Protect Oregon Wilderness Climbing Access

We need your help to protect reasonable climbing access within central Oregon Wilderness areas.

Many Northwest climbers seek out high peaks in the Central Cascades throughout the summer season. The Forest Service has recently observed an influx in visitation at five Wilderness areas in the region, leading to parking congestion, social trails, undesignated campsites, human waste, and trash issues. Three of these Wilderness areas—Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters—hold iconic day-use mountaineering and climbing opportunities, like Jefferson Park Glacier, the North Ridge of Mt. Washington, and South Sister.

To address these issues, the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests have released the Central Cascades Wilderness Management Project for public comment. The draft plan outlines five alternatives (found on page 24) for managing increasing recreation and overnight use within these Wilderness areas. One alternative includes no action or changes to current management, but the other four propose quota-based fee permits for overnight users and limited entry day-use permits for specific trailheads.

Access Fund supports Alternative 4 suggestions for overnight use permits, but opposes any online fee-based system for limited entry day use permits, which would limit climber’s ability to access the Wilderness areas, create a financial and administrative burden for underserved communities, and set a negative national precedent of bypassing education, restoration, and enforcement measures when managing recreation in Wilderness areas.

We need climbers’ help to tell the Forest Service to find a more balanced and tailored management approach that can accommodate sustainable recreation opportunities alongside resource and Wilderness protection. Please take 5 minutes to submit comments to the Forest Service using our easy letter-writing tool below before May 21, 2018. Editable talking points are available on the next page; please customize your letter as much as possible.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Bowler