5/2/13 - On April 17, the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho proposed permanently banning climbing on 400 acres of the Castle Rock Interagency Recreation Area. This does not affect the neighboring and much larger City of Rocks.
The BLM property sits within a patchwork of public lands called the Castle Rock Interagency Recreation Area. The Castle Rock Interagency Recreation Area covers more than 2,300 acres, with different sections managed by the BLM’s Burley Field Office, Sawtooth National Forest, and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR)’s Castle Rocks State Park.
Discussions on how to jointly manage the area for climbing began in January 2003, with land managers and climbing advocates. A Climbing Management Plan was developed and adopted by the IDPR in April the same year.
The BLM required additional assessment, only releasing the plan for public comment in 2009. The BLM proposed climbing be allowed in some areas, and made it off-limits in others to protect sensitive cultural sites. However, in response to public comment, the BLM is now proposing a permanent ban of all climbing, camping, and new trail construction. "This is a shame," says Brad Shilling, a City of Rocks climbing ranger. "There are many options between a free-for-all and a total ban. I think land managers can do a wonderful job of protecting sensitive sites while allowing climbing to occur."
A representative from the Access Fund says they are appealing the decision. "Only a small portion of sensitive sites are affected by climbing," says R.D. Pascoe. "We are happy to close these sites from climbing in order to protect them, but feel a blanket ban is unnecessary, particularly given they will still allow other activities such as hunting and grazing to continue," he said.
To learn more about the proposed closure of Castle Rock to climbers on BLM land, please visit accessfund.org. They’re encouraging climbers to use their letter-writing tool to voice opposition to the closure. See a map of the closures here.