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National parks grapple with rock climbing.

As rock climbing soars in popularity, the National Park Service is examining ways to reduce its impact on the national parks.

For climbing fans, Yosemite National Park and Joshua Tree National Monument in California, City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho, and several other parks are meccas that provide some of the best climbs in the country. In an effort to protect park resources as the numbers of climbers and climbing routes multiply, NPS announced in June its plan to develop overall climbing regulations for the national parks.

Park officials have expressed concerns about some heavily used climbing areas, including vegetation loss from overuse of trails and areas that lead to climbing routes; damage from permanent metal bolts drilled into the rocks; and the discoloration of rock faces from chalks used by climbers.

A number of parks have already issued their own plans for managing climbing. In February, Joshua Tree released a plan that placed a temporary ban on the drilling of new bolts and the replacement of old ones in its wilderness area. The park has also closed climbs located near petroglyph and pictograph sites. Yosemite and City of Rocks have adopted similar regulations.

David Moore, superintendent at Joshua Tree, said that the park is not against climbing but part of his job is to prevent damage to the resources. "Climbers are actually some of the most conscientious visitors out there. But we don't allow a person to pick a dandelion; how can we allow [bolting]?" he asked.

NPCA believes recreation in national parks must be balanced with the protection of resources. In November it will sponsor a cooperative workshop in the Denver area for climbers and NPS officials on finding this balance.
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Title Annotation:to protect resources
Author:McCarty, Laura P.
Publication:National Parks
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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