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The BLM has approved a management plan for Indian Creek, Utah, that will mostly allow climbing and camping to continue in its current unregulated form, while also requiring climbers to clean up after themselves. The plan designates three main camping areas, at Bridger Jack, Creek Pasture and Hamburger Rock, and will allow but discourage camping at other sites. In order to preserve the primitive camping experience in the desert environment, the BLM is requiring climbers to carry out all of their waste, including feces. Later this winter, the Friends of Indian Creek, with funding from the American Alpine Club, will install three kiosks dispensing Wag Bags, and climbers must deposit their waste in these bags and carry it back to town for proper disposal. The BLM will monitor compliance with the carry-it-out plan for two years, and if the program fails then citations and possibly pit toilets and camping fees will come next.
Although crag climbers are not used to packing out their waste, river runners, big-wall climbers, and mountaineers on Denali, Rainier and other popular mountains have been doing it for years. “Simply stated, the time for control of human waste has come,” said Jim Donini, a member of Friends of Indian Creek and an AAC board member. “Such controls have been in place and effective for river trips for years. If we want to keep from sliding down the slippery path of additional unwanted infrastructure, we must do the same.”
Since October, campers at the base of popular Castleton Tower outside Moab, Utah, have had access to Wag Bags from a kiosk installed by Utah Open Lands, the property’s owner, and funded by the Access Fund and the AAC. According to Dave Erley, who manages the Castleton site, climbers used nearly 200 Wag Bags this fall, and donations at the site covered most of the cost of the bags.
Photo by B.J. Sbarra