Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Call for Action - Shenandoah Rock Outcrop Management Plan 2012

As we mentioned last month, Shenandoah National Park released an update to their Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP).  After reading through the document and working with other organizations including the Access Fund, the Mountaineering Section of the PATC, and the American Alpine Club, we feel the following points are the most relevant to climbers.

- The ROMP focuses heavily on climbing, despite the fact that other activities such as hiking draw far more people into the park and as a result, have far greater impact. To use an example from the ROMP itself, Old Rag is visited by an estimated 50,000 people annually, but the number of climber use-days for the entire park is estimated at only 500.

- Several areas are closed to climbing: Marys Rock, North Marshall, Hawksbills Summit, West Summit of Old Rag, and 35 meters north of the "chute" trail at Little Stony Man.  While the ROMP does provide general information about impact and natural resources at risk, little detail is given on the types of impact in specific areas. There does not appear to be any definitive evidence cited that identifies climbing as a source of significant adverse impact within the park. More detailed information should be provided to further explain the need for restrictions.

- Given the fact that climbers make up only a small percentage of rock outcrop users, the park should consider the possibility that some climbing access could be allowed, even if other user groups are not. Park planners should consider ways to protect the natural resources without prohibiting access to climbing. Climbers have a rich history in Shenandoah National Park, and this history should be preserved as much as possible.

Mid Atlantic Climbers will be filing a letter jointly with the Access Fund voicing these concerns.  However, we strongly urge you to file your own comment, as a climber and an individual, by the deadline, Saturday, January 12, 2013.  No matter how brief, the more climbers that file comment the more our message is heard.  Simply click the “Comment on Document” button at

If you have any questions or comments on this, or about filing your own comment, please feel free to contact us at

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