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Preliminary Red Rock Wilderness Plan Released for Public Commentary

Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-05-14

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by John Wilder

After several months of waiting, the preliminary Wilderness Plan for Red Rock has been released. Among other things, it contains a significant and somewhat complex plan for allowing bolting within the Wilderness Areas in the park. The Wilderness Areas in the park are: The Canyons- Icebox, Pine Creek, Juniper, Oak Creek, First Creek, Black Velvet, and Mud Springs; as well as Gateway Canyon, better known as the north side of Kraft Mountain (this is where Atman and Sunny and Steep are).

During the time that the Wilderness Plan was being developed, the BLM was also conducting an inventory of current established routes in the park along with the total number of bolts in the park. This inventory is now being used as a basis for allowing future bolting within the Wilderness Areas in Red Rock.

The BLM is proposing a permit system for allowing new and replacement bolts within the wilderness area. All new bolts must be placed with a hand drill.

Permits would work as follows:

  • Replacement Permits- can be obtained by anyone with a minimum of two weeks advance notice.
  • Permit 1- This is for a low bolting density permit. That is, it is a permit that is easily obtainable and does not require public evaluation before being issued. It limits bolts to being at least 100' above ground, less than 3 bolts per pitch, and not within 20' of an existing climb. This permit requires a two week agency review to be issued.
  • Permit 2- This is for a higher bolting density permit. This permit requires public evaluation. This allows new bolts on exisiting routes, bolts within 100' of the ground, or more than 3 bolts per pitch. This permit requires 30 days of review by both the BLM and the public- applications for this permit are accepted on the 10th of each month.

With regards to Permit 2, there are a set list of considerations in order for the route to be eligible for bolts. They include: location of a route (new walls are better than current walls), length of route (longer is better), path of a route (a route that follows features is more desireable than one that doesnt), distance from other routes (further is better), and difficulty of a route.

Most importantly, though, is that the BLM has noted in the plan that only 1,680 new bolts will be allowed in the Red Rock Wilderness Areas. This does not include replacement bolts, but only new installations. Further, that number has been broken down by canyon- Black Velvet only has 164 new bolts allowed, while First Creek has the most at 417.

The new plan is now open for public commentary. The BLM is hosting a public comment session in Las Vegas on May 29th, as well as accepting email and postal comments.

It is important to remember that this plan will have ramifications at other major climbing areas. If you climb, please voice your opinion.

For the full text (pdf file) of the Wilderness Plan, check the PDF file or go here:


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4 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

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Thanks very much. Good general summary -- that's appreciated, as wading through "plans" can be tedious and important points are easily missed. My initial impression is that the "total bolts" limit is bogus, but at least their "thinking" is now before us.
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I agree with the total bolts limit being bogus. Where did they get the number 1680 from? But it is good that the BLM is actually adressing these issues, whereas some other agencies just don't.
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The general idea seems to be okay. I think as a climbing community we could make a false sacrifice by giving up the ability to "ADD BOLTS TO EXISITING ROUTES" in order for them to perhaps explain and give a bit on the "total number of new bolts allowed" which taken out of context seems quite arbitrary.
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Access Alert, indeed. How about a Too Much Access Alert?
Rather than worry about the number of bolts allowed, maybe climbers should be really worried about the development juggernaut than is grinding it's way up hill from the city?
Red Rock's "Wilderness" qualities may soon be a thing of the past, lost in an endless sea of walled communities, traffic jams mini-malls. Has anyone noticed that Las Vegas is trying to take water from Death Valley to fuel the city's continuing, unsustainable growth into the desert?

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