The Metacomet trail goes over the top of the cliff. So there are lots of "tourists" (non-climbers) up there. Putting anchors on top of every climb would reduce foot traffic but it would hardly eliminate it and, as you know, it will never happen. Speaking of erosion, the bottom of the cliff suffers from the same overuse (almost all from climbers). The tree roots at the bottom have been getting more exposed over the years. Probably the only fix for that is to strategically place more rocks as the trail crews have been doing.
I suggest a multi-pronged approached actually... first is some sort of re-growth/mitigation program and second is impact reduction. So that could mean laying hay (or something), planting seeds of local species, some trees, closing down portions of the top of the cliff to hikers, and possibly installing anchors were gear anchors are not secure.
I'd bet 75% or more of the traffic at the top is climbers. promoting vegetation at the top would help rain water absorb and not run off nearly as much which in turn would help the base. Rules and bylaws can be changed for the greater good if people really care to I would think. This is an awesome cliff, it would be cool to come back to CT someday in the next 50 years and see this problem solved, new trees, grass and all.
Sounds like a great idea. RMF organizes a clean-up/trail maintenance get together every year. Perhaps some of this reforestation could be incorporated into that. The second crux will be keeping people off the area if you want to move the tree-line closer to the edge of the cliff. Climbers who don't have trad gear and/or don't know how to place it will go back for tree anchors. And in places the rock is pretty fractured for gear anchors even if you have gear. So bolted anchors will be absolutely required. The 5.15 crux is getting the anchors approved by some of the old guard in the RMF and/or the Conservancy. :-)
What I can add to this is that TNC (the nature conservancy) no longer has any legal involvement with Ragged Mountain. However, Halley and myself are friendly with the head of stewardship in CT. I am sure TNC would be willing to work with RMF and offer some elbow grease. In fact, we've mentioned it to the guy and he was very receptive.
I've mentioned it to Brien @ RMF... he like the idea but it would need a lot of work and the commitment from the RMF to go along with the whole plan not cherry picking parts of it otherwise IMO it's a waste of time and money.
Lastly is that this is a really obvious issue that has existed for many years now and the RMF has not been able to do anything about it so there must be pretty well formed opposition within the RMF. There are def those like Brien that want to see things changed for the better but it's not a one man show...
How about letting democracy prevail and getting like minded people voted on to the RMF Board? I'm one RMF member who will vote for someone who proposes bolted anchors in his/her platform. Many of the Board members have been on the Board for ten years or more. I don't mean to slight or diminish their volunteer contribution to the organization but perhaps it is time for change. Like it or not climbing has changed. There are more people climbing so more environmental impact.
Yeah...and I know that one should put their money where their mouth is but I am not located in central CT so making the RMF Board meetings would be too difficult for me.
All I have to say is that the erosion on top of this cliff looks like a western United States cliff/desert where it doesnt ever rain, vegetation takes at least twice as long to grow and people TR instead of lead(which is rare).