Access Fund: Climbing Banned at Castle Rocks, Idaho

posted by dpm on 05/06/2013


The beautiful Castle Rocks State Park. Photo: Idaho Parks and Rec. 

The Access Fund has asked for help in opposing the Bureau of Land Management's ban on all climbing activities in Castle Rocks, Idaho. Castle Rocks is an extensive climbing and bouldering area near the famous City of Rocks in Southern Idaho. Please read the Access Fund's call to action and take the very short time required to send an email voicing your opposition. Click here to go directly to the letter writing tool.

From the Access Fund:

On April 17, 2013, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Idaho announced that all rock climbing activity will be banned on its 400-acre portion of the Castle Rocks Interagency Recreation Area, citing the need to protect cultural resources. Located in the southern Albion Mountain Range of Cassia County, Idaho, the Castle Rocks Interagency Recreation Area includes 480 acres of the Sawtooth National Forest, 400 acres administered by the BLM’s Burley Field Office, and 1,420 acres of Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation’s (IDPR) Castle Rocks State Park. In January 2003, representatives from the IDPR, BLM, Forest Service, Access Fund and local climbing advocates, converged at Castle Rocks to develop the first climbing management plan (CMP). The CMP includes extensive provisions for identifying areas of concern and allowing climbing only in areas that will not negatively affect cultural resources. The plan was ultimately adopted by IDPR on April 18, 2003.

However the BLM required a more thorough assessment of potential resource impacts and implemented a temporary closure on May 15, 2003 (which has been extended annually through November 16, 2012) to allow them to analyze the adoption of the CMP. The BLM took six years, and finally in 2009 initiated the process of adopting the CMP. The Idaho State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) subsequently requested details regarding how the BLM would implement the CMP. Unfortunately, BLM never responded to SHPO’s inquiry (apparently due to lack of man-power) and instead proposed a permanent ban of all climbing, camping, and new trail construction. The Access Fund appealed the proposed ban, and in 2011, BLM initiated yet another planning process for Castle Rocks that only considered two alternatives: 1) Ban climbing permanently; or 2) Allow climbing to continue unregulated.

The BLM’s decision to ignore the same climbing management plan it helped create is totally unnecessary and unjustified. The Access Fund, Boise Climbers Alliance, Eastern Idaho Climbers Coalition, and the American Alpine Club are appealing BLM’s April 17th decision, but we need your help!

Please use the letter writing tool below to voice your opposition to the closure of Castle Rocks by the BLM. Taking the time to individualize the letter is always best. We need to show the congressional delegation and governor’s office that large numbers of constituents and the general public oppose this unnecessary and unjustified public land closure in hopes of pressuring the BLM to reconsider its decision.

Click here to access the letter writing tool at the Access Fund website.

Click here to see some footage of Daniel Woods, Jimmy Webb, and Dave Graham bouldering on Warpath, one of Castle Rock's most well-known boulder problems.