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LeavenworthMA

Welcome Leavenworth Climbing Rangers

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Sol, Your post above goes a long way in explaining things, thanks much for bringing us up to speed. Sounds like you guys are on it.

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I'd still like to know what problems these rangers are going to solve and how that success will be measured. Fire rings? OK< that covers the first week of employment. Rescues? We've that covered with SAR and the military. Maintaining anchors? Come on.

 

I'd also appreciate it if the opinions of those who know the Icicle and oppose this move based on numerous negative experiences with the FS both locally and in other states not be shouted down with the ITS A DONE DEAL or whatever. It's not a done deal. It's a two year demonstration project, you know, like the NW Forest Pass. We laid down on that fleecing operation.

 

The FS, if it measures the 'success' or 'productivity' of these new ranger positions at all, will measure what it can measure - fees and fines collected being the easiest number to come up with. The FS new philosophy has been to 'run it like a business' - and 'market outdoor products'. Well, the public wilderness is not a product to be sold.

 

The FS may play nice at first, but eventually I wonder if it'll just be two more cops putting up no camping signs on the last remaining free sites on the Icicle and ticketing accordingly. No bootleg camping in the Icicle leaves two choices - driving to another area (not the most environmentally friendly policy) or reserving a site at one of the Icicles crowded Campgrounds and paying up. Goodbye spontaneity.

 

If the FS was substituting two of its ground level factotums for more skilled climbing ranger positions, that would be one thing. If the FS had exhibited the same flexibility and autonomy of, say, Mt. Rainiers climbing rangers (excellent bunch IMO) - it certainly hasn't in the Enchantments, that might soften my opposition.

 

It looks to me like the FS is just adding two more cops, however. Why the climbing community would the inevitable reduced access and freedom to climb on the fly is utterly beyond me.

 

If poo is a problem in specific areas (It's not in most climbing spots), spend the money to put up a privy, rather than hire a poo cop. I'm not sure how that enforcement is going to work, but that's not a job I'd want, personally.

 

Forgive my skepticism, but after our recent fiasco at the hands of the FS in the Winds, I feel its well justified.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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I guess I don't understand why the USFS claims it has to close 75% of its roads--including many popular trailhead access avenues--and yet can still find money for two new positions.

 

 

Good Question FW. I don't mean to sound cynical but it is all about the money - follow the money and you will have your answer. Federal agents, when deployed right, can be effective revenue generators for the government. Maintaining roads, on the other hand, will not generate revenue. I moved to Socal from the PNW a couple of years ago and I have seen the future. Agents everywhere collecting money in any way possible. It is difficult to hike or even drive without being accosted by an armed agent. My wife was recently issued a citation for "stand up paddling without a permit".

 

Wow! Ridiculous!

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Run it like a business. Market outdoor products.

 

Welcome to the new, free market FS. Coming to a beautiful and free climbing area near you.

 

This business has guns and a prison system, however.

 

Let's monetize together!

 

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Just wanted to point out a couple quotes:

 

If poo is a problem in specific areas (It's not in most climbing spots), spend the money to put up a privy, rather than hire a poo cop.
The Cirque. It’s famous. It’s beautiful. And it’s full of poo – under every rock, it seems.

 

Times are changing - there is a queue for every popular route and wilderness routes see dozens of users every week. To pretend that climbers can manage themselves is to ignore stuff like poo under every rock in areas like the Cirque, tick marks on every boulder within 50' of a trail and grid bolted areas like the New and the Red.

 

As for funding... just wanted to point out that the cost to taxpayers for a non-permanent USFS seasonal employee is roughly $3,000 / month. is $56K for 2 years. You won't get many roads maintained for $56K.

 

Personally I think it's great to see the USFS hire rangers who will focus on climbing instead of two more clueless visitor center greeters. So they do stupid things like gloat about kicking over cairns - give them a break - they're kids & they'll learn.

Edited by wfinley

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As I mentioned, if it was a substitution for two clueless positions, I'd probably be for it. It's not - it's two more cops in the already most heavily policed wilderness in WA. If I trusted the FS to have the same reasonable culture as Rainier's most excellent climbing rangers, I might feel better. I simply don't, and that's based on experience. I see this as a way to police the Icicle in the same way the Enchantments are policed. No thank you.

 

The National Park system also doesn't exhibit the same 'monetize everything' ethic as the FS. I don't trust it.

 

Also, rangers are not the best solution for a poo problem - they're almost never there. Read on for better alternatives.

 

The Icicle is vastly different from the Cirque in a number of ways.

 

1) The Cirque is remote and spread out. Privvies would not work there - you'd need 20 of them (no one's going to tiptoe that far to poo). That would only destroy the wilderness character of the area. Also, the Cirque HAS a real poo problem.

