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Park Service Plan to Chop 200+ bolts Still on the Table for Christmas Tree Pass, NV
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By Andrew Solow
May 6, 2010

Hello Everyone,

Earlier today, I spoke with the Public Affairs Officer for Lake Mead NRA and one of the Access Fund attorneys at length.
The following is my interpretation of what I heard during these two telephone conversations:

Current Status - 5/6/2010:

In my recent conversation with Lake Mead NRA Public Affairs Officer Andrew Munoz, I learned that Andrew Munoz is a very nice person. Unfortunately, I also learned that Lake Mead NRA is refusing to withdraw their bolt chopping plan and re-write it so that Rock Climbing bolts are permitted at Christmas Tree Pass, NV.

That means that all we got out of Lake Mead NRA so far is polite conversation and an agreement to delay bolt chopping until after July 2nd.

So, the constructive ban on Rock Climbing at Christmas Tree Pass, NV is still on the table. And, we still need to submit Objections to the bolt chopping plan.

This will probably be a precedent setting case for Rock Climbing nationwide. If the NPS in the guise of the Lake Mead NRA succeeds in constructively banning Rock Climbing at Christmas Tree Pass by banning climbing bolts, you can be sure that NPS, BLM and USFS will try to ban bolted climbing in a lot of other places throughout the USA.

Lake Mead NRA: LAKE Draft Wilderness Management Plan
OFFICIAL COMMENT LINK
parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=317&projectID=16>>>

Sample Objection - previously posted on Supertopo

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – (702-293-8990)
Park Superintendent – (702-293-8920)
601 Nevada Hwy
Boulder City, NV 89005-2426
Via Fax to: 702-293-8936
Via Webform to: parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=317&projectID=16>>>

SUBJECT: Objection to LAKE Draft Wilderness Management Plan/EA - April 2010

I object to the Draft Wilderness Management Plan to the extent that it proposes:

"Climbing bolts by Willow Springs [and throughout the Lake Mead National Recreation Area] would be removed. The bolts do not receive much use, are not NPS sanctioned, and are not consistent with the area’s wilderness character."

In the Christmas Tree Pass rock climbing area, removal of all the bolts is a defacto ban on climbing and future climbing. If implemented, this proposal would also constructively ban rock climbing on smooth walls throughout the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

There is no rational basis provided (nor does one exist) for this proposal.

The statement that the bolts do not receive much use is untrue and is irrelevant in any event. As a matter of fact, bolts and other fixed climbing anchors have been updated and replaced by climbers over the years.

The fixed anchors are a minimum necessary tool for climbing in this area. In this area, fixed climbing anchors (including bolts) are necessary for safely climbing the majority of the routes. The proposed removal of the bolts is, in effect, a ban on climbing.

Many of the fixed anchors have been in place for 35+ years. They do not visually intrude on the landscape and do not affect the wilderness character in any respect.

Fixed climbing anchors are permitted and exist in many wilderness areas managed by the NPS, BLM, and USFS. This proposal is in conflict with National agency policy and unreasonably abolishes a legal, human powered, non-intrusive wilderness activity that is traditional to the area.

Studies conducted in other National Parks (e.g.: Joshua National Park) show that fixed anchors neither affect the wilderness character or visitor experience.

If climbing bolts are prohibited in Christmas Tree Pass, more than 30 multi-pitch rock climbs and many shorter climbs established in Christmas Tree Pass over the last 35 years would be rendered unclimbable. NPS must not be allowed to constructively ban rock climbing at Christmas Tree Pass just because Christmas Tree Pass does not receive as much use as Red Rocks, NV or Yosemite, CA.

Since it appears that this proposal will have a major impact on a legal wilderness activity, I find it odd that climbers and climber organizations such as the Access Fund were not consulted or permitted input into this process. As such, to the extent the Draft Plan addresses climbing, it is fatally flawed and uninformed.

The Draft Plan also gives the appearance of a deliberate attempt to clandestinely ban climbing -- with the hope that this ill-advised proposal would fly under the climbing community's radar.


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By Jordan Ramey
From Calgary, Alberta
May 6, 2010
What was left of the rack when I topped out on the last pitch of Snake Dike on Half Dome.

Comments submitted.


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By bernard
From birmingham, al
May 6, 2010
near trapps, Shawangunks, NY, 2008

This area has a National Recreation Area designation? Does this designation not allow the use of fixed anchorage, in the case of climbing, or other impositions in the environment that are coincidental with various respective recreational pursuits as long as there is not significant degradation to the resource? I thought that the NRA designation is more forgiving on this kind of issue than say, a wilderness area or perhaps national park designation. Is my thinking correct? Anyone know or have any insight?


