Forums: Climbing Information: Access Issues & Closures:
access problems at old rag
RSS FeedRSS Feeds for Access Issues & Closures

Premier Sponsor:

 


nowinowski


Oct 20, 2005, 5:45 AM
Post #1 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 5, 2003
Posts: 134

access problems at old rag
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

heard a rumor that NPS rangers were trying to shut down climbing at my favorite little mountain in ole virginny. anyone know anything about this?
has the access fund been contacted?


reg


Oct 20, 2005, 6:14 AM
Post #2 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 10, 2004
Posts: 1560

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

friend of mine climbed there last weekend. that's all i know. well, i know a hell of alot more but that's it for this topic.


unabonger


Oct 20, 2005, 6:50 AM
Post #3 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 8, 2003
Posts: 2689

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

In reply to:
heard a rumor that NPS rangers were trying to shut down climbing at my favorite little mountain in ole virginny. anyone know anything about this?
has the access fund been contacted?

I can't find anything on the NPS.gov site for Shenandoah NP that would indicate a climbing closure. Normally such events occur on NPS land in conjunction with an EIS and management plan update.

Where did you hear the rumor?

UB


nowinowski


Oct 20, 2005, 7:25 AM
Post #4 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 5, 2003
Posts: 134

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I heard they were doing an impact survey with an eye towards a complete closure sounded like the grandmother boulders type study. I'm no biologist but most of the stuff around the climbing seems to be second growth forest with a alot of non indigenous undergrowth that literally closes behind you!!


nowinowski


Nov 11, 2005, 5:34 AM
Post #5 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 5, 2003
Posts: 134

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

bump


pattray


Nov 11, 2005, 5:48 AM
Post #6 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 294

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Where or who did you hear this from ?


nowinowski


Nov 11, 2005, 7:24 AM
Post #7 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 5, 2003
Posts: 134

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

one of my buddies who was climbing up there


wikswo


Nov 21, 2005, 10:00 PM
Post #8 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 9, 2005
Posts: 23

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Found this scrounging around on the web:

http://data2.itc.nps.gov/...k%20rock%20climbing'

Might be worth keeping an eye on this project. Sounds fishy to me. Deer are eating the park one tree at a time, pests are steadily killing all the major tree species left by the deer, park visitation is plumetting, and the NPS is worried about the impact of some climbers' trails. Too crazy to ignore. Plus it has references, always a bad sign. ;)


unabonger


Nov 22, 2005, 10:34 AM
Post #9 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Aug 8, 2003
Posts: 2689

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

This is from the PDF file referenced in the above post. Looks like they'll spend a few years studying the issue for inclusion in an EIS and Management plan.
In reply to:
Cliff Management Project
National Park Service
U. S. Department of the Interior
Shenandoah National Park
Natural Resource Fact Sheet
Introduction
The cliff and rock outcrop areas of Shenandoah National
Park are some of the largest in the region and contain
myriad significant vegetation communities and rare plant
and animal populations (Ludwig et al., 1993). Intense use of
these areas by hiking, climbing and camping enthusiasts
has led to severe degradation of vegetation and soils at
some cliff sites, including impacts to rare species and
communities (Hilke, 2002).
Rock climbing at Little Stony Man cliffs.
Management Needs
The Park must protect cliff resources while still providing
opportunities for visitor enjoyment of those resources
(Shenandoah National Park, 2003). Important information
about factors such as location, resource composition and
visitor use impacts necessary to make decisions about cliff
management is seriously lacking. The Cliff Management
Project, taking place from 2005- 2007, will fund resource
and recreation use assessments that will culminate in the
development and implementation of a cliff management
plan to mitigate current impacts and direct the future
management of fragile cliff areas.
Current Procedures
The Cliff Management Project is a comprehensive 3- year
effort from 2005 – 2007 to address the challenges facing
cliff areas in the Park. Funding is being provided by the
Natural Resource Preservation Program (NRPP). The
project will fund surveys to assess biological and geological
resources, visitor impact, and visitor use, that will
culminate in the development and implementation of a
Cliff Management Plan. This plan will direct mitigation,
monitoring, and restoration efforts, and direct
management of visitor use and associated impacts at cliff
sites.
Year one (2005) of the project is devoted to gathering
information on the location, composition, and recreation
uses of cliff resources through the implementation of four
cooperator contracts. Year two (2006) focuses on the
completion of cooperator projects, outreach efforts, and
synthesis of information into a Cliff Management Plan.
Year three (2007) includes finalization of the Cliff
Management Plan and the completion of the NEPA and
public review process, coupled with continued outreach
and plan implementation activities.
References
Hilke, J.C. 2002. Management considerations for rock
outcrop barren communities on three peaks in
Shenandoah National Park. Master’s Degree Research
Project. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.
Ludwig, J.C., G.P. Fleming, C.A. Pague, T.J. Rawinski 1993.
A Natural Heritage Inventory of Mid- Atlantic Region
National Parks in Virginia: Shenandoah National Park.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Natural Heritage Technical Report #93- 5.
Shenandoah National Park 2003. Strategic Management
Plan - Shenandoah National Park. Internal NPS
Document.
Outcrop cliff with vegetation growing up the edge of the cliff.
E X P E R I E N C E Y O U R A M E R I C A Page 1 of 1 Last Update: 22-Feb-2005


