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Letter Writing Campaign to re-open Williamson Rock/ Your Help Needed!
Submitted By: Art Morimitsu on Oct 7, 2008

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From Friends of Williamson Rock

Letter Writing Campaign / Your Help Needed!

Three Years Later ‘Temporary’ Climbing Closure at Williamson Rock Continues

Your Letters to Congress Needed by November 15th.

The Angeles National Forest continues to enforce a “temporary” climbing closure at Williamson Rock near Los Angeles three years after the ban was first implemented. The climbing ban was intended to protect critical habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog (MYLF) while the Forest Service studied options for an alternate access trail. Unfortunately, while climbers have complied with the access prohibition, the USFS has failed to even obtain funding to pay for an E.A. environmental analysis.

Your letters to Congress are needed to increase pressure on the USFS / Angeles National Forest to fund an environmental analysis that may open up climbing access at Williamson Rock while also protecting the MYLF. It’s time to ask your federal representatives to put pressure on the Forest Service to do its job.

Please take a couple minutes to write Senators Feinstein and Boxer, and your US House Representative. Ask them to contact the Angeles National Forest and urge them to begin the environmental analysis for Williamson Rock that was promised there years ago.
An original letter, in your own words, (using the sample below as a guide) is most effective.
However, any letter is better than none, so if need be feel free to use the following sample letter and send a hard copy via US mail.
(email should only be used as a last resort).
To find your US Representative, enter your zip code in the following link:
capwiz.com/outdooralliance/dbq...
[Date]
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, California 94104
John_Watts@Feinstein.senate.gov

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
1700 Montgomery Street, Suite 240
San Francisco, California 94111
Committee@Boxer.senate.gov

The Honorable [_________]
US House of Representatives
[____________________]
[____________________]

RE: Climbing Access to Williamson Rock,
Angeles National Forest

Dear Senators Feinstein and Boxer,
Representative [__________]:
I write today on behalf of the Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) requesting assistance towards funding an environmental analysis that may lead to public access and wildlife protections at Williamson Rock. The Friends of Williamson Rock (www.williamsonrock.org), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to preserving climbing access and activity, as well as protecting the natural environment of the Williamson Rock area. The FoWR is also an affiliate of the Access Fund (www.accessfund.org), a national, non-profit climbers’ organization dedicated to preserving the natural resources used by climbers, and climbers’ access to those resources.

The Williamson Rock area is a well-known recreation site on public land used predominately for rock climbing since the 1960’s and is widely regarded as a unique rock climbing resource for the entire Southern California region. Indeed, Williamson is the premier sport climbing destination in Southern California. For three years climbers have respected a “temporary” closure at Williamson Rock while the Angeles National Forest prepared an alternate trail study that would protect sensitive frog species while also providing public access to this popular area. Climbers have participated in a scoping process for the environmental analysis investigating alternatives to a total closure of Williamson Rock including re-routing trails, seasonal closures, and climber education. This “temporary” closure has been in effect since December 2005, yet the Angeles National Forest recently indicated that it will again not have the funds to begin the environmental analysis in its 2008 fiscal year. For more
information on this issue, see illiamsonrock.org/blog/

I request your assistance in contacting the Angeles National Forest and urge them to prioritize the appropriation of funds for an environmental analysis process. Rock climbing at Williamson is a valuable low-impact recreational use, a complete closure of the public's land is unacceptable, and a 3-year “temporary” closure is too long (if not illegal).

Local climbers have addressed this issue in a proactive manner, and seek a solution that will be acceptable to all over the long term. Unfortunately, the Angeles National Forest has been unresponsive and has failed to appropriately address the closure of public lands at Williamson.

Please call or write as soon as possible to inform me of actions you have undertaken to help us pursue a balanced, compromise solution to the issue of public access at Williamson Rock. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

[Signature]
[Your name and address here]

Comments on Letter Writing Campaign to re-open Williamson Rock/ Your Help Needed! Add Comment
By Jorge Gonzalez
From: San Gabriel, CA
Oct 8, 2008
I received a direct email from Frank with the letter above. This is my response:

Frank,

I have never met you personally and I certainly appreciate your efforts which appear to be sincere and earnest. However, being that W.R. is so close to the City it creates a lot of fundamental issues regarding how the climbing community deals with environmental issues. Climbers don't have a great track record in a lot of spheres, or it has been erratic at best. Many climbers have a very disrespectful attitude ("I could give a shit") about issues such as trash, habitat destruction, destruction of fauna, hiking on sensitive regions, bringing unleashed dogs into the wild, etc. I've seen it everywhere, at W.R., at J.Tree, Needles, Red Rocks, even the backcountry.

