Forest Service Plan Could Ban New Bolts in Inyo Wilderness—Access Fund Appeals

10/25/2018

Access Fund is pushing back against a troubling last-minute addition to the Inyo National Forest Plan that could prohibit new bolts in Wilderness areas. Inyo National Forest is home to iconic climbing outside Bishop, California as well as some of the best alpine adventures in the country, including climbing at Mt. Conness, Temple Crag, Mt. Russell, and many other Sierra Nevada gems.


Photo courtesy of © Jerry Dodrill

For the last five years, Inyo National Forest has been working to update its forest management plan, which is a plan that governs all activities that take place in the forest, including climbing. Access Fund has been deeply engaged in the forest planning revision, and we were on track for a great outcome for the climbing community.

However, when Inyo National Forest issued its final plan earlier this month, Access Fund recognized a section that had been inserted into the analysis section of the final draft, prohibiting new fixed anchors in Wilderness. This added provision was not part of any of the draft management plans, and was never studied or opened to public comment as the law requires. This provision would prohibit climbers from hand-drilling fixed anchors to open new backcountry routes throughout the Sierra Nevada Wilderness.

Access Fund submitted a formal appeal in objection of this new language on the grounds that the planning process never analysed the effects of a wilderness fixed anchor prohibition and therefore the regulation cannot be added into the final draft. The US Forest Service received our appeal, and we are awaiting their final decision on this important issue.

“It is essential that we correct the overly restrictive language in the Inyo National Forest Plan, as it could have national-level ramifications and set a bad precedent regarding fixed anchor management in Wilderness,” says Katie Goodwin, Policy Analyst and California Regional Director for Access Fund.

Over 30 percent of America’s climbing areas are located on US National Forests. It is essential that the climbing community participate in these forest planning processes, as they can determine how our climbing areas are managed for decades. Inyo National Forest is one of the early adopters of the US Forest Service’s new 2012 Planning Rule, which is an updated process for how forest plans are developed. Fixed anchor restrictions in the Inyo Forest Plan would set a dangerous national precedent for other forest plan revisions.

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