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mungeclimber


May 28, 2003, 9:14 AM
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Bolts in Wilderness (legal and access issues)
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Has anyone been involved with the use of bolts in designated wilderness?

Here's the issue, how is the border of a "wilderness" area determined, such that inside the wilderness area new bolts (after i believe 1997) are illegal and those outside are ok?

Does it make a difference if there is a road nearby? i.e. do you have any legal citations for determining the wilderness "area" by virtue or a road 4x4 or 2x2 being nearby? So for example, a dirt road in a wilderness area is accessible by car, but it is inside the boundary area? Is that wilderness, such that new bolts are illegal if placed post 1997?

I know Joshua Tree had boundary areas that are in wilderness and some are not? But that's in a national park, how about Forest Service land, or National Monument, or Federal Recreation Land?

Any insight would help. Tried to get info from access fund site last night, but internet went down. I'll check today.

Thanks,


sonso45


May 28, 2003, 9:57 AM
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Re: Bolts in Wilderness (legal and access issues) [In reply to]
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I have put in a new climb in Eagletails. It has a designated wilderness that was created by Clinton a few years ago. The road going into it still exists but is now blocked off; the boundary is based on arbitrary lines. Bolting is not allowed in Nat'l Forest wilderness but is in BLM. The AAC may have updated info. Last stuff I found was here: http://www.americanalpineclub.org/policy/FixedAnchorsUSFSChronology.htm


brianinslc


May 28, 2003, 10:39 AM
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Re: Bolts in Wilderness (legal and access issues) [In reply to]
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In reply to:
Has anyone been involved with the use of bolts in designated wilderness?

Sure. Bunches of places. Very common to find bolts and other fixed hardware in wilderness areas where there is climbing.

In reply to:
Here's the issue, how is the border of a "wilderness" area determined, such that inside the wilderness area new bolts (after i believe 1997) are illegal and those outside are ok?

Hmmm..."Wilderness Areas" are designated by Congress. Some are managed for no new fixed anchors (?), but, I think that is pretty rare.

The boundries of most wilderness areas are pretty well defined. Each land manager should be able to provide a map which shows the borders.

In reply to:
Does it make a difference if there is a road nearby? i.e. do you have any legal citations for determining the wilderness "area" by virtue or a road 4x4 or 2x2 being nearby? So for example, a dirt road in a wilderness area is accessible by car, but it is inside the boundary area? Is that wilderness, such that new bolts are illegal if placed post 1997?

I can't think of a Wilderness Area you can drive into. Fly into, yep, but not drive into. There are some wilderness areas with old roads, but, these aren't used (except in emergencies).

In reply to:
I know Joshua Tree had boundary areas that are in wilderness and some are not? But that's in a national park, how about Forest Service land, or National Monument, or Federal Recreation Land?


Can be managed differently in each case. There are Wilderness Areas in all of the above, and on BLM land too.

I don't think, in general, the issue is the placement of bolts per se. Wilderness Areas just preclude the use of a drill as "motorized equipment" (google up a copy of the Wilderness Act and read it, very interesting and incredible piece of legislation). I think in "most" designated wilderness areas, or WSA's, hand drilling is still ok. But...some land managers have designated "no new fixed anchors" or some such. You'd have to check each individual area. It can be kinda cornfusing.

Some of us (ahem) have argued that a "bolt" or a "fixed anchor" like a piton or sling around a chockstone or tree isn't a "structure or installation" that would be prohibited by the Wilderness Act. And, I think especially the Forest Service, in their negotiated rule making, agreed. Whew.

Brian in SLC


mungeclimber


Aug 22, 2003, 8:20 PM
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bump

any new thoughts?


boltdude


Sep 27, 2003, 7:50 PM
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mungeclimber,

1) the border of Wilderness areas are determined by acts of Congress, and the lines are clearly defined on USGS maps and most other maps. If there is any question about a specific area, just get the USGS 7.5 minute map for the area, and the Wilderness boundary will be clearly shown.

2) New bolts are allowed in Wilderness, but they must be hand drilled. A few local Wilderness areas have been closed to new bolting of any kind, by local managers or as an interim management step. In Red Rocks, NV, the canyons are currently closed to any bolting of any kind, but this is only an interim step. No other Wilderness areas in or near CA are closed like this as far as I'm aware.

3) No cars are permitted inside Wilderness areas, all roads are closed inside the boundaries. However, some roads are "cherry stemmed" through Wilderness in the original Act that designates that Wilderness (such as the Dusy trail, which is a hard-core 4x4 trail leaving from Courtright Reservoir). All roads that are closed should be blocked and signed, although occasionally the signs are torn down and people drive in anyway.