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By Andrew Carson
From Wilson, WY
May 6, 2010
Gallatin Canyon

When you write, and every climber should kick in, be sure to ask to be kept informed of all future actions related to the proposed 'management'. After writing a week ago, I have still not received any notice whatsoever indicating they'd gotten my letter.
I am assuming, Andrew, that you have contacted the Access Fund on this issue. In any case, I'll shoot a 'fyi' over there to Jason Keith, the Policy Director. They are very likely fully aware of what's going on, but we need to cover all bases.
Can I use some really bad language now?


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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
May 6, 2010

bernard wrote:
This area has a National Recreation Area designation? Does this designation not allow the use of fixed anchorage, in the case of climbing, or other impositions in the environment that are coincidental with various respective recreational pursuits as long as there is not significant degradation to the resource? I thought that the NRA designation is more forgiving on this kind of issue than say, a wilderness area or perhaps national park designation. Is my thinking correct? Anyone know or have any insight?


This area is part of the NRA, but the plan is for large chunks of it to become Wilderness, where this new bolting ban/chopping plan would apply- this is a draft management plan for proposed wilderness areas within the Lake Mead NRA.


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By Zappatista
May 6, 2010
Book me, officer.

Comment submitted. C'mon folks, take 2 seconds and help out.


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By cammyjams
From Las Vegas, NV
May 6, 2010
Cameron in Yosemite, Monday Morning Slab 5.4

done


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By BenCooper
From Wyoming
May 6, 2010
Washer Woman and Monster Tower.

done. and bump.


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By Andrew Solow
May 7, 2010

bernard wrote:
This area has a National Recreation Area designation? Does this designation not allow the use of fixed anchorage, in the case of climbing, or other impositions in the environment that are coincidental with various respective recreational pursuits as long as there is not significant degradation to the resource? I thought that the NRA designation is more forgiving on this kind of issue than say, a wilderness area or perhaps national park designation. Is my thinking correct? Anyone know or have any insight?


The Access Fund and others are working on answering these questions. Will post again as soon as I get more information.

Another Sample Objection Letter

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – (702-293-8990)
Park Superintendent – (702-293-8920)
601 Nevada Hwy
Boulder City, NV 89005-2426
Via Fax to: 702-293-8936
Via Webform to: parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=317&projectID=16>>>

SUBJECT: Objection to LAKE Draft Wilderness Management Plan/EA - April 2010

It has come to my attention that the NPS is considering implementing a ban on the placement of fixed climbing anchors In the Lake Mead NRA - although I found no mention of this issue on their website. Furthermore, Lake Mead NRA is apparently proposing to remove 200 or more anchors that are already in place.

As an avid rock climber, mountaineer, and advocate for the preservation of wilderness, I am adamantly opposed to these proposals which will deny recreational use of public land to a sizeable community of outdoor enthusiasts without appreciable enhancement of aesthetic, historical, or environmental values or qualities.

Fixed anchors have been employed by climbers in the U.S. since the 1930's.
They were first placed by the likes of David Brower, Ansel Adams, Francis Farquahr, and others, without whose passion for climbing in wild places, we would have no Wilderness act. In fact the political activism of these early "bolters" created the foundations of enlightened land use policy today. These pioneers were convinced that recreational use of wilderness would motivate public support for preservation. They would surely have argued that the negligible impact of fixed anchors, responsibly placed, would be a small price to pay for the education and motivation of legions of future environmental stewards.

While there may be places where anchors have proliferated beyond "responsible" levels, Christmas Tree Pass is not one of them. All anchors have been placed in traditional style, ground up, and by hand. They are few and far between - much to the chagrin of inexperienced climbers. In fact, it's hard for even a trained climber to spot most of them.

To ban the placement of new anchors would be senseless enough. But removing those already in place would be the height of folly. Not only would precious funds be wasted in this effort, but the impact of such a project would be equivalent to the impact of many years of normal climber traffic. Finally, scars would remain. Even a bolt hole filled with a rock/epoxy mixture can be detected upon close examination. Would this be progress?

In conclusion, I urge you and your colleagues in the National Park Service to retract these proposals which would benefit neither the environment in the LMNRA, the climbing community, or the larger public, should these proposals be adopted in the Lake Mead NRA, or anywhere else.


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By raygay
From Las Vegas, Nevada
May 7, 2010
Cleaning gear on rappel after solo ascent of P3 on Prodigal Sun.

