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Contact: Ron Terry, 435-772-0160
Contact: Amber Van Alfen, 435 772-0209
Zion National Park will be closing some of the climbing routes at the area known as the “Practice Cliffs”, north of the Court of the Patriarchs. The closure will take effect June 22, 2009. The closure is necessary to protect sensitive archeological resources. Other climbing routes in the same vicinity will remain open unless additional impacts to the archeological resources are identified. The closed areas will be clearly marked with signs and barriers.
Beginning in 1994, park archeologists, created baseline standards to assess impacts and disturbances to archeological resources in the area known as the “Practice Cliffs”. Over the years an increase of human caused impacts has been documented. Specific impacts of concern are social trails, installation of climbing hardware and use of chalk. Social trails are ground disturbing which may lead to further erosion, loss of cultural deposits, accumulation of debris and vegetation, and damage to cultural remnants. Installation of climbing hardware has resulted in damage to archeological sites and creates a defined route which may lead to future damage by continued use. Climbing chalk on archeological features introduces chemicals and oils to sensitive surfaces which can lead to an increase of erosion. Park archeologists will continue to monitor the closures to provide accurate data and to ensure compliance.
While recreational climbing can be a challenging and rewarding activity; the sensitive resources in Zion National Park require protective measures to ensure the preservation of the park’s cultural heritage. Zion National Park appreciates the public’s cooperation in preserving cultural resources. For more information, contact Amber Van Alfen at 435-772-0209.