wikswo


Dec 12, 2005, 5:22 PM
Post #10 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 9, 2005
Posts: 23

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

More scrounging on the web reveals this document, which announces the project :

http://www.nps.gov/nero/science/NEW/newprojshen.htm

Note that this document specifically refers to endangered salamanders, rare plant communities, and the need "to direct visitor recreation use to minimize impacts, mitigate resource degradation associated with visitor use, preserve valuable cliff resources, and restore damaged cliff and rock outcrop areas."

If that's not official-speak for closing Old Rag and Little Stony Man to climbers, I don't know what is.

The lack of any mention for soliciting public comment (apart from some volunteers hanging out around crags) worries me. Will the official announcement come only after the plan is approved and it's too late to get involved?

What do you guys think we should do about this? Contact the park? Call the Access Fund? mobilize the grassroots? sit on our hands?

Matthew Wikswo
wikswo@cstone.net


nowinowski


Dec 13, 2005, 5:36 AM
Post #11 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Sep 5, 2003
Posts: 134

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

I contacted the access fund and there was a posting about the "cliff management plan" on their website. Any way I won't argue that old rag is not an overused resource, but not by climbers. I talked to the guy that was handing out climbing surveys, of course very friendly not indicative of the fact that the way I filled out the survey might jepaordize my access to the mountain. But -- the point is he had been sitting out there every weekend and hadn't seen hardly any climbers. Divide this by the number of good areas say 6 and the impact in a given area should be very - very - very low compared with nearly any other decent climbing area in the country. They are trying to scapegoat the real impacts - second growth forest with a choked non native understory, rampant deer populations, and a huge hiker impact.


wikswo


Dec 13, 2005, 7:27 PM
Post #12 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 9, 2005
Posts: 23

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Nate et al,

So, I had a long talk today with the biologist who's helping run the Cliff Managment Project and she was pretty helpful. Among the many things she said (including lots of biology details!):

1) That they had probably erred by failing to have surveyors give respondents a full story about what they're up to. She basically said oops, our bad, that would have been good manners.

2) That the cliff management project has pretty much been imposed on them and they are looking for ways to do it as intelligently as possible, reconciling conservation needs with the needs not only of climbers, but also other users. With visitation and funding down, they definitely don't want additional chores for themselves or disincentives to visitors.

3) That despite not much mention in the literature (see web links earlier in this thread), the process does indeed call for public meetings, including one in the winter of 2006. We agreed that we would stay in touch about this upcoming meeting, so that there will be time to give the climbing community notice, so that we can be sure to show up and represent our interests.

4) That there are fewer climbers out there than they originally expected, and that they appear to contribute less than expected to the cliff impact--much of which comes from hikers and campers, plus climbers when they appear in large institutional/school groups, as in 20+ people. (Of course, if they were to close the cliffs because of hiker damage, they'd still be closed to us as well, but maybe we can prevent that...)

