Portland Climber Activist Summit a Success, OR

By Kellie Rice, Access Fund Regional Coordinator-Oregon

On February 1 and 2, over two dozen climbers and land managers from Oregon and Washington participated at a summit focused on climbing access and conservation issues. The mission of the summit was to create a forum where climbers and land managers could openly discuss the management of recreational climbing on public lands.

Participants included land managers from North Cascades National Park, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington State Parks, and various U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agencies in Oregon. Climbers from both states included members of the Washington Climbers Coalition, the Smith Rock Group, Mazamas, as well as current and past Access Fund Regional Coordinators for both states. AF Policy Director Jason Keith also attended.

There were several presentations during this two day Summit: Bob Sallinger with the Portland Audubon Society, Mike Gauthier with Mt Rainier National Park, Kathleen Walker and Maryellen Fitzgerald with Mt Hood National Forest, Ian Caldwell with the Smith Rock Group, and Keith Daellenbach with the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee. Sarah Madsen, a Regional Biologist with the USFS, and Russell Holmes, a Regional Botanist, helped lead a panel discussion with Bob Sallinger about sensitive plants and threatened and endangered species in the Pacific Northwest.

Climbers and land managers discussed several issues of importance, including climbing fees, route development, management plans, Native lands, and wildlife issues. Land managers cited instances of positive communication with climbers, as well as suggested areas for improvement. One communication issue was the lack of information for climbers about sensitive plants and animals related to closures and restrictions. USFS agreed that such information could be posted on their website for specific regions to educate various recreational user-groups about why some areas need to be protected. Another topic of discussion concerned peregrine falcons at Beacon Rock. The current ranger at Beacon Rock stated that because of climber involvement with monitoring, Beacon Rock has opened early for the last three years instead of the projected July 15 opening date.

Thanks goes out to Nikes Rock Gym for their support in this event. Attendees felt that the discussions were positive and that similar climbing summits would be beneficial to keeping the lines of communication open in the future.