Climbers Working to Preserve Climbing Access at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK

By Aaron Gibson, WMCC Board Member/AF Regional Coordinator

The Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC) is working to ensure that the Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and compatibility review process being conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Refuge Service will not adversely affect the long-standing tradition of rock climbing in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR) of Oklahoma.

Board members of the WMCC have met with the WMWR Refuge manager and Refuge personnel on several occasions to discuss the upcoming review.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) both issued written responses to the National Director of the USFWS, Dale Hall, clearly stating their concerns about the compatibility review and their support for continuation of rock climbing in the Refuge.

The Wichitas, as they are commonly known, offers a unique wilderness climbing experience that is unmatched by any other area in the Midwest. Climbers went through a similar struggle in the early 90s and, upon organizing, were successful in protecting the tradition of climbing in the Refuge. Since that time the WMCC has maintained a healthy working relationship with the Refuge personnel in managing climbing activities.

The CCP process is expected to begin sometime this year and the WMCC anticipates being a key partner. For more information see http://wichitamountains.org/ or email aaron@fusionfortyseven.com.