PAB meeting, a list of park planning items was distributed and this will be evaluated and re-prioritized at the January and February PAB meetings. On this list under General Parks - Miscellaneous was an itemization of $40,000 for parks master planning at Hardscrabble.
At the 16 January and 20 February 2007 PAB meetings, park planning items in the five year parks plan will be re-evaluated and re-prioritized. Please take this opportunity to register your support for this park creation project by contacting the Board of County Commissioners firstname.lastname@example.org and urge them to take the next stepparks master planning for the Hardscrabble/Madrone Wall site located 2.2 miles east of Carver along County Scenic Highway 224. Please continue to respect Clackamas Countys No Trespassing posting at the Madrone Wall.
Updates are regularly posted on our www.savemadrone.org website.
Access NJ Update
By John Anderson, President
Access NJ website has been down for the past 2-3 months and we apologize for the inconvenience. Please be patient and if you are interested in donating web skills to update and improve the site (www.climbnj.com) please contact John Anderson at email@example.com. Please note that this is also the new general email address for Access NJ.
Access NJ continues discussions with staff and administration of Hunterdon County Park System over the last 3 months. We are seeking volunteers to present further information. Access NJs goal is to have the climbing community adopt (per Hunterdon County's own, new, regulations) the Sourland Bouldering Site. Contact John Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Boone Climbers Coalition Update NC
By Anthony Love, President
The Boone Climbers Coalition (BCC) had another active fall and winter season. We have re-strengthened our relationship with the National Park Service, our Access Fund Board Members and officers, and most importantly our membership.
One of the BCC members, Zachary Lesch-Huie, offered us a unique opportunity to work with the American Chestnut Foundation and the Blue Ridge Parkway to help a project to restore chestnut tree populations. American Chestnut Foundation scientist, Paul Cisco worked with BCC members to collect burrs, which contain Chestnut seeds, from trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway and on Grandmother Mountain. The seeds collected during this project will be used to develop a hybrid strain on chestnut tree that resists the chestnut blight, a disease that is responsible for nearly wiping out this species. The American Chestnut Foundation will reintroduce these hybrids in areas throughout the US in an effort to restore chestnut tree populations.
This year the BCC hosted their annual Adopt-a-Crag event at Hawksbill within the Linville Gorge Wilderness. The trail to approach Hawksbill follows a steep grade that is constantly under attack from erosion. Twelve members helped build water bars on the existing trail and brush-in sections of spider trails up to the main cliffs at Hawksbill.
Shortly after the Adopt-a-Crag, the BCC had another record turn-out for their third annual Sudz and Slidez event at the Black Cat Burrito. The Sudz and Slidez events have been the most effective way to get members of our community together. These events have been great venues for our meetings and fundraisers. This fall, we were lucky enough to have Access Fund Ambassador Jason Kehl give a presentation. Jason entertained a crowd of 115 people with a slideshow from his most recent trip to Japan. Jason and our many sponsors made this another incredibly successful and fun event for everyone.
News from the Blue Ridge Parkway: The BCC provided comments to a newly proposed plan to develop a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway known as the Moses Cone Memorial Park. The Blowing Rock Boulders lie within the Moses Cone Memorial Park. This plan provides for the enhancement of cultural learning in the park, but also offered closure of this important climbing resource as one alternative they could consider. While some of the proposed alternatives do pose threats to the Blowing Rock Boulders, there are also other alternatives that offer the enhancement of trails into the boulderfield and continuation of bouldering activity.
The Park Service has sought public input to this plan and the BCC has been adamant about getting the local and regional climbing community to provide this necessary input. We look forward to seeing what the next round of planning produces and feel confident a balanced plan that includes climbing can be achieved.
In other news, members of the BCC were invited to attend the Annual Board Meeting of the Access Fund this fall in Lake Lure North Carolina. The experience proved once again to be valuable and educational for all involved. The opportunity to sit down and talk face to face with the board and staff is a great asset for both the BCC as well as the Carolina Climbers Coalition who were generous enough to host us.
For more info about the Boone Climbers Coalition and to join our email list, please visit www.ncbouldering.com/BCC.htm
Carolina Climbers Coalition, NC Update
By Anthony Love, CCC Vice President
Last year was a grand one for the CCC. Some of our accomplishments include: assisting in the inclusion of Rumbling Bald into Hickory Nut State Park (a new North Carolina state park), purchasing 50 acres, (which includes Laurel Knob the highest rock face in the eastern United States) and, opening Laurel Knob for public climbing. Funds for the purchase came through worldwide donations, contributions from the outdoor industry, and the financial and resource support of the Access Fund.
