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Cochise Stronghold & Wilderness Designation
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By Guy Keesee
From Moorpark, CA
Jul 19, 2014
Big Boulder, just a bit downhill from Temple of Ka...
JB7 wrote:
I guess the only thing that bothers me about the wilderness designation is the uncertainty, and current lack of a definitive management policies/plan.


My thoughts exactly..... once the place becomes "wilderness" we, climbers, will most likely loose out on what we have.

Its not about bolts, its about access. Once wilderness-all sorts of "stupid" new rules
will be enacted.

Things like "no more than 30 people per day will allowed in- we will hold a lottery to select the lucky 30.... one year in advance".... that is typical FEDERAL rule making.

I do always shake my head at the idea of making a place "WILDERNESS" when in fact it is not, like Josh Tree.... 100 feet from a road is the wilderness.

Its just a power grab by the FEDS, nothing more.

I hope the good citizens of Arizona say NO.

FLAG
By manuel rangel
From Tempe, Arizona
Jul 20, 2014
I agree with you Guy, but you should take action and email the Coronado Forest supervisor to let him know that you are one of the many climbers that wants to keep it open as it is.

If you need the link: accessfund.org/c.tmL5KhNWLrH/b...

The Wilderness designation has been made popular by the many votes that poured in from the Wilderness Society. Let's join the fray amigo.

FLAG
By cochiseclimbing
Jul 20, 2014
My favorite place
"There are only four land use zones on the Coronado National Forest: wild backcountry, roaded backcountry, developed recreation, and motorized recreation." Wilderness designation is a federal designation that needs to be passed by congress. It is law, no changes. The designation determines how the land will be managed.

The Forest Service handles the management of Wilderness areas. The forest service manual is currently be re-written and will include how they manage climbing in Wilderness areas. The impression of the Access Fund is that restrictions on climbers will be tightening beyond the prohibited use of power drills. Drills are no longer the issue.

How do you feel about the new application process and fee required to just start thinking about putting up a new route at Bubbs Creek Wall 14 miles in the backcountry? Please see the new Kings Canyon Sequoia Management plan.

There are lots of "personal" assumptions about how the Forest Service handles climbing areas across the country.

We all want to preserve the environment and protect the Stronghold from development. Especially, major issues like mining, logging, OHV travel. The land use designation of wild backcountry does that without the restrictions on the single biggest user group- climbers. The proposed wilderness map area is a very "cherry stemmed" central area created to qualify for designation. Meaning the proposed area selectively eliminates private land sections (there are private homes 0.1 miles from the proposed wilderness border), and current roads but really does not protect areas that are currently experiencing high use and seeing the highest environmental changes. It will not reduce the horse camps that are expanding on the west side or the amount of OHV traffic.

My greatest fear is the future of climbing in 20 years if the forest service supervisor, at the time, decides that there will be no fixed hardware in the Stronghold. That means no "Days of Future Past" or "Isle of You". **Fixed hardware, regardless of the climbs "style", would be seem the same in the eyes of Wilderness law.** This also means no anchor replacements as they age. The nature of the rock in the Stronghold (Domes) mostly requires fixed hardware at some point or to get off.

Please see the trial S. McNamara listed above //"At trial Coronado took the position any fixed anchors anywhere in the Coronado are illegal. In other words, if they had won that case and this became their position then, it would have spelled the end of any legal fixed anchors anywhere in S. Arizona. "//
  • *This was not even in Wilderness. It would have been the end of fixed hardware.**

This may seem extreme and alarmist, but please see the examples below that prove it is happening across the country.

Most of us will not be climbing in 20 years but please allow future generations to experience the same adventures we do today. Regardless of the "style" you climb, we have all clipped fixed hardware. Please remember, parts of Mt Lemmon, or maybe even your local crag, are in wilderness already, things could change there, this is not just about the Stronghold. What we do as a climbing community at this time will also influence how our voice will be heard in the future, lets be smart, please take action.

"An article by Alpinist on 6/10/2010 stated that “[The National Park Service plan for Christmas Tree Pass] would be the first to not only ban, but also require the removal of fixed anchors.” –alpinist.com/doc/web10s/newswi...

A notice by the National Park Service on 01/21/2014 “Regarding rock climbing management for alternatives B and C in the Draft Wilderness Management Plan/EIS [in Lake Mead National Recreation Area]... In Bridge Canyon Wilderness no new fixed anchors or fixed equipment would be permitted, with the exception of permitted replacement anchors.” –federalregister.gov/articles/2...

The Mt. Charleston Wilderness Management Plan stated in January of 2013 that “In the Proposed Action, new fixed anchor routes would be prohibited by both the FS and the BLM and the replacement of permanent fixed anchors on existing routes would be evaluated for their appropriateness in Wilderness through a special use permit process.”…” Current recreational activities that involve rock climbing would continue in Mt. Charleston Wilderness; however, there is not expected to be an increase in future “sport climbing” activities, which would be curbed due to the prohibition on new “fixed anchor routes.”” –docs.google.com/file/d/0B7-K8P...

There is a precedent of a misinterpretation of federal regulation in wilderness areas. Here is part of an Access Fund response to the North Cascades National Park fixed anchor (bolt) moratorium “The Access Fund is concerned that the North Cascades National Park fixed anchor (bolt) moratorium is incongruous with national policy, based on misinterpretation of federal regulation, unnecessarily compromises wilderness climber safety, and negatively affects wilderness use-patterns. We believe that some level of fixed anchor (bolt) use must be allowed wherever climbing is allowed, and that the appropriate level of use should be established on an area-by-area basis.” docs.google.com/file/d/0B7-K8P...

