New U.S. park policy would put limits on setting new fixed climbing anchors.

New regulations proposed by the National Park Service seek to limit the placement of fixed climbing anchors and the replacement of aging anchors in wilderness, including iconic climbing areas such as Yosemite, Zion, Black Canyon, and Rocky Mountain national park.

The new policy would require climbers to obtain prior authorization before setting new fixed anchors and replacing older anchors in federal wilderness areas. Climbing would also be restricted or prohibited if unacceptable impacts to wilderness resources or character occur.

“Climbing is in many cases a legitimate and appropriate use of wilderness,” the policy draft reads. “However, any climbing use or related activity must be restricted or prohibited when its occurrence, continuation or expansion would result in unacceptable impacts or impairment to wilderness resources or character, or interfere significantly with the experience of other park visitors.”

The park service is gathering public comment on the proposed policy, Director’s Order 41: Wilderness Stewardship, until March 3, 2010.

The climbers advocacy group, Access Fund, is conducting an online survey of climbers to prepare its comments on the proposed rules.

Photo by Maria Ly

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