Climbing Management Plan Civic Engagement Summary

Methods of Engagement

Joshua Tree National Park held a civic engagement period during Pre-NEPA activities for the climbing management plan. The park held a virtual public meeting, including a question and answer session, on April 20, 2021. The park has also held several smaller climbing stakeholder meetings and with tribes. Public comments were accepted from April 14 to June 13, 2021. The park hosts and maintains a climbing plan website and Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) web page. The park solicited comments with a series of leading questions posted to PEPC. Questions prompted the public to consider issues related to the purpose and need of the plan: social trails, potential impacts to sensitive cultural resources, climbing and fixed anchors in wilderness, fixed anchor replacement, visitor experience effects from fixed anchor presence, fixed anchor placement/replacement permitting criteria, and the option to comment on anything not otherwise specified.

Summary of Comments Received

The park received over 2,400 comments related to trails, fixed anchors, wilderness, and sensitive cultural and natural resources. Some themes include:

  • Concern for potential loss of climbing opportunities;

  • Concern that changes to management of fixed anchors in wilderness would impact climbing safety;

  • Concern that prohibition of electric drills in wilderness would prevent fixed anchor maintenance;

  • Concern that Joshua Tree is proposing precedent setting policy different from other parks;

  • Concern for sensitive resources such as archeological sites and vegetation;

  • Support for formalizing a limited number of trails in heavily used climbing areas; and

  • Suggestion that fixed anchors should not be allowed in wilderness.

The National Park Service used comments from civic engagement to inform which issues will be carried forward for analysis in the environmental assessment and help shape a preliminary proposed plan and potential alternatives. Issues carried forward include:

  • Social trail impacts on natural and cultural resources;

  • Potential climber impacts on lichens and sensitive plant species from trampling, loss of soil crust, and erosion;

  • Potential climber impacts on nesting raptors (birds of prey);

  • Potential climber impacts on cultural resources, including rock art and ethnography, from direct and indirect disturbances;

  • The park is historically and culturally significant for traditionally associated Native American communities;

  • Current management practices are not consistent with new policy guidance on fixed anchors in wilderness; and

  • Potential safety issues with aging bolts that need replacement.

Last updated: January 13, 2022

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