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Great Falls NP, VA Climbing Access at Risk


by Editor

February 10, 2004

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

The National Park Service is currently drafting a new General Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement for Great Falls National Park located in Virginia approximately 25 minutes from Washington DC. Great Falls National Park is a climbing treasure containing over 200 routes in the pristine Potomac River Mather Gorge located near a population of over 4 million people. Many climbers visiting DC from throughout the world on business or pleasure have climbed at Great Falls. The draft plan proposes three alternative concepts for the future operation of the park that affect its many recreational uses including climbing. How these alternatives affect climbing is summarized below: (Source: NPS Great Falls Park General Management Plan Statement, Nov 2003)

Alternative Concept A - No Action/Status Quo
Climbing activities allowed at designated sites operated on a fist come basis

Alternative Concept B - Resource Enhancement
Reduce number of climbing sites and control through NPS permitting

Alternative Concept C - Recreational Enhancement
Expand climbing sites and anchors. Expand concession operations to control climbing uses through reservations and permits.

Federal agencies are required by law to include a no action alternative such as Alternative A, but that they rarely select it. Therefore it will require public input for climbing access to be preserved in its current status at Great Falls National park. Alternative B reduces climbing sites and initiates a NPS permitting program. Alternative C says it will expand climbing sites, anchors, and initiate a concession run reservation and permit system. Alternative C is a Red Herring for climbers because currently all climbing sites are accessible with the exception of those on cultural resources or near the falls viewing platforms. To expand climbing sites to these areas would go against the NPS mission of cultural and view shed preservation. Additionally, a concession run reservation and permit system translates to unnecessary user fees and bureaucratic red tape placed on the climber. To learn more about this proposal please visit:

Your comments are needed to protect climber access at Great Falls. The alternative selected will be chosen in the upcoming weeks. Please respond to this proposal by writing:

Superintendent Audrey F. Calhoun
George Washington Memorial Parkway
c/oTurkey Run Park
McLean, Virginia 22101

(Please include "Attn: Great Falls GMP Team" and your name and return address in your Internet message.)

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