Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Return to Trout Creek!

Trout Creek
Back in the fall, sitting at my office desk in Portland, I suddenly started to get emails and messages about a potential closure of Trout Creek, one of the best crags in the Pacific Northwest.  BLM was threatening to close down this incredible gem to protect golden eagle nests in the area, and local climbers were looking for a little help interfacing with the land managers.  I had climbed at Trout a hand full of times and was more than happy to devote a little desk time to the cause if it would help.  Everyone wanted to protect the habitat and give the eagles a chance to nest, but BLM hadn't yet given climbers the opportunity to be a part of the solution.  The issue kind of languished for several weeks and then all of a sudden in January we found out the BLM was implementing an emergency closure without any advance public process.   

Working with the American Alpine Club, the Access Fund and the Mazamas, we pulled together a couple of letters, an action alert, and a quick meeting with the Prineville Office of BLM, which helped to get the agency working in cooperation with a dedicated group of local climbers, including Eric Sorenson, Jeff Wenger and Wally Fox.  Those guys did a great job taking the lead and developing a strong working relationship with the field staff, and BLM, to its credit, did a great job of involving them in decisions affecting Trout Creek.  After these initial discussions, BLM chose to implement a voluntary closure, and everyone started working on a voluntary monitoring program for the crag.  A few weeks after the closure went into effect, lo and behold a pair of goldens took up residence in the nest on the Main Wall, which validated all the efforts made by both the agency and the climbing community.  BLM staff in the Prineville office deserve a lot of credit for partnering with an important user group, and climbers followed through on their commitment to protect raptor habitat. 

For the next several months, the locals kept an eye on the nest, but by the middle of May it looked as if the birds had moved on without hatching a chick.  Working together, BLM and the local climbers checked the nest, confirmed that the eagles had left, and then decided to lift the closure.  All of a sudden, Trout Creek was open for business!   

This past weekend, a few days after the closure was lifted, I snuck in a day of fantastic climbing on the splitter cracks overlooking the Deschutes River in the Oregon High Desert.  I felt lucky just to have one day of climbing at this beautiful setting, but it's literally in my backyard - what a treat!  All the guys that put in time to steward Trout Creek deserve a huge thanks, because so many people find a little piece of what they're searching for in that moment of uncertainty above their last piece of pro.  We all deserve that chance, and places like Trout Creek and the people who take care of it make it all possible.  Pass it on!

A Trout Creek local

No comments:

Post a Comment