5) In general, the woman was very helpful and informative and said their team would welcome the input and involvement of the climbing community. I'm as worried about access constraints in the SNP as much as anyone else, but she really did seem honest and well-intentioned, so I'm hoping we can get involved relatively early and very constructively.

So, we now have some contacts in the C'ville climbing community; additional links to the climbing communities in other regional centers (Richmond, H'burg, D.C., etc.) would be a great asset in coordinating our response--anyone interested, let me know!

Follow this thread for updates, including about the upcoming public meeting. Although the situation is not currently desperate, there is a real need for everyone who loves Old Rag to tune in and be involved.

Best,

Matthew Wikswo
wikswo@cstone.net


wikswo


Mar 6, 2006, 12:39 PM
Post #13 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 9, 2005
Posts: 23

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Here's the latest status of the project as of February 2006, from the Shen. Nat. Park staff:


Current Status of the Rock Outcrop Management Project at SHEN
December 13, 2005
Prepared by:
Eric Butler, Geology Consultant
(540) 999-3435, eric_butler@partner.nps.gov
Shenandoah National Park, Natural Resources Division
3655 US Highway 211 E, Luray, VA 22835

Introduction
The Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP) Detailed Implementation Plan (Cass and Bair, 2005) delineates eight tasks to be completed within the three-year scope of the project. This report presents the status of each task as of December 2005, and summarizes the overall findings to this date, with focus on observed impacts and conditions at sites.

TASK 1. Identify and map locations of cliff resources through aerial photo interpretation and analysis of satellite imagery.

Status: This work has been completed (Young, USGS, 2005), and a final report is expected by December 31, 2005. A USGS research scientist used a computer algorithm to identify and delineate all possible sites of open rock within the park as visible on satellite and/or aerial imagery. This database was compared with a DEM-based slope model of the park in order to further identify possible cliff/outcrop areas that may not have been obvious from overhead imagery. These data were used to confirm and constrain the location of known rock exposure areas, and to select several previously unknown or unvisited sites for inclusion in ROMP surveys.
Initial site boundaries were drawn in a GIS and made available to other cooperators for further refinement. Field checks of certain remote or lesser-known sites were conducted to assess the accuracy of remote sensing methods. A website was developed presenting imagery resources for each site, including:
- leaf-on aerial photo with site boundary
- leaf-off aerial photo with site boundary
- topographic map with site boundary
- 3D topographic model of site & surrounding area
- link to report, field map, & photos from geology survey (see TASK 4)

TASK 2. Conduct surveys of cliff sites park-wide to assess the type and location of botanical and zoological resources.

Status: This work is ongoing. During the 2005 field season, botanists from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VADCR) visited 29 of the 50 ROMP sites. Some of these sites contained previously known rare plant occurrences, while others had never been visited. A total of 74 rare plant Element Occurrences (E.O.) were documented at these sites (an E.O. is a discrete population of a specific plant or community; there may be more than one E.O. of the same type within a single site). Of the 74 E.O.s, 18 were previously unknown, while the remainder had been documented in the past. In five cases, a previously known rare plant E.O. could not be relocated. Several sites visited in 2005 will be revisited in 2006 (Belden, VADCR, 2005).
Zoologists from VACDR visited 21 sites during the field season, focusing on invertebrates. Field netting was used to collect samples from vegetation, while light traps were set overnight to collect additional species. Few results are currently available, as VADCR staff are currently inventorying and identifying the large amounts of samples collected. To this date, two rare beetles and one rare moth may have been identified, but further work is needed to confirm this (Chazal, VADCR, 2005).



TASK 3. Classify outcrop communities based on vegetation type and assess threats to the communities.

Status: This work is in the early stages, and most will be completed in 2006. During the 2005 field season, VADCR ecologists visited 10 sites and identified 22 vegetative community E.O.s. Two of these communities are thought to be endemic to SHEN: high-elevation outcrop barren (greenstone) and bryophyte/lichen boulder field; another is endemic to Virginia: high-elevation outcrop barren (chokeberry). Two new E.O.s of the latter community were identified in 2005 (Fleming, VADCR, 2005).
A stewardship biologist visited 36 of the 50 ROMP sites in order to assess biological impact and disturbance. These sites were rated on a 3-part scale (major-minor-pristine) that took into account condition of plant communities and presence of invasive species. Of the 36 sites, 11 were rated major, 14 minor, and 11 pristine.

