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Madrone Wall (OR) Feb 1st Seasonal Closure

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Greetings Climbers:

I am not sure if it's best to continue to post Madrone Wall related issues or not since it finally reopened to the public in October, but I'll post it here anyways for now...

I am sure that some of you are not on Facebook, but I will share our page and most recent link in this post.

A few reminders: The park will continue to remain open through January 31st from 7am to 4pm each day. Please pay the $5 parking fee or purchase a 6 month or annual pass if you plan to use other Clackamas County parks. Also, please do not get stuck behind the closed gate after 4pm. You will be fined and towed at your expense. Also, there are no official or established trails from the wall to the top of the cliffs. There are only two access trails from the parking lot to the wall. For those that are curious as to whether there are more hiking trails out there or not, the short answer is "NO." Please do not wander off the two main trails or try and access beyond the wall, as private property borders County land on above and to the sides of the cliff. There are plans to build more trails above the wall in 2018 in partnership with REI and some of our climbing gyms, so stay tuned.

Please pay attention to the rules for park use that the County has established. Educate yourself before you go out there. Thank you!

General Info for Clackamas County Parks: http://www.clackamas.us/parks/

Specific Madrone Wall Park Info: http://www.clackamas.us/parks/madronewall.html

The entire park will close on February 1st for nesting peregrines. Keith, myself, our DFW Raptor Specialist, and anyone else with a basic level of experience is welcome to help us monitor the falcons. We can go into big online dialogue about the positives or negatives around falcon closures, but it is what it is, and we have to work with the County and nature on this one. The birds are going to do what they want, and that includes finding what they determine to be a safe and quiet place to (hopefully) raise their offspring. While they are no longer in danger of becoming extinct and have been de-listed at the federal and state level, seasonal closures continue to happen at many of our favorite crags: Beacon, Smith Rock, and now the Madrone is included in that. The falcons began showing up in 2010, but were never monitored formally until last Spring.

These closures at many of our favorite climbing spots protects the birds, but closures also protect humans if they feel that their chicks are being threatened. They will attack you if you come too close to their nest. The wall length at the Madrone isn't very long (a little more than 1000 feet) and the distance of the closure on either side of the nest takes up most of the wall. Besides, one of the trails comes up underneath the historical nest, and the noise from human activity ( garbage/recycling pick up, vault toilet cleaning, lawnmowers, and car horns or other human activity) can scare young chicks, causing them to fall from the nest, or anger the parents. You are probably familiar with the closures at Smith for nesting raptors: Kiss of the Leepers, Picnic Lunch Wall, Monument Area, and even the rim camping sites at the Climbers Bivy. Yes, you get to miss out on some of your favorite climbs and projects for a few months, but that gives you opportunities to focus in on other routes and let wildlife do their thing in their own space.

There has been a fabulous dialogue on our FB page from all sorts of different angles and perspectives. At least we are talking about it. And the more we are all educated on these issues, including sharing our crags with wildlife, many of us feel that only positives will result in the long run, especially in the eyes of the land managers. So, I am going to borrow the quote by one of the FB commenters who has been volunteering a ton of their personal time out at the Madrone: "Please respect the closure when it starts, and don't be the person that ruins access to the cliff for everyone else. Whether you agree with the closure or not, it will be closed, and the falcons will be monitored for patterns and habits. And if we can respect the closure and work with the county on it, hopefully we can get earlier opening dates. But that won't happen if people poach the cliff during the closures."

Keith and I will be meeting with the County at the end of January to draft a Raptor Management Plan since the County does not have one. We will pull plans from other climbing areas, and we hope to incorporate a "2 weeks after fledging opening date" instead of a fixed opening date. We will be watching for key behaviors that would indicate whether there is an active eyrie or not, and this includes food being brought to the nest at any point between March and June. One parent will leave the nest while the other hunts. They will never leave their eggs or chicks alone for fear of another animal preying on them. If we can determine that there is not an active eyrie, we will (hopefully) include language in the plan that they County to re-open the park for recreation before the typical July 15 opening date if we can document that there is not a succcessful eyrie, or even if the falcons have re-located, which can happen, too. They may not move for good, but they can relocate for a year.

Please message me here or on FB if you are interested in helping with the monitoring.

Most recent FB post: https://www.facebook.com/madronewall/posts/1476030902509442?comment_id=1476079679171231

Here is a fabulous link from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukie about some peregrine falcons that they were able to monitor last year. Excellent photos of the male, female, and 4 chicks as they hatched, grew, and took flight. Also you get to understand some of the behavior of the peregrines. Dates are included as to when the photos were taken. Lots of photos & little reading! https://falcon-info.uwm.edu/

Thanks for reading & Happy 2018!

Kellie Rice

President, MWPC




Edited by elaine
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