SONOMA COAST CLIMBING ACCESS ALERT!!!!!

Issues related to climbing access and safety.

Postby Dodrill » Sat Jun 23, 2007 11:35 pm

Letters from comment period. This is from the final EIR.

Basically, several organizations including Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, an individual representative of the Sierra Club, and Sonoma Coast Citizens Alliance are recommending closure of climbing at Sunset Rocks, analysis of this climbing impacts, then implementing a limited permit program for all climbers using Sunset Rocks. They seem to be in agreement that the southern rock, not at the Sunset Rocks proper, should have all climbing banned. I happen to agree with that.
-JD

Direct link to PDF Document which is lower on the same page as above post:
http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/21299/files/sonomacoaststatebeachfinaleir3-27-07.pdf

12-7 The commenters want climbing to cease until a baseline is established for assessing impacts. Then they want climbers to be required to have climbing permits. The comment is noted.

17-1 The commenter suggests requiring climbing permits and withholding
permits for climbing Sunset Rock...

23-6 The commenters recommend enacting and enforcing a policy for climbing use by those who are making money from climbing activities and do not recommend issuing permits allowing climbers on the southern Sunset Rock. The comment is noted.
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Postby Moji » Sun Jun 24, 2007 3:46 am

I think we should contact the Sierra Club and complain about their uninformed and heavily partisan representation
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Postby Dodrill » Sun Jun 24, 2007 9:36 am

I don't think we should do anything yet. This is going to require some planning, and some delicate and respectful discussion.

BTW, the Sierra Club's name is not on any of the documents.
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Postby Dodrill » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:23 am

For Discussion:

I for one am totally fine if they want to limit or end use of the site for commercial climbing groups. When you have a group of 30 kids out there it is significantly disruptive to the experience of other park visitors and climbers, and LOOKS like climbers are having the biggest impact out there. For whatever reasons you can think of, and reflecting on several incidents of friction, in the last month and few years, use of the site in this capacity has created some bad blood with other user groups.

I'm also okay if climbing and rappelling off the South Rock is banned. -Just my personal position. The rock is crap for climbing, and there are delicate plant communities on the face. Plus, this rock seems like a rational sacrafice to those concerned. I can only think of one party who uses this rock at all, and that is only with guided groups. Lets cease that activity. The ONLY thing I'm going to work toward is keeping the main climbing rocks free access to the general public for recreational rock climbing.

Three other points:
1. :!: There are no documented impacts caused by climbers. There are concerns about trails, but the visitation to the site by non-climbers has dramatically increased since release of the Mammoth Theory.
2. :!: The Mammoth Rub Theory is just that. A theory (though perhaps likely). Increased publicity about it will increase impact to the site by non-climbers.
3. The primary damage to the "rubs" that I am aware of have been caused by... the Park Paleontologist! Breck admitted chiseling off pieces of the rubs for his research purposes. Climbers, as you know, want to preserve each little edge and handhold of the rock and the smooth rubbed surfaces offer nothing of interest to climbers. The rock is bullet hard and unaffected by the skin of our fingers. I'm happy to work with land managers to assess the impacts caused by climbers because I'm pretty certain of what they will discover. :) The spider web of trails is caused primarily by non-climbers, and the holds don't break unless you chisel them off with a hammer -Something that climbers are against.
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Postby splitclimber » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:36 am

Wow. Thanks for the links Jerry. I did not know the south rock was climbed. I always thought and heard it was no good, which is sounds like it is.

Can/should the RIM club be involved politically with this issue. Sounds like State Park peeps need some education.

I'd be happy to be an independent ecologist monitor out there if some sort of data is needed regarding vegetation impacts. I doubt Sonoma Coast Parks is doing this.

I know a biologist who works for State Parks. I'll have to see what his take is on this issue.
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Postby Dodrill » Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:03 am

Thanks for jumping in Darren. Yeah, data should be gathered. Nothing has been done and we need to talk, get a plan. Some folks have seen increased use of the site and the trails have increased. People see climbers out there so assume its from them. But nobody has sat out there and counted the number of people who visit the site, how many of them are just hikers vs. climbers. Most climbers don't venture beyond the main rocks. I think a complete survey of user groups and impacts will need to be performed at some point. Check out the trail web around the site on Google.

Climbing is a growing activity on the coast and the state park here knows virtually nothing about how it works. This is the most used and visible site. At some point they will probably have to develop a protocol for how to deal with climbing. At most of the sites it isn't an issue.

Two Februarys ago there was a meeting in Jenner with climbers, Sonoma Coast Citizens Advisory Board, and park officials. They had concerns about climbing impacts, but it seemed like everything would be cool. After that, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (Michele Luna) wanted to set up a climber based monitoring program, which sounded good but had problems to work out. I tried to rally troops to get on board, but not many people seemed to care. So now this.

Hate to say "I told you so", but I did. Perhaps nobody cares if climbing is limited/banned here? I'm not going to waste my energy. But I think we can come to a good resolution by working with and not against the park. Climbing is a valid form of recreation as long as we aren't damaging resources.