The following were essentially my comments to the NPS on their proposed wilderness management plan:

Climbers have no choice but to rely on bolts for safety when climbing on smooth rock walls where cracks do not provide the features necessary for temporary insertion of removable protective gear. Also, bolts are required to establish the fixed anchors at the top of each climbing pitch that are essential for the safe climbing of the majority of all rock climbing routes, whether smooth wall or crack climbing. Rock climbers rely on bolts where necessary for low-impact human-powered recreation and wilderness enjoyment.

National parks and wilderness areas throughout the United States currently allow judicious hand placement of climbing bolts. Climbing bolts of themselves do nothing to impair the wilderness setting. They are unobtrusive, inconspicuous and have no impact on native species. They do not visually intrude on the landscape and do not affect the wilderness character in any respect. Most people would be hard-pressed to even see the bolts if they did not know where to look and were not searching them out.

The proposed removal and prohibition of climbing bolts is, in effect, a ban on rock climbing. The only way the prohibition of bolts could be justified would be if you actually intended to ban the entrance of humans to these areas all together.


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By minielle
From Holladay, Utah
May 7, 2010
minielle

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Comment sent.


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
May 7, 2010
Me scaring years off my mom's life

Sent and BUMP


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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
May 7, 2010
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.

I definitely do not like the sound of this plan. I submitted my comments opposing the plan. Thanks for posting this information.


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By Andrew Solow
May 8, 2010

Christmas Tree Pass BOLT CHOPPING Update

As of Saturday, May 8th: The two primary issues for Rock Climbers are still Bolt Chopping and Native American Treaty Rights. Here's why:

On Thursday, May 6th, a local climber from Bullhead City, AZ met with a particular Lake Mead NRA Park Planner (who I believe to be the source of the bolt chopping plan) at Christmas Tree Pass, NV, took him on a tour and showed him some of the main formations and routes.

After wandering around CTP for a couple of hours, the Park Planner orally agreed that the bolts are virtually invisible and that 95% of the bolts are in the Bridge Canyon Wilderness, NOT in the Spirit Mountain Wilderness where the mountain itself is a designated cultural resource which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Based on his meeting with the Park Planner, the local climber reported that the Park Planner seems to have changed his opinion; and he no longer believes that chopping bolts at Christmas Tree Pass is a good idea.

However, the Lake Mead NRA has NOT withdrawn their bolt chopping plan. And, Lake Mead NRA has specifically told both me and one of the Access Fund attorneys that Bolt Chopping is "Still On the Table"

That local climber agreed with me that all we can do for now is keep sending in Objection letters in opposition to bolt chopping and give the Access Fund, the Las Vegas Climbers Liason Counsel (LVCLC), the local climber from Bullhead City, AZ and others a chance to consult with Lake Mead NRA and the indigenous Americans with treaty rights in the area and try to negotiate a new wilderness management "Plan" that permits rock climbing bolts.

The local climber specifically requested that we be polite so that the Lake Mead NRA personnel don't get their hackles up.

The new deadline for Objecting to the bolt chopping plan is July 1st.

Will post another update as soon as I learn anything new.

Lake Mead NRA: LAKE Draft Wilderness Management Plan
OFFICIAL COMMENT LINK
parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=317&projectID=16>>>


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By Zappatista
Jun 16, 2010
Book me, officer.

What's an update on the situation?


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By Andrew Solow
Jun 28, 2010

Last Chance to post an objection to the bolt chopping plan.


The comment period closes on Friday 07/02/2010 at 11:59 PM.



Lake Mead draft Plan Comment Link: parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=317&projectID=16>>>

The draft Lake Mead Wilderness Plan as published proposes comprehensive bolt removal and constructively bans all rock climbing in the Bridge Canyon Wilderness by banning climbing bolts which provide 95% of the leader protection in this area. No other form of leader protection is available on the featureless rock walls of Christmas Tree Pass.

Though the Lake Mead NRA has been consulting with the Access Fund about rock climbing at Christmas Tree Pass, they have refused to rescind their bolt chopping plan as published back in April 2010.

If Lake Mead NRA succeeds in perfecting their constructive rock climbing ban, places like Yosemite and Joshua Tree will be next.

Access Fund Action Alert & Comment Link: www.accessfund.org/c.tmL5KhNWLrH/b.5208267/k.8C84/Action_Cen>>>

From the Access Fund CTP Action Alert

"This wholesale removal of climbing anchors is unprecedented....."
----------------------------

There is no rational basis for this constructive rock climbing ban.
In their response to a recent FOIA request, Lake Mead NRA admitted that the Native Americans who have treaty rights in this area have not complained about the presence of climbing bolts at Christmas Tree Pass. And, as far as I know, neither has anyone else.

