Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Climate Change Legislation: Opportunity to Speak Up

It’s really rather simple – human-powered outdoor pursuits need a healthy climate. If the climate is out of balance, then our favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors can go from being degraded to actually disappearing. The Outdoor Alliance, a coalition representing the human-powered outdoor recreation community, has just released a short film (view on YouTube) that bottom lines how our community intersects with this humongous issue. It also gives everyone a way to step-up and make a tangible difference in getting the climate back on track. Check out the film and take action here:

Thursday, October 15, 2009



The Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC) seeks to raise $300,000 to buy the Lower Town Wall and surrounding crags near Index, Washington. The Lower Town wall is Washingtons most famous crag and climbers have been climbing here for nearly fifty years; it is currently threatened with closure and even possible quarrying and we seek to preserve it as a climbing park. We also seek to upgrade the parking lot and install a toilet facility, two simple improvements that have long been sought by Index climbers. These actions will enhance the area and preserve climbing access while contributing to overall conservation efforts in the Skykomish Valley.

The Climbing.
The cliffs and crags surrounding the town of Index have long offered some of the best granite climbing in Washington. The Lower Town Wall is the gem of the area and has been touted as one of the best climbing crags in the United States. Several years ago the British climbing magazine Mountain declared it one of the top 10 crags in North America and it remains a vibrant hub for local and visiting climbers. The climbing is diverse in both difficulty and style and there is truly something for every rock climber at the Lower Town Wall and its satellite cliffs. This is the only year round granite climbing in the State.

Why Now?
In the early 1900's the quarry at Index literally helped to build the foundation of Seattle and rock quarried there was used in the construction of buildings throughout Puget Sound. Climbers discovered the Town Walls soon after quarry operations stopped and have enjoyed climbing there for 50 years. In March of 2009 the owner put up no trespassing signs because she was prepared to market the area to interested quarry operators. Seeking to prevent any quarrying and loss of climbing access, the Washington Climbers Coalition secured an option to purchase this property in May of 2009. We also obtained the owner's commitment to allow climbing to continue while we raise the money to buy her land.

It Will Be A Climbing Park Forever!
Forks of the Sky State Park presently contains other cliffs near the Lower Town Wall and park managers have been very supportive of rock climbing. We seek a legal agreement that will provide for permanent preservation and operation of the area as a climbing park and then we propose to turn the land over to State Parks. This scenic backdrop to the town of Index will be preserved and this outstanding crag will be saved.

See the WCC Site for how to donate and get involved! You can check this webpage for updates on the situation:

Friday, October 9, 2009

ACTION ALERT – Comment on the DNR Sustainable Recreation Work Group’s Preliminary Recommendations
Deadline – October 12

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Sustainable Recreation Work Group (SRWG) has completed their Preliminary Recommendations for funding and access for recreation on DNR lands.

The report was released on September, 28, 2009.

The initial press release said the report would be available on SRWG’s webpage on September 28, 2009 with a comment deadline of October 1. = 3 days!

Contacted about this unreasonable comment period, DNR blaimed a typo and quickly issued a second press release listing a two week comment deadline of October 12, 2009.

Public comments on the recommendations can also be made in the form of an online survey The deadline for completing this survey is also Monday, October 12th.

The trend on federal lands has been to decrease ORV trails and to establish policies in which ORVs are not allowed on trails unless specifically posted. DNR is taking the opposite approach: ORVs are allowed anywhere unless posted as prohibited. The problem with this of course is that the signs are used for target practice and/or torn down almost immediately after posted.

A particularly alarming aspect of the Sustainable Recreation Work Group’s preliminary recommendations is that they seem to signal that DNR is seriously considering allowing illegal trails to become incorporated into the designated DNR trail/road network. This sets a precedent that will encourage and reward new illegal trail creation (often forged in areas least suitable for motorized use) resulting in serious detrimental environmental impact.

All citizens of the state have a vested interest in the management of our state trust lands yet most people never even hear about these meetings, comment periods and surveys. Thus the relatively small number of ORV recreationists are continually over-represented.

Please take the time to fill out this online survey and help represent to DNR the many who enjoy non-motorized recreation and are concerned about environmental degradation on our public lands.