I happen to know Breck Parkman, the paleontologist on the project. He has been really cool about climbing on the site. It is not him that is pushing for regulation.
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Postby learnin2climb » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:40 pm

This is a bummer. I was out there climbing once when someone brought a group of friends to see the rubbings and loudly stated that climbers are ruining it. She then pointed to a chipped section, which sounds like it was from the paleontologist.

I love the logic for banning climbing. "Let’s ban climbing so that we can evaluate the impact of climbers." If no one is climbing at sunset boulders how can someone evaluate their impact???

Is there a way to prove or suggest that the rubbings were not from Mammoths'? What data do they have to support this mammoth hypothesis? Many animals rub on objects for many reasons. I once watched a cow rub its ass on a cement water trough for like 20 min (it was a boring day). If 1000 cows followed suit, I supposed they would create a sooth spot like at sunset boulders.

This is defiantly a sensitive subject for many user groups. Could we invite the paleontologist to give a talk at a club meeting to hear about his findings? This would provide a great opportunity to become informed so that we could form an educated defense to fight a proposed ban.
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Postby Dodrill » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:05 pm

The theory is pretty sound but there is no proof. The majority of lower rubbings have been used by horses, cows, and sheep for over a hundred years, perhaps almost two hundred years. I can't remember. But the higher smooth spots are too high to be caused by domestic animals. These are the source of the theory. There is a link to the full article on the SP website.

Last year we had a bunch of meetings about this and almost had Breck come give his lecture. I even did a joint presentation with him on behalf of the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.

There has been some science done to rule out wind and water as sources of the polish. The surface scratching is an almost identical match to a rubbing post in the Johannesburg Zoo that is used by elephants. But that's the extent of evidence. Breck has tried finding hair particles and done carbon extraction on pulverized stone, trying to extract traces of oil that would have been left behind and survived, in hopes of obtaining actual mammoth DNA. These were Colombian Mammoth, not Wooley. They had skin, like an elephant, but bigger. The theory and history is actually pretty interesting.

I feel a letter writing campaign coming on.
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Postby Dodrill » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:20 pm

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Postby Dodrill » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:44 pm

Section 12-5 of the Final EIR, comments from Sonoma Coast Advisory Committee:

"Sunset Rocks: We recommend that resources in the coastal bluff area known as Sunset Rocks have a higher level of protection, possibly through review and enforcement of the existing permitting program. Climbers and rock collectors have been heavily impacting this area, which has been receiving much publicity. We recommend that all climbing groups be required to obtain permits for use of the northernmost Sunset Rock. We do not recommend issuance of permits to climb the southern Sunset Rock as it it fragile and needs protection. The statement oat the bottom of page 2-111 that "the rocks below Peaked Hill (known by local climbers as Sunset Rock or Sunset Boulders are a significant paleontological site with prehistoric animal rubbings" is incorrect; research is ongoing but not proven."
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Postby Moji » Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:32 pm

lets offer to do a survey over a month or so to see just how much impact by climbers there is??? I think we have a hate situation.
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Sunset Rocks Access Issues

Postby mr summit » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:17 pm

I will post on winecountryrocks.com and on supertopo.com this week warning climbers of the current access issues at Sunset Rocks. If anyone thinks I should for some reason stay quiet as far as a warning goes maybe until we know more than please say so and why. I think large groups of climbers reduce or even cancel some (if not all) trips to the Sunset Rocks in the next few months until more is known about what is going on. For all we now it isn't as bad as we think but we should still be prepared for the worst. It is my opinion (and I feel our strongest arguement) that the theorized rubbings do not get damaged by climbers - if they did they would already be damaged. Most visible damage that has been done to the Sunset Rocks is from natural exfoliation, graffitti vandals and rock hounds with hammers - all of whom are deterred by a strong climber presence. "rock climbing is not a crime"
This is a bummer in the summer.

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sunset access

Postby mr summit » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:40 pm

i agree with moji - lets do a survery. complete with questionaires - i volunteer, anybody else..? how about this weekend or next??

most people I've seen down there viewing the theorized rubbings stay for about 15min then hike down the beach or back to the car and a lot have attitudes and probably will rarely if ever come back again. it seems like they don't give a crap about the rocks or the people who love them the most - the climbers who stay there all day and also view and wonder about the theorized rubbings and all the other history of the rock, the land, the sea and the sky.

ive got an Idea :idea: how about all rocks are closed down to scientists unless it's for something that will actually help people. What a waste of time. Honsetly who cares if a large beast scratched themselves on a rock 100,000 years ago - isn't there a lot more to worry about in the world right now and like always. Frikn Duh.
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Postby Dodrill » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:41 pm

Hey Chris. Thanks for joining the dialog. I just talked to Richie on the phone about this too.

