Help Reopen Williamson Rock to Climbing

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Photo courtesy of Wayne Burnes

Photo courtesy of Wayne Burnes

A meeting regarding the Williamson Rock closure took place on Tuesday 3/4/09.

Officials from the U.S. Forest Service, The Access Fund, Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) and Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon’s office were present.

US Forest Service (USFS) officials Darrel Vance and Lisa Northrop are working together to specifically address the Williamson Rock issue. They are designated by USFS as the new I.D. (Inter Disciplinary) Team. Their attendance at this meeting showed their sincere support of the need for climbers to have responsible recreational use of this area.

With the help of these two individuals as well as others at the Forest Service, we hope to find a solution to this problem and eventually achieve access to Williamson Rock through cooperative involvement and responsible use of the environment.

Acting Angeles National Forest Supervisor Marty Dumpis also attended the meeting. I feel confident in saying that he is sympathetic to our efforts to regain access to Williamson Rock. During our meeting Supervisor Dumpis had many suggestions on how to keep our sights focused on a positive outcome, while still attending to the protocol set forth by the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Mountain Yellow legged Frog (MYLF).

Sheri Rollman, spokesperson for USFS, brought to the meeting ideas on how we can direct our efforts within confines of the Endangered Species Act and associated regulations. Supervisor Dumpis acknowledged the need for a resolution sooner than later, and a need for cooperative efforts between the climbing community and federal authorities. Community awareness and involvement will keep needed pressure on all parties involved in the decision making process.

Troy Mayr and Kai Zinn from Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) explained many viable options to the current closure. They have put together a Conservation Project Plan that would allow recreational use of the area while still protecting the endangered frog habitat. You may download a pdf file of that document here: williamsonrock.org

FoWR is working hard for the climbing community and I support their efforts. Many changes are taking place this year regarding the closure. By following the FoWR blog you can stay involved. Changes in land management rules will be posted on their website as well as the ongoing process of developing a plan that will allow public access to this area. You may also join their mailing list and view proposed projects at: williamsonrock.org

Joining this mailing list will provide you with current news and up to date developments.

I supplied Forest Service officials as well as Congressman McKeon’s office with hard copies of your emails.

These emails sent a clear message to USFS officials of our unity on this issue. The agencies involved also understand that FoWR represent thousands of climbers both locally and worldwide and that the Access Fund (regional coordinator James Pinter-Lucke was present) are the parent organization of FoWR.

The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Congressman McKeon are all aware that the climbing community is tired of waiting for something to be done regarding the Williamson Rock land use issue. Your support and efforts through involvement will keep this issue at the front of their agenda where it belongs. Please continue to reference the Friends of Williamson in your correspondence with federal officials to continue showing our solidarity regarding re-opening Williamson Rock.

The latest information on the Williamson Rock closure will always be available at the FoWR website.

I personally will stay involved in this effort until public access is once again allowed to the Williamson Rock area. I will also continue to collaborate with the FoWR and inform the climbing community at large of needed support during key decision-making government processes during this effort.

The climbing community has been very patient and has not been offered much in the way of progress. Today, the federal agencies involved are under a great deal of pressure to produce a workable plan for the Williamson/MYLF issue. It may not happen soon, but if we coordinate our efforts it will become a reality to once again enjoy this beautiful resource.

Patience and community involvement will make it happen.

Sincerely, Wayne Burnes