All this activity was primarily due to the efforts of John Myers and Sean Cobourn. John is a former board member of the Access Fund and a significant contributor to the Laurel Knob Project. Sean Cobourn, a founding Director of the Access Fund and current AF Regional Coordinator, boldly led the CCC into a new era as an organization, planned and facilitated the acquisition of the legendary Laurel Knob. Seans motivation, drive and vision transformed the CCC from a small grassroots organization into a visible and respected climbing non-profit organization. As a tribute, the Access Fund awarded Sean the prestigious Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award as testament to his climbing advocacy. The CCC is especially indebted to the incredible efforts and accomplishments of John Myers and Sean Cobourn.
The CCC held officer elections at our annual meeting during the Hound Ears event of the Triple Crown Bouldering Competition. CCC officers include Sean Barb, President; Anthony Love, Vice President; Edward Medina, Secretary; and Aram Attarian, treasurer. In addition the new officers have appointed a board to oversee and provide support in business matters. The new officers are excited about the challenges and opportunities on the road ahead.
The new officers hit the ground running with the creation of a Climbing Management Plan for Laurel Knob (for more info please visit www.carolinaclimbers.org), implementation of a new system to manage membership, and their continued efforts to open the Asheboro Boulders to climbers.
Once again, I am proud to say Laurel Knob is OPEN! The CCC has a comprehensive management plan in its FINAL stages of revision and implementation. During this time and since its opening, the CCC has come up with a general set of guidelines for public use at Laurel Knob. These are posted at Laurel Knob on the climbers kiosk, and on the CCC website (www.carolinaclimbers.org). We encourage all climbers to visit and enjoy this incredible resource, but would like to remind all to please respect the guidelines created for its use.
Closure Threat Becomes Reality at Torrent Falls, KY
By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
In response to continued disrespectful behavior by some climbers, the owners of Torrent Falls, a popular Red River Gorge crag, have decided to close the area to unrestricted climbing.
Guests renting a cabin at Torrent Falls resort may still climb on the property. This closure was announced and made effective on Friday, November 24, 2006.
When the closure was first threatened earlier this spring, the RRGCC convinced the owners to write a set of rules and give climbers a chance to show that they could follow them. Unfortunately not all climbers were following the rules.
Recent flagrant incidents cited by the owners in explaining their reasons for moving forward with the closure included someone who leashed their dog to a No Dogs Allowed sign. Another disturbing incident occurred when the owners were showing close friends around their property and came across a woman urinating out in the open despite the fact that the owners have provided a port-o-let for use by climbers.
In addition to the Torrent rules having been posted in the parking area as well as the RRGCC kiosk at Miguels, the rules and the tenuous situation at Torrent was made widely known to the climbing community on various websites, in the Access Fund e-news, and in the RRGCC newsletter.
All indications are that 2006 was the busiest season yet for the Red River Gorge. While the RRGCC will look at ways to improve climber education about access issues during its planning for 2007, we are somewhat at a loss as to how to deal with climbers who blatantly disregarded very simple and common sense behavioral guidelines that could have kept Torrent open.
We ask that climbers please respect the tough decision made by Mark and Kathy Meyer to discontinue open climbing access at Torrent. Also please remember that disrespectful behavior and failure to follow rules at any climbing area in Red River Gorge, whether on private or public land, has the potential to negatively affect access.
Know whose property you are climbing on and what is expected of you as a guest on that property. Detailed information on the various areas and guidelines are readily available in Ray Ellingtons Red River Gorge guidebook.
Kootenai Klimbers Update, ID
By Rusty Baille, President
The Kootenai Klimbers are strategizing on how to open up Outlaw Wall near Post Falls, Idaho. This is the finest cliff in our area with 100 hundred feet of solid granite-gneiss climbing but, alas, it sits on private land. There are several semi-completed routes on The Outlaw and early climbers had tacit permission to climb here. With an increase in climbing pressure, and most local landowners rushing to develop their holdings into housing estates, we need to speak now - or forever lose this great crag.
In the Spring of 2007 we will form a group to work on access. This group will be led by one of the climbing activists who did such an impressive job of acquiring Big Rock part of the Rocks of Sharon, just south of Spokane WA.
Our second initiative is to clean up and legitimize our boulders. This project is being inspired by Jason Baker who grew up around here and knows all the secret spots. If theres a chalk smear on an impossible hold way up there, especially if the landing is interesting, its probably his!
Bouldering in the Pacific Northwest is rather like organic gardening. Whoever said that mosses and lichens take thousands of years to grow should check out our local varieties! While such biotica could perhaps help rehabilitate more stricken ecosystems, it makes rocksports here impossibly slimy. The solution (hopefully) is to work closely with the land managers to designate key areas as biological preserves and viewsites while identifying good bouldering that can be reasonably and legitimately cleaned for climbing. Maybe then I can get my moneys worth from my new super-thick, super-wide bouldering pad!