TASK 4. Classify geologic composition and condition of cliff resources.

Status: This work is ongoing. During the 2005 field season, a geology consultant working with SHEN completed surveys on 24 of the 50 sites (Butler, NPS, 2005). These sites were distributed across all three major bedrock units found within the park (Gathright, 1976), including 19 of 32 sites located on greenstone bedrock, 3 of 7 located on metasedimentary bedrock, and 2 of 10 located on granitic/metamorphic bedrock (the location of one site has yet to be decided). For each site, data and information were collected in the following categories:
- Geographic – location, elevation, dimensions
- Physical – landscape description, vegetation thickness (re. ease of navigation)
- Geologic – bedrock composition, structures, other important features
- Geomorphic – classification of exposure type, relief, aspect, slope, stability
- Human Effects – potential for access, observed impact on rocks & biota (see Table 1)
- Interpretation – discussion of all geologic factors affecting the nature of the site

In addition, detailed field maps were prepared, delineating the location of all open rock exposure and talus fields within the site boundary as well as access routes and danger zones. This information was compiled into site reports, consisting of written data, geologic history and interpretations, field map(s), and relevant photographs. These reports were posted (in PDF form) to the USGS imagery website (see TASK 1).
Although many of the sites contain features of significant geologic interest, such as well-formed minerals or structures, none of these features identified to date appears to be under any direct threat from human activity or physical processes. While human impact such as scratched graffiti impairs the appearance of the rock, it does not threaten the exposure as a whole (though the ecological communities on that exposure may be threatened). No evidence of sampling or other significant physical tampering was found at any site, and none of the geologic features are unique or fragile enough to require special protection or concern. In most cases, the significance of these features would only be evident to a geologist or through active interpretive efforts. There are significant geologic features within the park that could require special protection (Connors, 1988; Badger, 1999), but none are located within the sites studied to this date.

TASK 5. Conduct a recreational use survey to assess the type and extent of recreational activities and associated visitor impacts on all identified cliff sites.

Status: This work is nearly completed. Researchers from Virginia Tech (VT) selected 17 of the 50 ROMP sites to conduct detailed surveys of visitor impacts, based on previous reports of impacts at these sites. The VT survey defined impacts as “areas of reduced vegetation cover caused by human trampling”, including “condition class, percent ground cover on- and off-site, exposed soil and tree damage”. Researchers counted and/or measured the nature, extent, and location of impacts at the selected sites. Full data and statistical analyses are not yet available (Marion, VT, 2005).


TASK 6. Develop and conduct a social science survey of day and overnight visitors at cliff sites.

Status: This work is nearly completed. Researchers from VT conducted discreet visual observation of visitor behavior and activity at two popular sites (Old Rag Mountain and Little Stony Man) on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the summer. Random spot counts of visitor numbers were conducted, as well as observations of illegal or impacting behavior (such as vegetation trampling or object throwing). In addition, detailed surveys were handed out to climbers at both Old Rag Mountain and Little Stony Man. These surveys collected data on climbers’ opinions and experiences regarding climbing in general, climbing in SNP, and potential outcrop management practices. Full data and statistical analyses are not yet available (Wood, VT, 2005).

TASK 7. Create a Cliff Management Plan incorporating information from resource and visitor use/impact studies and relevant evaluative information developed by the project to address SHEN cliff management concerns.

Status: This work will begin toward the end of FY2006, and continue through FY2007. Development of a management plan relies on complete data from ongoing field studies, which will be concluded by fall 2006.

TASK 8. Initiate management activities to mitigate visitor use issues, and protect and restore natural resource conditions.

Status: This work will begin in FY2006 with preliminary development of interpretive materials and on-site mitigation efforts. The majority of the work will continue in FY2007 in conjunction with the full development of the Cliff Management Plan.


wikswo


Mar 6, 2006, 12:43 PM
Post #14 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Apr 9, 2005
Posts: 23

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

ANNOUNCING PUBLIC MEETINGS on SHENANDOAH NAT'L PARK CLIMBING...