I think if you are really interested in opening W.R. back up you need to form a committee of climbers that will look at the whole host of issues presented, and not solely focus on the particular reasons for the closing and the species that was endangered, but be pro-active and address other issues of concern. For instance, the egress into the area was originally the ridge below the closest parking area. Climbers were causing untold damage to the ridge as it eroded heavily from being heavily trampled on. There was an alternative trail which went around, albeit longer and more time consuming, but most climbers didn't care and came down the easy way anyway. Let's face it, a lot of climbers are young and foolhardy. I'd tell them all the time not to enter the area that way and people would literally tell me to fuck off.

I suggest you take your initiative and put it on rockclimbing.com or supertopo.com or Mountain project.com where the larger climbing community can weigh in and make recommendations. Other organizations such as Access Fund can help you organize your campaign. If you do so you may have more impact and realize your objective. Merely writing to the Senators for California is a small start, but really should be part of a larger campaign.
By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
Oct 9, 2008
Jorge,

One, who is Frank?

Two, I'm a little baffled by your comment because it introduces issues other than the basis for the closure. Your suggestion that a group be formed to review all the related issues you discuss are not issues on the Forest Service's radar.

No one (except you) has ever complained about erosion on the trail. While there is some erosion, that slope is essentially barren soil and rock, with no vegetation, and prone to erosion independent of climber use. Moreover, WL is NOT close to the city, unless you consider the one hour drive from the nearest city in Los Angeles area close. Despite this, that issue is irrelevant to the basis for the closure.

The sole reason for the current closure is to conduct a study of the endangered frogs and whether their habitat encompasses the stream that runs at the base of the Stream Wall. In fact, were there adequate funds to conduct that study, it would have likely been completed a couple of years ago with results either impacting or not impacting WL's future access.

Through your thread, you seem to want to inject your own personal beliefs about climbing in general, rather than resolving the current closure. That is not appropriate nor should it become a matter of public concern. I'm not a youngster myself (44) and, having climbed since age 13, I remember and yearn for the days when climbers had far less impact on their surroundings. Having said, this is not a proper forum for you to enforce your personal views of what climbing should be. The last things we need is for a couple of old has beens like ourselves creating new reasons for the Forest Service to deny access.
By Art Morimitsu
From: Huntington Beach, Ca
Oct 9, 2008
Jorge
Actually the Forest Service had requested climbers cease using the longer trail in order to preserve endangered plant life.
They moved the Williamson/climbing sign to the shorter steeper trail that starts in the smaller higher lot in order to facilate this.
I don't know who Frank is but am guessing he's a member of FoW
click the link below to directly access their website.
Friends of Williamson
By Ryan Kelly
From: work.
Oct 9, 2008
Climbers Heart MYLFs
By jghedge
Oct 26, 2008
"the egress into the area was originally the ridge below the closest parking area. Climbers were causing untold damage to the ridge as it eroded heavily from being heavily trampled on. There was an alternative trail which went around, albeit longer and more time consuming, but most climbers didn't care and came down the easy way anyway. Let's face it, a lot of climbers are young and foolhardy. I'd tell them all the time not to enter the area that way and people would literally tell me to fuck off."

The alternative trail has sections just as prone to erosion as the ridge. The San Gabriels themselves are unusually steep and loose and it is hard to imagine any trail down to WR that would not fall apart in a few years no matter how well constructed. I doubt the FS really cares about trail erosion anyway, the "trail" up to Tahquitz is just as bad, is much more heavily used, and has been in use far longer.

Also it seems a little silly to complain about climber-based erosion when one season of heavy rainstorms, like 2004/05 which took out the road up from Wrightwood, Chantry Flats, the Mt Wilson Toll Road, the Tar Creek bouldering area etc, causes infinitely more "untold damage" than all climber impact combined.

The closure of WR is more an issue of arbitrary and ill-informed management, over the years we've seen raves held at nearby Mt Waterman with disastrous results (4 deaths and epic trash clean-up), complete road closures in some years and not in others due to high fire danger, and now a complete ban on all human contact of an area which includes the Pacific Crest Trail! After 3 years of no movement on the issue it seems like some good old Civil Disobedience might be the only alternative and has a better chance than writing letters of getting us the attention and help we need...