LAC Final Meeting Scheduled, Red River Gorge, KY


By Bill Strachan, Executive Director Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition

On Tuesday February 19, 2008 the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) process for Red River Gorge will wrap up in one final review meeting at the Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisors Office in Winchester, Kentucky. The last two LAC meetings held in January 2008 have focused on potential management actions if recreational impacts exceed LAC standards. In relation to climbing, 245 climbsites in Red River Gorge have been found to have measurable impacts but only 25 of theses sites exceed LAC standards. A climbsite is a staging area at the base of one or more climbing routes. Proposed management actions to mitigate impacts above standards include trail relocation, climbsite modifications using native materials to reduce size and erosion, and site hardening using non-native materials. Additional management actions in support of the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalitions goal to improve all climbsites include signage, education efforts, and evaluation of ways to reduce impacts even where LAC standards are not exceeded.

Undoubtedly the results of the Red River Gorge LAC process are precedent setting and not just for climbing. Throughout the process climbers have worked hard to make sure that LAC efforts to limit impacts do not at the same time limit climbing. The final results of LAC are expected to lead to a Climbing Management Plan that will provide procedures and guidelines for new routes and areas to be developed. This outcome would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of the climbers involved in almost monthly meetings over the last three years: Dwight Bradburn, RRGCC Treasurer; Shannon Stuart-Smith; past RRGCC Executive Director and Board Member; Jim Holzman, past RRGCC Board Member; Chris Carr, Recreational Ecologist; and Rita Wehner, USFS Backcountry Ranger.