STATEMENT: Access Fund Responds to Proposed Closure of Climbing at Massacre Rocks

On October 26, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final Environmental Impact Statement regarding Massacre Rocks, Idaho. The decision will close climbing in the 3,846-acre American Falls Archaeological District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to protect cultural and historic resources important to the Shoshone-Bannock people. Climbers can still access extensive climbing opportunities on adjacent federal and state lands.

“As climbers, we honor and respect Indigenous people who have cared for the land since time immemorial and continue to do so today,” says Access Fund Executive Director Chris Winter. “This is a special and unique place, and we urge the climbing community to respect the decision proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.”

The BLM’s decision will result in the removal of hundreds of climbing routes. It’s a difficult situation for the climbing community, which values both sustainable access and respect for Indigenous people. Each situation is unique, and Access Fund believes climbing is largely compatible with the protection of cultural resources. Here, however, the BLM identified this land as the last remnant of pristine traditional homelands of the Shoshone, Bannock, and Paiute people on federal land, including the only federally managed village sites known to exist in traditional wintering grounds in southeastern Idaho.

“Climbing has been—and will continue to be—an important recreational use in southeast Idaho and one that connects people to the land and promotes physical, mental, and spiritual health and well-being” Winter continues. “Access Fund is committed to building trust and community with Indigenous peoples and working to protect sustainable access for climbers across the country. We believe that shared stewardship and respect is the way to safeguard the incredible landscapes and experiences that we all treasure.”

Access Fund is a proud signatory of the Indigenous Field Guide with a long history of working with Indigenous Nations to support conservation and climbing access. In partnership with leaders representing several Tribes, Access Fund helped to protect Bears Ears National Monument and is fighting to stop a copper mine that would destroy Oak Flat—a sacred site for the San Carlos Apache. Access Fund Climber Stewards educate climbers on low-impact practices, responsible recreation, and Indigenous history. And its Conservation Teams travel the country each year rehabilitating climbing areas, an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in building sustainable trails and recreational infrastructure that protect natural and cultural resources.

Read more in our Massacre Rocks FAQ.