|By eMurdock |
From Tucson, Arizona
May 15, 2013
Scott, thanks for posting this. A couple things: 1) This is a National Park Service (not USDA Forest Service) Director's order, and 2) this is basically the same document as the proposed Director's Order from a couple years ago (I think 2011). I interpret this as a way for the NPS to assert it's philosophy on Wilderness climbing without actually imposing mandatory permitting, or other regulations, on park units. They hand the responsibility of management action to park units with climbing resources (Yosemite, JT, etc..).
Many believe that the BLM and FS will follow suit, but this document does not seem to carry much weight on the ground (yet) and has no impact on FS and BLM land. Remember, there has always been a NPS mandate to draft a Wilderness Climbing Plan for all NPS units with significant rock climbing resources in designated Wilderness (many Park units have been blowing this off for years - perhaps waiting for a Director's Order to help them design a philosophical platform). It does however reassert that climbing in a low impact style is an appropriate use of Wilderness. How could it not be - David Brower (contributor to the Wilderness Act) and John Muir were badass climbers as well as forefathers of Wilderness.
In the end, kudos to the NPS for supporting Wilderness climbing, but the agency, once again (and perhaps to the benefit of climbing advocates), pushes the responsibility of the meat and potatoes work down the line.