 

In contrast, the Icicle's bouldering area poo problem, if it exists (I haven't seen a poo problem in the Icicle, and I've been climbing there for over 3 decades - but I don't hang out at the bouldering areas, either), is very concentrated and near the road. These two areas are not in the same scenic universe, nor do they share the same level of wilderness character (the bouldering areas are essentially some rocks and some trees next to a road). Privvies would probably be a good solution at the bouldering areas. 60K (2 x 2) should cover that cost handily, I would think.

 

2) The Cirque is very wet, the N side of the Icicle is not. Lonesome Lake (500' below the Cirque) is closed for camping due to fecal contamination - most likely from the Cirque above. There is little opportunity for that same level of contamination in the Icicle's bouldering areas, unless someone's got such a bad case of projectile elimination that clearing the road and hitting the creek is a real possibility.

 

 

What's the solution for the Cirque's poo problem? Blue bags are the only thing I can think of. Not a popular alternative, perhaps, but I don't see anything else that would mitigate the issue as effectively without destroying the basin's stunning wilderness character. Blue bags work at Rainier and Yosemite, and it seems only right that the climbers in the Cirque take care of their own rather than gifting it to everyone else.

 

Blue bags could be made available at the TH or through a free permit system. Compliance wouldn't be 100%, of course, but there are enough climbers out there who are no strangers to the utility of a gallon freezer bag to greatly mitigate the problem. Eventually, as in Yosemite and on Rainier, awareness would spread and the problem would be reduced. Most folks want to do the right thing, but few people we talked to in the Cirque even know that Lonesome Lake is literally a shit hole now. If they did, they would be far more likely to make the sacrifice.

 

Plus, a properly equipped and trained climber will then be able to poo anywhere as the need strikes - on a department store floor, whatever, without a trace.

 

Now that's real freedom.

 

I do appreciate the difficulty of creating employment in a small town, BTW.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Thanks for the post.

 

I don't frequent the bouldering areas, but I haven't seen much negative impact anywhere else in the Icicle. The trails are a little more burned in (no pun intended), but it's substantially the same place I've been climbing in for the past 30 years. In other words, this seems like a redux of the Boston Basin Bear Canister regulation - when was the last time anyone saw a bear in there again? Ie, solving a problem that doesn't really exist. Government agencies come up with problems to solve all the time - the War on Drugs comes to mind. That doesn't make them real, nor does it justify the particular action being proposed.

 

If the program continues, I suspect these nice, brochure-handing out rangers will sooner or later become what they actually are: cops with a ticket book who will herd overnight climbers towards the expensive and crowded campgrounds or, when they are full, which they always are high season, out of the Icicle entirely.

 

This issue applies to out of towners only, of course - hence one explanation, perhaps, for the very different attitudes between locals and non regarding this substantial geographic increase in enforcement. If you're a local, camping, or lack thereof, isn't an issue.

 

Think about it.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Interesting that it's a state agency providing the funding for a ranger position on federal land. Goes to show how broken the FS is. Cost 56k.

 

"The primary recreation opportunity provided by this project is responsible use and continued access to hundreds of climbing areas and thousands of climbing routes in the popular Leavenworth area."

 

Of course that is the intent of the Recreation & Conservation Office. Not sure how much control they have over it's actual implementation.

 

 

 

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I'm left wondering about all the rare plants (lichen? poison ivy?) being trampled and how many rare chipmunks are being disturbed from all the climbing ruckus. The goats certainly seem happy with us. The high country, sure, but in the Icicle? Hmmmm. More details on that? Some actual data, even?

 

The position sounds like a roving sign kiosk. Wouldn't, you know, a stationary one in the right place 24/7 be a bit more to the point? And cheaper?

 

The state's money would be better spent targeting climbing gyms for re-education than a few bouldering areas, I would think. Get these indescriminately pooing hipsters in their spawning grounds. It's likely gym owners would get on board with the poo-ducation program if they were aware of the problem and asked.

 

But hey, more cops (and more bloated district FS offices)! It's the American way.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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Not only will you be carrying blue bags Pat you'll soon be carrying a urine container in the high country as well. Nothing causes more damage in the alpine than the frantic consumption of your urine by mountain goats. A bear container will be mandatory as well lest we see more of these "climbers methods for hanging food". Or maybe just a well sealed ziplock in your urine container will suffice.

 

I'm honestly alarmed by the facebook photos that contain pics of the staging zone at the foot of Snow Creek Wall, or a slightly rearranged bivi ledge on Serpentine Arete. No reason the FS couldn't decide that due to impacts SCW now requires a permit much like the Enchantments.

