Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Friends Of Allegheny Wilderness Urge Public Comments Opposing Permanent, Fixed Anchor Bolts, Pitons On Wilderness Climbing Rock Faces

Friends of Allegheny Wilderness are encouraging the public to submit comments opposing National Park Service and US Forest Service proposed policies allowing permanent, fixed anchor bolts and pitons to deface wilderness climbing rock faces.

The deadline for comments is January 30.

Rock climbing without permanent fixed anchors is generally compatible with wilderness preservation. Using removable protection like slings and chocks is also generally compatible. 

But permanent fixed climbing anchors, like bolts and pitons permanently pounded into Wilderness rock faces, diminish an area’s wild character. 

Not only are such installations lasting signs of human development, but they also attract and concentrate use—at great expense to native plants and animals for whom Wilderness is often a last, safe refuge.

Contrary to the assertions of some who oppose maintaining wilderness character, climbing in designated Wilderness areas will not come to an end without permanent fixed anchors—but defacing rock and adjacent areas will. 

Climbing in Wilderness existed long before modern methods of placing fixed anchors became prevalent and increased the ability of climbers to climb thus far virtually impossible “routes.” 

Along with the increased access provided by modern technology, use has significantly increased—so has damage to the rock and adjacent areas.

Not only that, but permanent fixed anchor use and maintenance in Wilderness is—and always has been—prohibited by the Wilderness Act’s ban on installations. 

Nonetheless, some climbing organizations champion a non-existing extant right to their installations in Wilderness, at the expense of Wilderness itself, by elevating fixed anchor climbing above existing prohibitions on activities far less permanent.

Regrettably, the NPS and USFS have listened too closely to some climbers and lobbyists for the trillion dollar a year outdoor recreation industry, and not enough to wilderness advocates. 

Both agencies have proposed new policies that attempt to legalize the use of fixed anchors in Wilderness areas administered by the NPS and USFS.

Your help is needed by January 30 to urge both agencies to uphold Tionesta, Pennsylvania native Howard Zahniser's Wilderness Act of 1964 by keeping fixed anchors out of Wilderness.

Click Here on this Wilderness Watch Action Alert to find out more details about how you can comment on these anti-Wilderness Act proposals:

For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events, and how you can get involved, visit the Friends Of Allegheny Wilderness website.  Follow them on Facebook.   Click Here to sign up for regular email updates.

Friends seeks to foster an appreciation of wilderness values and benefits, and to work with local communities to ensure that increased wilderness protection is a priority of the stewardship of the Allegheny National Forest in Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren counties.

(Photo: DCNR Blog Rock Climbing In PA State Parks, Forests.)

Related Articles:

-- DCNR: Shapiro Administration Creates Action Plan To Grow PA’s Outdoor Recreation Sector In New Report 

-- ​​DCNR Awards $793,800 To Support 3 ATV Projects; New Grant Round Opens Feb. 1  [PaEN]

[Posted: January 23, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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