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Proposed Fixed Anchor Ban at Tahquitz and Suicide


by Randy Vogel

July 28, 2004

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive


Proposed Fixed Anchor Ban in San Bernardino National Forest Wilderness Areas Deadline for Comments: August 11, 2004

A fixed anchor ban is being proposed for the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF) as part of the Southern California Land Management Plan Revision (SCLMPR) process. According to the Forest Service draft revisions to the SCLMP, “no new fixed anchors for rock climbing are allowed.” See for more general information about the SCLMPR.

The proposed ban would affect all climbing areas located in designated wilderness in the SBNF, including Tahquitz and Suicide. The ban would prohibit any new routes that require fixed anchors and would likely preclude replacing old and unsafe fixed anchors, potentially placing the lives of climbers at risk.

No studies have ever been made by the Forest Service to determine whether there is any justification or need for the proposed ban. Neither has the Forest Service examined the likely consequences from such a drastic policy change. More troubling, the Forest Service never consulted with or advised any climbers or climber organizations about this proposal.

The SCLMP is available on-line to review and comments can be submitted on-line as well. The proposal is buried in the SCLMP, a very convoluted document which is difficult to navigate and search. Given the lack of notice and consultation and the burying of this proposal deep within the SCLMP, it is not unreasonable to conclude this proposed ban is a “Stealth” proposal calculated to take the climbing community by surprise.

Comments are best made On-Line, but may also be made in writing mailed to the address listed on the back side of this flyer. Here is how to make an online comment:

Go to :
  1. Click on small box in upper left corner ["Select A Document": "Part 1, Co. Cal. National Forest..."]
  2. Click: "Part 2: San Bernardino National Forest Strategy" [A document "Tree" will build on left]
  3. Click: "Land Management Plan Strategy" [A document will appear on the right side of page]
  4. Click: "Next" at top of right page
  5. Click: "Prospectus" on the left side of page in the document "Tree." [A document will appear on the right side of page]
  6. Click: "Next" at top of right page
  7. Click: "Forest Specific Criteria" on the left side of page in the document "Tree." [A document will appear on the right side of page]
  8. Click: "Next" at top of right page
  9. Click: "Wilderness Standards" on the left side of page in the document "Tree." [A document will appear on the right side of page]
  10. Go to bottom of page on right, then click: "Next" at bottom of page.
  11. Scroll down page to SBNF10. [You have arrived]
  12. Highlight: "SBNF10 No new fixed anchors for rock climbing are allowed."
  13. Now go to top of the web page where the header says: "Click Here To Comment"
A. Fill out the info on you at top.
B. Provide Comment [see back side for suggestions]
C. Paste the text you highlighted in the box by clicking "Capture Highlighted Text" button.

Suggested Comments

Here are some points you might wish to cover in your comment, or make your own points:
  1. Many different climbing areas will be affected by this proposal, including Tahquitz Rock.
  2. Tahquitz has been a climbing area since 1936.
  3. Fixed anchors have been in use at Tahquitz for more than 60 years and are necessary for safety.
  4. Fixed anchors need to be replaced or improved occasionally.
  5. New routes may require some fixed anchors.
  6. Fixed anchors are NOT illegal under the Wilderness Act.
  7. Many other wilderness areas, including NPS land in SoCal, are allowing bolt replacement and actively working on ways to allow new fixed anchors while at the same time avoiding resource and social conflict.
  8. The USDA Forest Service unsuccessfully attempted a similar policy in 1997.
  9. Fixed anchors are essentially invisible except to climbers actually climbing a route .
  10. They are the minimum tool necessary to provide for safe climbing for some routes.
  11. This is a life or death situation for climbers.
  12. The Forest Service has not studied the issue beside a failed Negotiated Rule Making process, a process that merely considers ideology and opinion.
  13. Economic studies (such as the ones conducted by Douglas Shaw of UNR) show the economic value of climbing in wilderness to surrounding local communities.
If you make comments by Mail, send you comment by August 10, 2004 to:
Southern California Forest Plan Revisions
San Bernardino National Forest
USDA Forest Service
Content Analysis Center
P.O. Box 22777
Salt Lake City, UT 84122

The 10 minutes you take to make either a written or On-Line comment are essential to the future of climbing in the local Wilderness areas. Don’t let those who have targeted climbing to succeed through our complacency.

Access Fund

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