 

 

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I drink my own urine. Light and fast!

 

I'm afraid of hanging food these days, since the last time I did the FS confiscated it, er, actually they stole it for personal use, then told us the only reason we weren't dinged for $200 was that our confiscation wasn't performed properly. At least a bear would have left his calling card. The offending ranger didn't even bother to leave a note.

 

That area below Snow Creek Wall is chock full of sensitive plant life. It's all dead (it's basically an enormous avi debri hell), but still. And Dog forbid climbers should trample the debris fan at the base of the wall itself. SUPER SENSITIVE!

 

This program represents a disturbing precedence for what are essentially road side climbing areas in general. Since these places probably get more visitors than any other climbing related place, the fee potential here is huge and untapped. An already heavily staffed district office that can't even pay for its own MUCH NEEDED NEW POSITIONS would be insane to keep giving this outdoor product away for free.

 

But hey, climbers got to participate in a roundtable (after the fact). Funny, the FS didn't bother to consult the climbing community before it made this decision, when such input would have actually made any difference. Hmmmm. Sounds like the community is already being managed pretty effectively.

 

Forgive me if many years of dealing with spectacular public policy disasters have made me somewhat dubious regarding what is promised versus what actually winds up happening, particularly over the long term. I know there are good people in the FS. This sounds a lot like other slippery slopes, however.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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The shift in attitude at the federal offices that oversee public land is worrisome. I get the sense that most of the agencies would prefer to keep people on pavement, looking in. Easier to manage and they won't step on something "sensitive". Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seemed like the older attitude at the federal level was that parks and wilderness areas were set aside to be recreated in, not just looked at. I'm not for trashing the backcountry, but it seems like the pendulum is swinging pretty far away from helping encourage recreation. Sanitation problems aside, if folks can't tolerate bouldering and cragging areas with some erosion and social trails, we aren't far from being regulated out of existence.

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The state's money would be better spent targeting climbing gyms for re-education than a few bouldering areas, I would think. Get these indescriminately pooing hipsters in their spawning grounds. It's likely gym owners would get on board with the poo-ducation program if they were aware of the problem and asked.

 

 

That is a good idea. Most climbers jump on the leave-no-trace bandwagon sooner or later when properly educated and tend to self-police pretty well.

 

But, if there are places (and I'm not saying that Leavenworth qualifies) that continue to have a problem, and ranger presence is the only way to get certain idiots to not drop a deuce willy-nilly in a sensitive or heavily used area, then I'm OK with rangers on poo patrol. The freedom to not run into a cop in the woods is weighed against the freedom to not dodge human excrement. That decision should be made carefully.

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The shift in attitude at the federal offices that oversee public land is worrisome. I get the sense that most of the agencies would prefer to keep people on pavement, looking in. Easier to manage and they won't step on something "sensitive". Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seemed like the older attitude at the federal level was that parks and wilderness areas were set aside to be recreated in, not just looked at. I'm not for trashing the backcountry, but it seems like the pendulum is swinging pretty far away from helping encourage recreation. Sanitation problems aside, if folks can't tolerate bouldering and cragging areas with some erosion and social trails, we aren't far from being regulated out of existence.

 

Right now I follow the rules and permits to a t, even when I don't like them. If the pendulum swings this way, I'll poach the shit out of the "managed" areas.

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I agree on both points. Nothing pisses me off more than a dook sculpture iced with unburned paper, unless that sculpture has a fire ring as a base. The reality is, of course, that there is seldom a ranger around when a rare chipmunk disturbing deuce is being dropped, so education is the key. Why people STILL have to be potty trained how to shit in the woods is beyond me, but whatev.

 

I question hiring a full blown cop for public education, if that's the only objective. It's not, obviously. Anyone can teach generation Y how to poo without disgusting the rest of the climbing community, even if their fawning parents didn't.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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The shift in attitude at the federal offices that oversee public land is worrisome. I get the sense that most of the agencies would prefer to keep people on pavement, looking in. Easier to manage and they won't step on something "sensitive". Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seemed like the older attitude at the federal level was that parks and wilderness areas were set aside to be recreated in, not just looked at. I'm not for trashing the backcountry, but it seems like the pendulum is swinging pretty far away from helping encourage recreation. Sanitation problems aside, if folks can't tolerate bouldering and cragging areas with some erosion and social trails, we aren't far from being regulated out of existence.

 

Right now I follow the rules and permits to a t, even when I don't like them. If the pendulum swings this way, I'll poach the shit out of the "managed" areas.

 

Bootlegging the Enchantments has gotten increasingly difficult as the FS headcount has blossomed. Programs like that tend to find and plug the holes over time. Not that I would ever go in there without a permit, mind you.

