A bolting ban put in place by Bitterroot National Forest has some rock climbers upset.
The Spokesman-Review had a story on the issue today: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/feb/23/bitterroot-bolting-ban-puts-spokane-climbers-on-ed/
Forest officials say in the article that the ban is only in place until a long-term plan can be put into action.
Access Fund, a national group posted the following earlier this week:
In an unprecedented move, Bitterroot National Forest in Montana banned new bolts and route development earlier this month, without any public process or opportunity to comment. Access Fund is asking for the climbing community’s help to shut down this dangerous national precedent.
An estimated 30 percent of America’s climbing is on U.S. Forest Service land, and this unsubstantiated ban sets a dangerous precedent for climbing in national forests all across the country—areas like Rumney, Linville Gorge, Jackson Falls, Cochise Stronghold, Maple Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Wild Iris, Needles (California), Enchanted Tower, Liberty Bell, Seneca Rocks, and so many others.
The ban was issued as an official order by Forest Supervisor Matt Anderson, and it declares all new route development (first ascents) after the date of the order illegal. The order does not include any allowances for emergencies, fixed anchors that protect natural resources, bolt replacement, hand-drilled fixed anchors on traditional first ascents in Wilderness, or slings for descent. Of further concern, the Supervisor’s Order “reminds” climbers that new fixed anchors are banned—incorrectly implying that fixed anchors were illegal in the past. This implication is at odds with well-established U.S. Forest Service plans across the country, which acknowledge fixed anchors as critical tools for climbing.
READ THE ORDER HERE
“We haven’t seen a U.S. Forest Service decision as egregious and far-reaching as this in 25 years,” says Access Fund Policy Director Erik Murdock. “This Supervisor’s Order overrides a successful, existing agreement between the climbing community and the forest, ignores any public process, and sets a dangerous precedent for all national forests.”
Access Fund is working with Western Montana Climbers Coalition (WMTCC) to push back on this unsubstantiated ban and remind Bitterroot National Forest that fixed anchors are legal in national forests. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll be reminding the supervisor that a significant management decision like this, on our public lands, deserves public process and science-based decision-making. More detail on Access Fund and WMTCC’s past work with Bitterroot National Forest can be found here <link to full article that has background info>.