Action Alert: Shenandoah National Park

We need your help to support reasonable climbing management at Shenandoah National Park (SHEN).

The Park recently released a Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP) to direct how it will allow access to the various rock outcrops within the Park. The Access Fund, Mid-Atlantic Climbers, and New River Alliance of Climbers reviewed the ROMP and are in support of the management direction in Alternative B, subject to a few concerns outlined below.

  • Rock outcrops compose only 2% (3,920 acres) of the SHEN’s entire 197,438 acres. It is important to emphasize that other activities, such as hiking, camping, and vista enjoyment draw far more people and cause far more impacts than climbers. As stated in the ROMP, Old Rag is visited by an estimated 50,000 people annually, but the number of climber use-days for all of SHEN is estimated at only 500. 
  • While the ROMP provides general information about the impacts causing concern, more information should be provided about the specific impacts at each rock outcrop where restrictions are in place or being considered. For instance, climbing at Hawksbill is prohibited, but the concerns leading to the climbing ban are not fully explained. More detailed information should be provided to further explain the need for restrictions.
  • Because climbers make up only a small percentage of rock outcrops users, the Park should consider if some climbing access can be allowed (even if other user groups are restricted or otherwise more directly managed) before restricting access to specific rock outcrops (especially those on the “watch list”). Park planners should consider ways to protect the natural resources without prohibiting access to climbers completely.

We need your help to support climbers’ interests at SHEN. Please take action by submitting your comments to the ROMP by this Saturday January 12, 2013.

Please contact R.D. Pascoe, Access Fund Policy Director at rd@accessfund.org with any questions.