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.