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Canyons of the Ancients Draft Management Plan Comment Period, CO

By Steve Johnson, Colorados West Slope Regional Coordinator

The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (CANM) near Cortez, Colorado has released a draft Resource Management Plan. It is available for review at the following website: www.blm.gov/rmp/canm/deis.html. The draft RMP comment period ends on January 25, 2008 after several local public meetings are held.

There is some new climbing activity in CANM on weathered Dakota sandstone, mostly around Yellow Jacket Crag. These routes mostly consist of bolted face climbs; other areas are being explored and new-routed as well. The RMP preferred alternative (# 5) reportedly proposes to restrict rock climbing to unidentified designated areas, with little documentation or analysis of climbing impacts (relative to permitted oil and gas and grazing activities), to the consternation of local climbers. Public comment supportive of expanded rock climbing opportunities and freedoms, emphasizing that climbing could be expanded and also managed to avoid archeological resource impacts, may help modify the final plan.

A new climbers organization, the 4CCC (Four Corners Climbing Coalition), has formed in the Cortez/Dolores area to address the proposed CANM climbing restrictions and other regional issues, including the recent Hawkins Preserve bouldering area closure. The Hawkins Preserve is located in southern Cortez along McElmo Creek and was established to protect archaeological and natural features. It contains some fine bouldering along hard Dakota sandstone bluffs. The 4CCC is working with the Hawkins Preserve owners and The Access Fund to try to resolve liability and resource protection concerns. 4CCC is considering Access Fund affiliation and is welcoming new members. 4CCC can be contacted at: www.freewebs.com/4cornersclimbing/. For more information, contact Ivan Messinger at (970) 739.8072 or at camsticker@mac.com.

Date: 11/16/2007