The Latest in the Fight for Public Lands: July 2018

07/31/2018

Every month, Erik Murdock, Access Fund's Policy Director, sends out the latest policy news for climbers. Here's what you need to know this month:

Update on legal fight to protect Bears Ears

In December of 2017,Access Fund took a stand to protect Bears Ears National Monument and the Antiquities Act, a cornerstone conservation law that is used by presidents to establish national monuments. The fight for Bears Ears will be a long one, measured in years, not months. Here are the latest updates.

Williamson Rock could open soon after 13 year closure

Williamson Rock, Southern California’s premier summer sport climbing destination, was closed by court order in 2005 to protect the endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (MYLF). For 13 years, Access Fund and local climbing advocates have been advocating for an environmental analysis that would evaluate climbing management strategies that could allow climbing access while protecting the MYLF and raptors. Angeles National Forest is finally moving forward and has released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that proposes several options for re-opening Williamson Rock to climbing. Stay tuned for an action alert that will provide an easy way for climbers to submit comments.

Upcoming policy change means private industry will no longer be required to offset their damages to public lands

The Trump administration is planning to end a policy that currently requires oil drillers, miners, and land developers to pay the government for damages that it inflicts on recreation, cultural resources, and wildlife on public lands. This federal “compensatory mitigation” policy helped protect climbing areas, and all public lands, from industrial impacts because it mandated a fair process where private companies paid to clean up or offset environmental impacts. The integrity of climbing areas will likely suffer because compensatory mitigation is now voluntary.

Department of Interior officials ignored critical information during the national monument review that led to Bears Ears reduction

The Department of Interior accidently released documents thatindicate that senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence that national monuments boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries. These reports expose a systematic disregard for both public comments and evidence that established national monuments protect resources and benefit local economies.

Williamson Rock photo courtesy of Troy Mayr

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