Over the last several months, the climbing community has been working with the Bureau of Land Management to protect and manage habitat for golden eagles while ensuring that climbers retained access to one of the premier climbing destinations in the Pacific Northwest.  In February, BLM closed the area to protect raptor habitat.  After some discussions with representatives from the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, the Mazamas and Central Oregon Rocks, BLM switched to a voluntary closure and committed to a public process to determine future management.

Following up on that commitment, BLM recently published an Environmental Assessment for the Trout Creek Climbing Area in Central Oregon, and the public now has an opportunity to provide input until September 15, 2012.  Comments should be directed to BLM_OR_PR_Mail@blm.gov with the subject line of “Trout Creek EA.”

The staff at the Prineville Office of BLM have been very collaborative and expressed a commitment to ensuring continued climbing access to Trout Creek.   The EA reflects a high level of cooperation between the land manager and the climbing community.  BLM has proposed Alternative 2 as its preferred alternative, which would allow the agency to manage the Main Wall and Cool Wall independently with appropriate buffers and would include trail upgrades to reduce erosion and improve access.  BLM now needs to hear from the public that Alternative 2 is the right way to manage the area.

Here are some suggested talking points:

– Alternative 2 is the best way to protect raptor habitat while preserving climbing access and providing the agency with flexibility in managing the resource.

– The climbing community is committed to protecting the resource and helping to steward Trout Creek.  The proposed trail improvements will be a good addition and will provide people with opportunities to volunteer in management of the area.

– Trout Creek is a world-class climbing destination that should be protected and promoted consistent with the sustainable resource management.  Climbers contribute to the unique history and culture of the region as well as the local economy of Madras and Jefferson County.

Thanks to everyone that chipped in to make Trout Creek the incredible place that it is and especially to those that send their comments into BLM.  Hopefully climbers will be able to enjoy Trout Creek for many years to come. Feel free to contact Chris Winter at the Crag Law Center if you have any questions – chris@crag.org or 503-525-2725.