4) Wilderness boundaries are often only 30' off the center line of certain roads, such as the Dusy trail. Sometimes they are 100' off the center line. But the detailed USGS maps show the lines.

5) It doesn't matter what agency (NPS, USFS, BLM) manages the land, the rules for Wilderness are all the same (no power drills allowed). The only exception is when the local managers have issued further regulations, but those should be widely known or signed (such as the interim bolt ban in Red Rocks canyons, signs everywhere). However, the local managers may extend rules to non-Wilderness areas, such as the Lower Merced cliffs in Yosemite (Cookie, Arch, etc), which are not in Wilderness, but the NPS has banned power drill use anywhere in Yosemite National Park, even outside Wilderness.

Hope that clears it up.

Greg


johnpeterson


Sep 28, 2003, 5:41 PM
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I'll recap what I learned at the AF meeting. I hope I get this right.

The first issue is whether bolts / fixed anchors are legal at all in wilderness areas. At present, the government agencies that administer wilderness area (BLM, USFS, NPS, and Fish and Wildlife) agree that fixed anchors are not the sort of installations that are banned under the act. While it's hard to base this argument on the text of the act, many areas covered by the act had fixed anchors at the time the wilderness act was written and this was know to the authors of the act. Anyway, this decision is not final in the sense that it can (and will be) taken to court. But the good news is that the government will be arguing that fixed anchors are acceptable rather than prohibited.

While fixed anchors may not be banned, they can certainly be regulated by the management agency that controls the wilderness area. There are two basic management policies being adopted: one that makes such anchors OK by default with some sort of process to come in and remove anchors or regulate areas more tightly when problems arise. The other is to have some sore of formal process to consider anchors before they are installed. If I remember correctly, the NPS and USFS are leaning toward the "legal by default" position while the BLM is tending to adopt "illedal by default" as a general rule. Regardless of the overall position of the management agency, local climbing managment plans (CMPs) are used to clearly state the policy that applies to specific areas. Thus it is very important for the climbing community to take an active interest in setting up CMPs that reflect the needs of the climbing community and avoid undue hassle and red tape.

No matter how you slice it, though, power drills are not going to be legal in the wilderness. (Interestingly enough, at the Obed climbers were able to get a special permit to replace existing bolts using a power drill. This is a Wild and Scenic River corridor so it's not exactly a Wilderness Area but it certainly is managed in a similar manner. The argument is that the noise of hammering in bolts by hand was more of a disturbance and that power rebolting was more appropriate).

One other interesting tidbit is that regulations are stricter in a Wilderness Study area than an actual Wilderness Area. I'm not sure of the details of this, though.

This all boils down to the fact that bolting in wilderness areas is subject to local control by the managing agency. Although there will probably be further legal action which could change everything in all probablilty this whole issue has become a local rather than national one. Regardless of whether areas are in Wilderness or not, expect to see more and more formal CMPs that govern conduct on nearly all government controlled land. There certainly is no "right to bolt" or whatever that applies to non-Wilderness land. Regulation will often address overall climber impact rather than just fixed anchors but fixed anchors are often a big part of the picture.

Hope this helps.

John


tahquitztwo


Sep 28, 2003, 5:55 PM
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Guess I'll add my two cents......
if you insist on doing bolts, at least definitely find out what's legal or not in the area you're going to bolt and if it's not legal or even slightly questionable....don't be an idiot and do something that will cause problems for the majority of climbers who respect area closures.
Thanks!
And.....if you do bolt please learn how to do it properly.....I've seen really bad bolts out there....new but bad in terms of whether they would do any good if you fall on them. :roll:


mungeclimber


Oct 14, 2003, 1:19 PM
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In reply to:
Guess I'll add my two cents......
if you insist on doing bolts, at least definitely find out what's legal or not in the area you're going to bolt and if it's not legal or even slightly questionable....don't be an idiot and do something that will cause problems for the majority of climbers who respect area closures.
Thanks!
And.....if you do bolt please learn how to do it properly.....I've seen really bad bolts out there....new but bad in terms of whether they would do any good if you fall on them. :roll:

interesting tenor of your post. But rest assured, I never "insist" on doing bolts. If it works out it works out.

I'm definitely trying to find out what is and is not legal. and if slightly questionable, i'm going to find out what is and is not precisely legal. Hence my question about the precise boundaries.