 

Patrolling a roadside climbing area is far easier than the backcountry, so the FS could lock the place up pretty air tight and there'd be no escaping it. If you doubt this, I present to you the NW Forest Pass!

 

If the program proves to be 'cost effective', it will be quickly franchised elsewhere. That's the way it works.

 

I don't fault the local climbers who support this for their efforts or intentions. They are guilty only of naivete, and that's certainly no crime.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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though the NW Forest Pass appears to be in its end-of-life...there have been a few significant court decisions against it in the last year. Things are being appealed but it does not look good. I have been testing them at a handful of THs and at least in OR and southern WA either I am getting very lucky or they are no longer enforcing while they maintain the signage.

 

Anyways I've followed similar discussions on other outdoors sites, it seems from a high level the USFS desire is to concentrate recreation, especially into more accessible places, and to regulate/manage/permit/quota it. Oh, and 'harness' the power of the private market to deal with aspects of this, essentially hooking up the public teat into the private sector's wallet.

 

 

But back to this at hand. Indeed whats done is done, and it is a two year program that seem somewhat fluffy in education, but hey if educational modalities alter behavior enough to mitigate whatever quantified impacts, then thats an easier path to walk. I think unfortunately the reality is the trend of permits/regulation has the inertia of a freight train behind it.

 

As NoahT asked about other places that maybe had an issue, then got rangers then things improved, etc, does anyone know of a case of recreation where there was an issue (manufactured or real, or real but exaggerated a bit) where an educational campaign ameliorated the most pressing concerns and 'fixed' the problem to let it be sustainably-self managing? serious question.

 

An actual avenue that all these outdoor clubs and associations could take with the USFS is to try to get reassurance that this won't lead to permits and quotas, or if they don't give such reassurance, try to get concrete benchmarks of what threshold of degradation or whatever has to occur that prompts that type of action. It would be great to get some type of formal assurance instead of entering interaction on good faith, being as one of the partners (USFS) has very little standing to trust. This is what I mean what you say can and will be used against you--those two employees on the ground might be fine people but the info they report, possibly freely given from these user groups/clubs, just provides justification for superiors to implement some fee structure or whatever other bullshit.

Edited by Water

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And they'll have zero say re most of the regulations they enforce. Much of that is decided much higher.

 

I believe in freight trains, and I also believe in being in the drivers seat. We've just seen that happen right here in Washington - we took control of the freight train. Fuck you 41 years of waste and cruelty called the Drug War. This issue is no different. The Icicle may eventually become a pay per view amusement park, but only if the public lays down and takes it. The NW Pass lawsuits, should they prevail, will provide another example of taking control of the train. Agencies often respond to focused pressure - who wants to deal with the hassle? This can and has thwarted agendas established in far away places by people who know little about our state and care less about the climbing community.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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The shift in attitude at the federal offices that oversee public land is worrisome. I get the sense that most of the agencies would prefer to keep people on pavement, looking in. Easier to manage and they won't step on something "sensitive". Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seemed like the older attitude at the federal level was that parks and wilderness areas were set aside to be recreated in, not just looked at. I'm not for trashing the backcountry, but it seems like the pendulum is swinging pretty far away from helping encourage recreation. Sanitation problems aside, if folks can't tolerate bouldering and cragging areas with some erosion and social trails, we aren't far from being regulated out of existence.

 

Well said Jason. And money and ideology are powerful motivators.

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So what role will this new ranger play in terms of route development? I personally don't clean and outfit new areas, but there seems to be a contingent (Zonk, Brad, et.al.) who go to great lengths on their own dime to expand the climbing playground so climbers aren't so concentrated. I (we) benefit from their efforts. Will it be determined that the cracks and slabs they're cleaning is disturbing rare flora and lichen? If so, will they eventually have to wait for an impact study before they can scrub and outfit? Apply for a permit.

 

I agree with those who have stated that adding layers of bureaucracy is not the answer.

 

Will this ranger's studies and conclusions be peer reviewed? Made accessible to the climbing community? Through Facebook updates?

 

I am Just curious and highly suspicious based on my own run-ins with rangers in the Enchantments.

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Are the climbing rangers core climbers that have been appointed rangers, like in Yosemite?

 

Why have the Leavenworth climbing rangers not chimed in yet to add their personal perspective on this discussion?

Edited by tradhead

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Are the climbing rangers core climbers that have been appointed rangers, like in Yosemite?

 

Why have the Leavenworth climbing rangers not chimed in yet to add their personal perspective on this discussion?

b/c they know what happens when you go pig-wrassling? :)

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