I've sent some e-mails out and want to get a dialog going before sounding the big bells on ST, RC.com, etc. But I think shortly we should start a campaign of letter writing to let people express their view of what they would like to see happen in their park. We missed the official public comment period, but a flood of letters could still have a big influence. I talked to a local newspaper editor about this today, he's a friend. He has a great investigative writer who is going to be in touch with me and look deeply into the issues. There is much more than just rock climbing that is going to be affected by the new General Plan. The folks up on Coleman Valley Road and Willow Creek are ALL riled up about it. Let's lie low for a few days and see what happens. We DO need to start getting as many climbers as possible to plug in to this dialog, warm up their pens, and get ready to write letters, but not until we have the facts straight.

FYI- Stephenson, the really nice guy who was superintendant at SCSB, joined us for dinner at Sizzling Tandoor before the meeting in Jenner last year is no longer with this park. There's a new woman in his place who I think was in the gallery the other day and Arienne met.
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Postby Dodrill » Tue Jun 26, 2007 7:44 pm

LOL. Just read your 2nd post. :lol: Agreed! Yeah, I'll do the survey too. We need a full on assesssment of the users/impacts. We should do this in conjunction with the other side so it seems all legit.
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Postby cvd » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:26 pm

Dodrill wrote:We recommend that all climbing groups be required to obtain permits for use of the northernmost Sunset Rock.


What do they mean by "climbing groups"? Does this mean commercial groups, or does it include any time a few friends get together to go boulder? If I go bouldering by myself I'm OK, then?

12-7 is actually even more alarming ... "... Use of boulders for climbing in Pomo Canyon Creek and in other fragile coastal areas should be evaluated and monitored ... climbing use should cease until a baseline can be established to assess impacts. Use should then be guided by the terms of a climbing permit..." (This is from the actual text of the letter from the Sonoma Coast State Beach Advisory Committee, not the clarification of points that follows.) They seem to want to expand restrictions to the whole Sonoma Coast, not just Goat Rock!

What is the "publicity" they refer to on the impact of "climbers and rock collectors"? The very fact that that use the phrase "climbers and rock collectors" reveals their ignorance - they imply that climbers take something away from the natural environment. If they are going to make this assertion, they better have some data to back it up! (This is where the whole survey idea comes in.)

This group in particular (Stewards of the Coast?) seems to be playing to a negative stereotype of climbers as a bunch of juvenile delinquents engaging in some kind of crazy fringe activity instead of a legitimate use group. Something needs to be done to educate the public that climbers, as a whole, care about the environment (and are probably more deeply connected to it that most, as they spend more time in natural settings), and that they are a diverse group including many respected professionals who contribute to the community and have as much right to enjoy the natural resources of this county as anyone.

So this is an EIR... what is the next step as far as implementation of any of these "recommendations"? At any rate, I"ll be glad to write a letter expressing the sentiments above ... where should this be targeted to get the most visibility?

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Postby splitclimber » Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:59 pm

12-7 is actually even more alarming ... "... Use of boulders for climbing in Pomo Canyon Creek and in other fragile coastal areas should be evaluated and monitored ... climbing use should cease until a baseline can be established to assess impacts.


Weird logic here, eh. Why don't they "cease" walking, hiking, biking, driving, diving, swimming, surfing and any other activities to "evaluate" impacts.

I am a little worried about knee jerk reactions and how it might affect other state parks and climbing.
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Postby Dodrill » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:27 am

Good points C.

I just learned from Breck that the same folks who want to stop climbing also want to stop him from leading interpretive programs out there.

I am a little worried about knee jerk reactions and how it might affect other state parks and climbing.


Me too.
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Postby cvd » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:50 am

Dodrill wrote:Good points C.

I just learned from Breck that the same folks who want to stop climbing also want to stop him from leading interpretive programs out there.

I am a little worried about knee jerk reactions and how it might affect other state parks and climbing.


Me too.


Are you serious?! If this is "Stewards", their website lists multiple outings being led by them, many with no mention of upper limit of participants, including one leading an interpretive program on the mammoth rubbings!

"Geology Hike with Docent Jonathon Green
Saturday, August 11, 2007, 10 am to 1 pm
10 am, Shell Beach, Sonoma Coast State Park
(EASY) Take a walk back in time and learn about the fascinating geology and history of Sonoma Coast as well as State Park Archeologist Breck Parkman’s theory about the Mammoth Rubbing Rocks. Bring water and a snack."



http://www.stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org/calendarofevents.htm
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Postby cvd » Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:17 pm

Hmm, just read a little more ... the "Stewards" letter is separate from the "Sonoma Coast Advisory Committee Letter", and while it admits it they agree on most points, it's statements regarding climbing are actually much milder (23-6)

"During the past few years, Stewards of the Coast has been a strong supporter of the work of state park archeologist, Breck Parkman. We have funded carbon-dating projects and have also begun a new interpretive program aimed at educating the public about these natural resources as well as protecting them from vandals. Stewards has been working with the climbing community and has their support in regards to the need for a higher level of security for this area.
Stewards does recommend that State Parks enact and enforce a consistent policy in regards to use by those who are benefiting monetarily from climbing activities. We do not recommend issuance of permits to climb the southern Sunset Rock as it is fragile and needs protection."

This is a much more moderate and reasonable stance. So there must be some other faction within the "Sonoma Coast State Beach Advisory Committee" that is having an issue ...
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