-----------------

Greetings,

Following is information about Shenandoah National Park's community
workshops for the "Rock Outcrop Management Project (ROMP)."

The goals of the workshops are to (1) initiate a dialogue with SHEN's rock
climbing and hiking public to increase awareness, understanding, and
support for ROMP, (2) provide specific information about ROMP to the
public, (3) identify and document issues, concerns and opportunities
related to management of rock outcrop areas in SHEN, and (4) identify and
document other groups and individuals that might be interested in the
project, and provide information on future opportunities for community
involvement.

For the convenience of travel for SHEN's stakeholders, workshop dates and
sites have been arranged for the west and east sides of the Park.

West Side Workshop:
Saturday, April 1, 2006
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
James Madison University, Festival Conference and Student Center
1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22807


From I-81: Turn left off exit 245 if coming from I-81 North and
right off exit 245 if coming from I-81 South. Immediately get into left
turning lane. Make a left onto Forest Hill Rd. At the stop sign, make a
left onto Oak Hill Rd. Continuing on Oak Hill, the Convocation Center will
be on the left followed by the Arboretum on the right. Make a
left at the JMU entrance onto Carrier Drive. The Festival Conference and
Student Center is 0.25 mile on the left.

From US Hwy 33 East: Take University Blvd between Valley Mall and
K-Mart (left if travelling west, right if travelling east.) Go through
three stoplights. Make a right at the JMU entrance onto
Carrier Drive. The Festival Conference and Student Center is 0.25 mile on
the left.

(A downloadable/printable map of the University can be obtained at
http://www.jmu.edu.map.)


East Side Workshop:
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cub Run RECenter, Fairfax County Park Authority
4630 Stonecroft Blvd., Chantilly VA 20151


From Beltway and I-66: Go 11 miles to exit onto Sully Rd/VA-28 North
via Exit 53B. Merge right onto Westfields Blvd West exit. Turn slight
right onto Stonecroft Blvd. Drive about 1.8 miles to entrance
on left (next to Westfields High School).

From 28 North (Centreville): Merge right onto Westfields Blvd West
exit. Turn slight right onto Stonecroft Blvd. Drive about 1.8 miles to
entrance on left (next to Westfields High School)

From 28 South (Dulles): Turn right onto Willard Drive. Turn left
onto Stonecroft Blvd. Make first right into Cub Run parking lot.

From 29 West (Centreville): Start out going West on Lee Hwy/US 29
toward Braddock Rd. Merge onto Westfields Blvd West exit. Turn slight
right onto Stonecroft Blvd. Drive about 1.8 miles to entrance on
left (next to Westfields High School.)

From 50 West (Chantilly): Turn left onto Stonecroft Blvd. Turn
right into Cub Run parking lot.

From 50 East (US-15): Turn right onto Stonecroft Blvd. Turn right
into Cub Run parking lot.

(Further information and a downloadable and printable map is
available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/wcrec.htm)

This information will also be posted to the SHEN website in the next week
or so.

We hope you will be able to participate in one of these community
workshops.

Steve

Steve Bair
Backcountry, Wilderness and Trails Manager

Shenandoah National Park
3655 US Hwy 211 E.
Luray, VA 22835
(540)999-3140
steve_bair@nps.gov


rjbonz


May 4, 2006, 10:28 AM
Post #15 of 15 (6105 views)
Shortcut

Registered: Nov 26, 2001
Posts: 16

Re: access problems at old rag [In reply to]
Report this Post
Average: avg_1 avg_2 avg_3 avg_4 avg_5 (0 ratings)  
Can't Post

Thanks NPS for sharing this information. That said, I am quite stricken and troubled by the very specific nature of the tasks you are carrying out as they pertain to the cliffs of Stony Man and Old Rag. It creates a very strong perception that you are going after climbers.

Are you looking into the trail erosion issues associated with the passive pedestrians in these regions? Litter caused by passive pedestrians? The local rednecks going to these areas, drinking and breaking glass?

Just curious.


Forums : Climbing Information : Access Issues & Closures

 


Search for (options)

Log In:

Username:
Password: Remember me:

Go Register
Go Lost Password?



Follow us on Twiter Become a Fan on Facebook