Many of our country's most beautiful and adventurous climbing areas are on federally managed public lands. From Yosemite's sterling granite walls, to the bloodthirsty off-widths of Vedauwoo, to the ocean-misted cliffs of Acadia, public lands (which include national parks, national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands) are among our greatest treasures.
Public lands are the backbone of the outdoor recreation economy, generating $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs annually. With the REC Act signed into law, we now have government data on the significant contribution and growth of the outdoor economy.
Despite these recreational and economic benefits, we are experiencing unprecedented threats to our public lands. Both state and federal lawmakers have introduced measures to sell off or transfer millions of acres to the states. These efforts are being promoted as a way to improve and localize land management. While some states do a good job of managing state lands, others can’t foot the expense and end up selling or developing the land. For example, Comb Ridge near Bluff, Utah sold to the highest bidder in late 2016, barring access to popular climbing, camping and hiking areas. While federal lands are held in trust for all people, state lands are often at risk for closure.
Other attacks to public lands include efforts to weaken public management, underfund land management agencies and increase development at the cost of public access. These measures threaten climbing on our public lands and the fundamental American notion that our public lands belong to everyone. Here’s where your Club stands on the issue:
Public Lands Should Remain in Public Hands
Climbing on public lands is part of our national heritage.
Keeping public lands public guarantees that we have a say in how they are managed.
We oppose any measure to sell or transfer public lands to states or other entities. State ownership puts access at risk.
The Antiquities Act and The Wilderness Act are foundational laws to protect recreation on public lands; the authority of both must be preserved.
Public Lands Support Healthy, Vibrant and Economically Sustainable Communities
Public lands draw visitors from all over the world, and they attract and retain knowledge workers in gateway communities.
Recreating on our public lands makes for healthier citizens, inspires stewardship of the natural world, and provides an unparalleled quality of life.
Outdoor educators and climbing guides depend on public lands to teach climbers how to practice our craft in a safe and environmentally sensitive way.
Public Lands Require Balanced Management, Adequate Resources and Public Involvement
A balanced land management approach is necessary to ensure that wild landscapes remain healthy, culturally significant, biologically diverse, and have high recreational values. We oppose large-scale industrial developments in these landscapes.
Stable, long-term funding for quality public lands management is essential to supporting outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. We encourage the addition of new and non-traditional funding from private and non-profit sources.
We support permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land Water Conservation Fund.
In conflicts over access issues, climbers should work with climbing advocacy organizations, land managers, government agencies and other user groups to find solutions satisfactory to all parties. See the Tyrol Declaration for more information.
Many of these issues are embodied in the debate over Bears Ears National Monument. Click below to learn more.
Banner photo: AAC member Jason Gebauer