And if I bolt, i will "learn" most assuredly, especially since I've been placing bolts for over 10 years, that won't be hard to do.


mungeclimber


Oct 14, 2003, 1:30 PM
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Greg, thanks hombre. These are precisely the issues. I checked the 7.5 map and it shows the boundary but the crags are right on the line, and without greater detail there is no way to be sure if they are in or outside the line, and thus whether or not power drills would be legal. Your #4 below turns out to not be so crucial for me, though I thought it was. The road is not the determining factor since it is pretty far away from the boundary relatively speaking. I talked to someone at AF, and at this point not much to do since there is not interim closure, and i'd rather not instigate one. But my main objective will be to get a dialogue going with local land managers just in general.

Thx,


In reply to:
mungeclimber,

1) the border of Wilderness areas are determined by acts of Congress, and the lines are clearly defined on USGS maps and most other maps. If there is any question about a specific area, just get the USGS 7.5 minute map for the area, and the Wilderness boundary will be clearly shown.

2) New bolts are allowed in Wilderness, but they must be hand drilled. A few local Wilderness areas have been closed to new bolting of any kind, by local managers or as an interim management step. In Red Rocks, NV, the canyons are currently closed to any bolting of any kind, but this is only an interim step. No other Wilderness areas in or near CA are closed like this as far as I'm aware.

3) No cars are permitted inside Wilderness areas, all roads are closed inside the boundaries. However, some roads are "cherry stemmed" through Wilderness in the original Act that designates that Wilderness (such as the Dusy trail, which is a hard-core 4x4 trail leaving from Courtright Reservoir). All roads that are closed should be blocked and signed, although occasionally the signs are torn down and people drive in anyway.

4) Wilderness boundaries are often only 30' off the center line of certain roads, such as the Dusy trail. Sometimes they are 100' off the center line. But the detailed USGS maps show the lines.

5) It doesn't matter what agency (NPS, USFS, BLM) manages the land, the rules for Wilderness are all the same (no power drills allowed). The only exception is when the local managers have issued further regulations, but those should be widely known or signed (such as the interim bolt ban in Red Rocks canyons, signs everywhere). However, the local managers may extend rules to non-Wilderness areas, such as the Lower Merced cliffs in Yosemite (Cookie, Arch, etc), which are not in Wilderness, but the NPS has banned power drill use anywhere in Yosemite National Park, even outside Wilderness.

Hope that clears it up.

Greg


boltdude


Oct 14, 2003, 2:45 PM
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mungeclimber,

If you're talking about a rock formation right on the border (and if you can't distinguish on a 7.5' map it's cutting it close), best to stick with the hand drill. If you really want, the Wilderness boundaries are legally defined by wording and reference points in the initial Act that created that Wilderness, and you can look them up in that Act (either the original Wilderness Act or later additions), but that will be a big pain, and besides if you're not a surveyor you probably wouldn't be able to figure out the exact boundaries as well as the USGS did. However, the Wilderness lines on some USGS maps are sometimes slightly off - the only definite case I know of is in the Split Rocks area of Josh.

Greg


mungeclimber


Oct 14, 2003, 3:21 PM
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yeah, that's the kicker. There probably is no way to get that precise on boundaries without a survey crew.

thx,


mesomorf


Oct 14, 2003, 4:09 PM
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In reply to:
The boundries of most wilderness areas are pretty well defined. Each land manager should be able to provide a map which shows the borders.

I dunno about this. Telling whether a given crag is inside or outside of an imaginary line while on the ground can be anyone's guess, until it's actually surveyed. The perimeters of most wilderness areas have not been walked; they exist only on maps.


alpinerockfiend


Oct 14, 2003, 4:41 PM
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Re: Bolts in Wilderness (legal and access issues) [In reply to]
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I have one major question: Who is going to see the fixed anchors besides climbers? Often times fixed anchors provide the most convenient, as well as the safest, means of descent. I know that on many of the trade routes in the wilderness area I spend the most time climbing in (the Wind Rivers), it's very common to descend by rappel from fixed slings, and occasionally bolts and pins. As long as there is no major sport-climbing type development within designated wilderness, how would anybody besides climbers ever know?


billcoe_


Oct 15, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Alpinerockfiend: You sir: obviously are fortunate to live in a land of big sky, and beautiful vast big sky at that.

Best walk outside RIGHT NOW and take another hard look at the beauty and vastness: cause it's going away. Fast.

Furthermore: the money-driven self-appointed "managers" will find your address and location soon enough and f* up your area too. I'd load and hide your guns and crank in the bolts real quick. No place is safe I'm saddened to say, and most of these pussies calling themselves "citizens" are not only letting the bastards do it to us, hell, we're paying them to do it to us. Is that the most f*ed up thing you've ever seen or what?

Regards to free men everywhere: overthrow the USFS and let them find real jobs.

Bill


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