Mid Atlantic Climbers (MAC) holds its first Harpers Ferry Adopt a Crag,
MAC educates the local climbing community about the temporary climbing closure for raptor nesting season.
MAC educates the local climbing community about the temporary climbing closure for raptor nesting season, and hosts its second Adopt a Crag at the Park in April. In October, MAC and Access Fund (AF) meet with the Park to discuss continued coordination around the seasonal raptor closures.
In December, a MAC volunteer notices a new trail in the Park, and MAC reports the unauthorized trail to Park staff.
MAC works to educate the local climbing community about the damage caused by the illegal trail, and encourages climbers to report vandalism and violations in local climbing areas.
In April, MAC and AF meet with Park staff to discuss a process to develop a Climbing Management Plan that would include a public comment period. However, in June 2017, the Park’s Superintendent’s Compendium is revised – without consideration of stakeholder input and without consultation with local and national climbing organizations – to include new climbing restrictions, including closing all climbing in Virginia and West Virginia.
In September, a draft Climbing Management Plan is shared with MAC and AF by Park staff. In an email, Park staff commits to work cooperatively with the climbing community and hold a public meeting that Fall to solicit input on the Climbing Management Plan – even though they notify MAC that the Superintendent’s Compendium with new climbing restrictions had already been signed. No public meeting or further collaboration occurs that fall.
In October, MAC Adopt a Crag volunteers remove graffiti and naturalize the illegal trail.
In December, the Park posts the new climbing restrictions on its website without informing MAC and AF.
In April, MAC and AF request a meeting with Park staff to discuss the 2017 Superintendent’s memo and climbing access.
In June, Harpers Ferry issues a temporary closure to climbing on Maryland Heights due to a landslide and construction vehicle traffic on Sandy Hook Road. The landslide is not located near the climbing areas identified in the temporary closure, and the park does not close the Maryland Heights hiking trail to the public.
In July, MAC and AF send a letter to express our disappointment with the rock climbing restrictions and urge Harpers Ferry to initiate a transparent, collaborative process to determine a management strategy that integrates National Park Service (NPS) climbing management best practices that allow new and historic rock climbing activities while protecting park resources, NPS staff, and park visitors.
In February, MAC and AF send a letter to express our disappointment in the continued lack of public engagement and reiterate our request to lift the closures of climbing in the West Virginia and Virginia portions of the park and the temporary closure to climbing on Maryland Heights. After failing to hear back from the Park, MAC in partnership with AF launches the #ClimbHarpersFerry advocacy campaign to collect input from the community on the climbing closures.
In March, MAC and Outdoor Alliance (OA) speak with the Park over the phone, and are told to wait two weeks for an update. MAC volunteers continue to work with Harpers Ferry staff staff on climbing related projects in the Park.
In May, MAC, AF, and partners announce that more than 500 local climbers have urged Harpers Ferry to lift the current climbing closures and work with the community to develop a Climbing Management Plan based on public input and best practices.
On August 1, the Maryland Heights landslide and seasonal peregrine falcon closures were lifted, and the climbing community was informed later in the month. MAC notified the community of the news.
In February, MAC informed the climbing community about seasonal peregrine falcon closures for Maryland Heights. MAC and partners were in full support of the seasonal closures.
In March, MAC, AF, and partners met with the Park to discuss next steps, and agreed to continue discussions towards re-opening some areas of the Park to climbing.
In August, MAC, AF, and AAC met with NPS contractors who are designing a survey for the local climbing community. Through this meeting MAC and partners were informed that the Park was again moving forward with a climbing management plan. Also in August, the seasonal peregrine falcon closures were lifted and MAC shared that information with the local climbing community.
In October, MAC and AF met with the Park, contractors, and other NPS staff to further discuss the survey and impending climbing management plan. MAC and AF were informed that an official planning process would not kick off until later in 2021. While there could be an opportunity to reopen some of the closed areas prior to the development of a management plan, there were no clear plans to do so. MAC, AF, and AAC continued to work with the NPS contractors to refine the survey following this meeting.
As more climbers have sought to get outside this year, the importance of access to local climbing areas has never been more clear. MAC and partners look forward to continuing to discuss collaboration between the park and the climbing community on climbing access, management, stewardship, and education, including a plan to lift climbing closures in VA and WV.