FLAG
By Peter nichols
Nov 19, 2014
Sooooo goooood.
any update on any of this?

thanks,
peter

FLAG
By Shannon KM
Nov 19, 2014
SACC has signed onto a letter with Access Fund, Outdoor Alliance, IMBA, Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists, NOLS, Wilderness Society, Sky Island Alliance, and Arizona Wilderness Coalition to support a modified map that supports wilderness with large exclusionary zones that encompass the majority of bolt intensive climbs. This letter was sent to Supervisor Upchurch and we received a favorable response: ..." what you and the others have done represents the highest level of public stewardship and collaboration. You have successfully brought this community of interest, that has differing opinions on what should eventually be designated wilderness together, and submitted an alternative that we can now work with."...

Here are links to the maps of the
Dragoons
and
Whetstones
and the
Letter

We are currently waiting on the Forest Service recommendation. We should know by early 2015.

FLAG
By Alex McIntyre
From Tucson, AZ
Nov 19, 2014
In the traverse section, double rainbow in the bac...
Shannon KM wrote:
SACC has signed onto a letter with Access Fund, Outdoor Alliance, IMBA, Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists, NOLS, Wilderness Society, Sky Island Alliance, and Arizona Wilderness Coalition to support a modified map that supports wilderness with large exclusionary zones that encompass the majority of bolt intensive climbs. This letter was sent to Supervisor Upchurch and we received a favorable response: ..." what you and the others have done represents the highest level of public stewardship and collaboration. You have successfully brought this community of interest, that has differing opinions on what should eventually be designated wilderness together, and submitted an alternative that we can now work with."... Here are links to the maps of the Dragoons and Whetstones and the Letter We are currently waiting on the Forest Service recommendation. We should know by early 2015.

EDIT: I stand corrected re: the email with the maps & letter- it was in my spam folder.

I would also like to see the locations of major climbing areas marked on the PWA maps, as I am not familiar enough with the geography of the Stronghold to understand what crags will and will not be affected by the proposed changes.

FLAG
By Shannon KM
Nov 19, 2014
We sent out an email containing the letter and maps on November 14th. Look in your spam folder if you cannot find it. Apologies if your email is not on our list, I will be sure to check that it is added.

FLAG
By Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Nov 19, 2014
Toofast
For Gmail users, check the "Social" tab - this is where my Gmail placed it by default. I didn't see the email for a couple of days because I don't often look there for incoming messages.

It's worth noting that any time I have had a question or comment, I could reach board members quickly and easily by email or phone.

FLAG
 
By Angel Mangual
From Sierra Vista, AZ
Nov 20, 2014
On the Whetstone Map, the Dry is affected by the Wilderness. Have we addressed this location too or Did we only concentrated on Cochise?

FLAG
By Alex McIntyre
From Tucson, AZ
Nov 20, 2014
In the traverse section, double rainbow in the bac...
I stand corrected in regards to the email. It somehow found its way into my spam folder. I still would like to see marks of where major crags are on the PWA maps.

Angel, is that the case? I had assumed the cherry stem coming off the right branch of 4014 encompassed the Dry. I could be totally wrong though.

FLAG
By Hendrixson
Administrator
From Tucson, AZ
Nov 20, 2014
Enjoying 'Ground Affects'.
My read of the provided map suggests that the Dry is outside the proposed Wilderness area. I could be mistaken.

FLAG
By Shannon KM
Nov 20, 2014
SACC, AF, and TWS went on a site visit to the Dry to ground truth and GPS the area. It is outside the proposed wilderness. Alex McIntyre is correct when he says "I had assumed the cherry stem coming off the right branch of 4014 encompassed the Dry." That was an intentional cherry stem following the trail and base of the crag.

FLAG
By Angel Mangual
From Sierra Vista, AZ
Nov 21, 2014
Thank you! I stand corrected.

FLAG
By Shannon KM
Nov 21, 2014
No worries. I appreciate input and comments and hope to answer any questions. On that note, I don't have a map that highlights individual crags. I'll see to creating one. Thanks for the suggestion, Alex, I think that it would be helpful for everyone.

FLAG
By bikesrockswaves
From Tucson, Arizona
Dec 5, 2014
Over Thanksgiving weekend I was briefed by our Tucson area Access Fund policy hardman, Eric Murdock, on the status & approach being pursued with respect to the Cochise wilderness, and I was very impressed with the comprehensive amount of thought, relationship development, and implementation put into this matter on our behalf by him and AF -- as well as their actions on broader fronts. I continue to be impressed by what a fine organization The Access Fund is and how much they've done on our behalf -- keeping in context both the 'big picture' and the details we seek in every unique situation. Kudos to these guys and thanks for looking out for us.

(The short version of the status was that a very strategic map was crafted, cutting away the primary climbing areas from proposed wilderness designations, and a bit more, while securing the first-time support from the Wilderness Society, which then becomes an ally in the matter, rather than an opponent, and a potential ally in some of the (many expected) future policy implmentations likely to emerge from new climbing-in-wilderness compatibility policies coming down from USFS next year. Which map may not be approved anyways, but if so, it's something we can live with and we made important friends in the process, as well establishing credibility with local USFS leadership.)

FLAG


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