News Release

National Park Service and USDA Forest Service seek public input on proposed guidance for managing climbing, protecting natural and cultural resources in wilderness areas

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Date: December 7, 2023
Contact: Gina Icenoggle, 406-888-5838

WEST GLACIER, Mont. [December 7, 2023] – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) are seeking public input on proposed guidance that would guide agency personnel in managing climbing opportunities on national forests, grasslands and parks. The public is invited to provide input on both agencies’ guidance through Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.

Climbing activities (including rock climbing, snow and ice climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering, and caving) are popular in national forests, national parks and across public lands. Fixed climbing equipment, also referred to as fixed anchors, includes bolts or other equipment that is left permanently in place after the climb. Some fixed anchors may be necessary for safe public use of the resource. The proposed guidance affirms that climbing is an appropriate use of public lands, including in wilderness areas, and should be managed in a manner that helps protect cultural and natural resources.

The draft guidance reflects input received during NPS- and USFS-held Tribal listening and Tribal consultation sessions for Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations and Alaskan Tribes and Organizations. Following the public comment period, the NPS and USFS will develop and publish final policy and guidance informed by public comments.

National Park Service
This draft NPS guidance will help NPS wilderness and climbing managers make informed decisions regarding the placement and/or replacement of permanent bolts, chains, or other climbing equipment used in NPS wilderness areas. The draft guidance outlines the processes for managing existing and new climbing routes in wilderness. The analysis will help NPS determine what level of fixed anchor use best preserves the totality of wilderness character while taking account of human safety concerns.

“Like many in the climbing community, I share a lifelong love and appreciation of outdoor recreation sparked by a childhood spent exploring and enjoying the natural world,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said. “The proposed guidance will help provide a consistent process for installing new or replacing existing fixed anchors in wilderness and ensure that we are managing these important areas for the benefit of current and future generations.”

Glacier National Park is host to premier wilderness climbing and mountaineering and has seen decades of historic climbing use. The park is managed to balance the preservation and protection of natural and cultural resources and visitor experiences. Glacier National Park stakeholders are invited to comment on the proposed guidance for managing climbing, protecting natural and cultural resources in wilderness areas.

Read the full national press release at

Last updated: December 13, 2023

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