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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.

Date: 10/12/2006