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Update on Cerro Romualdo, SLO
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Mar 29, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Registered: Apr 5, 2005
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Update on Cerro Romualdo, SLO
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In case you missed it in Sunday's Tribune:

Climbers will have to pay to enjoy peak
Camp SLO officials say they'll allow use of Cerro Romualdo again -- if hikers fund an environmental study
By Nathan Welton

Camp San Luis Obispo officials have told outdoor enthusiasts they'll first have to pay for an environmental study that could cost tens of thousands of dollars if they want renewed permission to climb and hike on the rock faces and trails of Cerro Romualdo.

That study would determine whether such public use poses an environmental threat.

The general public was banned last fall from the mountain, which is part of the National Guard base. At the time, camp officials told The Tribune that their main concerns were security and liability risks.

Now, after a few months, camp officials are citing environmental reasons as the biggest access obstacle.

Before last fall's closure, people had enjoyed loosely controlled access to Cerro Romualdo, which is a popular spot to climb and hike on the string of peaks winding from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay.

"We've been presented with an opportunity to regain access, and we will make the most of it," said local climber and access advocate Tom Slater.

Slater said he's working with local and national land-use organizations to try to find funding for the environmental study, which will likely take six to nine months to complete.

"We have two other peaks in the range, within close proximity, that allow thousands of hikers and climbers to recreate there," he said, referring to Bishop and Cabrillo peaks. Slater said neither the city of San Luis Obispo, the county nor state parks have found that climbing causes problems.

But Camp San Luis Obispo Commander Lt. Col. Kelly A. Fisher said a survey about six years ago identified Cerro Romualdo as a potentially sensitive site, with various plants and animals that need protection.

"Over the last decade a lot more resources have been made available to ensure we're good environmental stewards of the land," she said. "The military wasn't being held accountable to do those reviews as comprehensively as what we're required to do now."

The initial environmental report can come back with a negative declaration, which means the intended use climbing and hiking won't cause environmental problems. Then, Fisher said, the camp would design a suitable access policy.

That would likely include banning access when the adjacent Sheriff's Department firing range is being used and requiring climbers to register their cars, check in and out and sign an indemnity clause.

"There was a loose policy many years ago where people contacted operations, but they'd not check out," Fisher said. "The procedures were loose, and liability was too high."

If the environmental study shows that climbing and hiking would be detrimental, those who want access would have to find a way to pay for a full environmental review, which is far more time- consuming and expensive.

Both the Access Fund a national climber advocacy organization and the local chapter of the Sierra Club have sent letters to the base asking for open access.

County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian also is working on the access issue, helping to seek potential funding sources for the environmental study.

"The best news I have here is there's a willingness to work with us: the public," he said. He noted that rock climbers are generally good environmental stewards.

Staff writer Bob Cuddy contributed to this report.
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Aug 23, 2006, 10:18 PM
Post #2 of 2 (1867 views)

Registered: Mar 21, 2005
Posts: 167

Re: Update on Cerro Romualdo, SLO [In reply to]
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The environmental study is done and it looks to be in our favor.

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