Don't let one irrational Park Planner ban rock climbing at Christmas Tree Pass and set a precedent for banning rock climbing nationwide. Submit your objections today!


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By Jordan Ramey
From Calgary, Alberta
Jun 28, 2010
What was left of the rack when I topped out on the last pitch of Snake Dike on Half Dome.

more comments suggested and sent.


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By Steve's sister
Apr 10, 2013

Bump.....

www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2111707/OPPOSE-the-NEW-Lake>>>


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By Adam Floyd
From Las Vegas
Apr 10, 2013
Vegas the Dog

Here is the recent Access Fund email I received about it.

Dear Adam,

We need your help to guide climbing management at Christmas Tree Pass.

The National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are currently planning for the future of eight wilderness areas in Lake Mead National Recreation Area and adjacent BLM lands, including climbing at Christmas Tree Pass. Although a draft wilderness management plan/environmental assessment was already published in April 2010, it was never approved due to concerns expressed by American Indian tribes and climbers regarding the use of the Spirit Mountain and Bridge Canyon wilderness areas (see Access Fund’s scoping comments here) www.accessfund.org/atf/cf/%7B1F5726D5-6646-4050-AA6E-C275DF6>>>

The NPS and BLM are seeking public input on the revised wilderness management plan/environmental impact statement. This is your opportunity to provide input on how climbing and the use of fixed anchors will be managed at Christmas Tree Pass. Specifically, the new plan will determine:

How rock climbing will be managed in the wilderness areas, particularly the placement or removal of fixed anchors for rock climbing activities
The amount of visitor use that should be permitted versus the level of cultural resource protection that should be provided
The appropriate use of climbing equipment (including chalk) near sensitive cultural resources (e.g., petroglyphs and pictographs)
Please review the plan and submit your comments by this Friday, April 12.

Plan to review parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=16820
Where to submit comments:
parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=317&projectID=16820>>>


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By trundlebum
From Las Vegas NV
Apr 16, 2013
Somewhere in Tuolumne, sometime early 80's

Bumpity Bump


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By NYClimber
From New York
Apr 16, 2013
Awesome slab climb right out of the water! Rogers Rock, Lake George, NY. Summer 2013.

That's stupid. Chopping existing bolts is still going to leave bolt hole scars! Better to just leave them alone at this point!

It never fails to amaze me the fuss over some bolts. While everyone wants to preserve rock and traditional values, etc. - does not the safety of people take presidence over all of this?

I'd rather see a route bolted that some someone seriously hurt or killed just because someone wants to keep a route 'clean.'

This isn't a troll posting and I am sure I will take a LOT of heat for my $.02 - but it's just IMHO.


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By LV Climbers Liaison Council
Apr 16, 2013

Hard to say exactly what will happen, but based on discussions with the Access Fund and their hard work reaching out to the Native Americans in the area, it appears we could have a compromise where climbing north of Christmas Tree Pass (Aviator Wall) would be prohibited and routes removed. It is now believed, however, that most agree that leaving existing bolts in place would cause the least amount of damage to the rock. Climbing south of Christmas Tree Pass (Dali Dome, H&R Block, Space Needle) would be allowed to continue. I know the AF continues to keep an eye on this. I understand their letter to the National Park Service on this matter will go out this week. We'll try to post the best information possible as soon as we get it.


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By cochiseclimbing
May 14, 2014
My favorite place

Could someone please update as to the status of the routes in this area? Our area is being a proposed wilderness area and we could like to know what potential regulations could be enforced there.


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By Xavier Wasiak
From Las Vegas, NV
May 15, 2014
Self Portrait

As I understand it,

-On Jan 14, NPS submitted the draft wilderness management plan and environmental impact statement.
-Public comment meetings were held on Feb 11-13 and public comments were accepted until March 23rd. -The Access Fund and LVCLC attended one of the meetings and the AF continues to have dialogue with NPS regarding the draft plan as we wait out the analysis of public comments.
-Once the analysis of public comments part of the process is completed, the NPS will prepare and eventually release their final plan/decision document to the public.
-No bolts have been removed on any routes that I am aware of and I doubt any will be without our knowledge.

It's also my understanding that depending on that final plan, the AF may appeal. If all else fails, the AF may sue. Erik Murdoch with the AF is engaged with the NPS in this effort.

My advice would be to find out, if you don't already know, who your land managers are. Start talking to them. Find out what they're thinking. If the AF is not already involved, reach out to them. If you need help, let me know.

good link:parkplanning.nps.gov/PlanProcess.cfm?projectID=16820


FLAG
 


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