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Closure to Cimarron Canyon, Northern New Mexico

Original Post
Roger Rumsey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 0

A group of friends drove to Cimarron Canyon this past weekend only to find closure signs posted prohibiting rock climbing. Appears that the closure is by the State Dept of Fish & Wildlife (Wildlife Mgt. Area). Does anyone have any information regarding the closure such as how long it has been closed? Any negotiations to get it re-opened? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

John Hunyadi · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 0

what?!? i was only there once on the way through but that is extremely unfortunate as this was a fun little area. I wonder if there was any public hearings or notifications that this was going to happen? If there is any way we can work together to revoke/repeal the closure, I would definitely be on board. I don't know the circumstances but too many areas are being shut down.

Mike Howard · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 3,635

Was that at the pallisades, Maverick's or everywhere? I know they have "discouraged climbing" at the pallisades for years but nothing formal.


Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 12,044

Hey Mike,
According to our friends that were up there it was Maverick that was obviously closed (posted with a sign that reads, "Rock Climbing Prohibited") so they went to Probe 1? (I've never been there so I don't know the names) and didn't see any signs. But our one friend says afterwards they did some research and found out the entire area is officially closed by the State Dept of Fish and Wildlife.

Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 12,044

An update on this. Doesn't sound encouraging....

> Sent: Monday, August 27, 2007 1:56 PM

> My name is Lief Ahlm, I am the Northeast Area Operations Chief for NM Game and Fish. The Northeast Area includes Cimarron Canyon. I'll try to shed some light on the reoccurring issue of rock climbing in Cimarron Canyon.

> That portion of Cimarron Canyon that is located in Cimarron Canyon State Park is owned by the New Mexico State Game Commission and is part of the Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area. It is not public land in the same context as Forest Service or BLM land. It is land held in trust by the State Game Commission for the purpose of wildlife conservation.

> This area was purchased by the State Game Commission in the early 1950s using Federal Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act (otherwise known as Pitman- Robertson Act) dollars. These dollars come to the State from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and are generated specifically from excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition. As is often the case with federal funding, specific deed restrictions were applied to the purchase of the property that if violated, could lead to the reversion of the property to the ownership of the federal government. These restrictions were intentionally put in place to prevent the State from diverging from the intent of the purchase of the land.

> The deed restrictions for the Colin Neblett state that the property must be used only for the conservation of wildlife. Through oversight by the US Fish and Wildlife Service the activities that are allowed on the Colin Neblett include managed, limited hunting and angling opportunity. The Department is currently in the process of considering the expansion of uses of the wildlife area to include other forms of wildlife associated recreation such as wildlife viewing and photography. To facilitate these activities we are considering allowing conveyances such as hiking, horseback riding and possibly limited mountain biking. Since this property is owned by the State and since the property was purchased and is maintained with federal dollars, all activities must comply with NEPA as well as the State Historic Preservation Act. We are currently in the process of evaluating these additional activities.

> The State Park facilities are administered though a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between NM State Parks Division and NM Dept. of Game and Fish. State Parks jurisdiction of the area is limited to the existing campsites and the use of the area immediately adjacent to Cimarron River. All activates on the Park must comply with the restrictions of the JPA.

> Regarding rock climbing; this activity has never been legal on the Colin Neblett WMA. Through admitted lack of oversight by our Department, NM State Parks managers at the park had previously allowed and, even advertised, rock climbing in the park. This was not within the scope of our JPA with NM State Parks and, after being corrected, they no longer promote or allow the activity.

> We do not anticipate ever allowing this activity as it is not what the Department views as a valid means to observe wildlife. In fact, rock climbing might be considered to be detrimental to wildlife in that it could disrupt the nesting and resting of raptors and other birds that use the cliffs. Of course there are also the obvious liability issues related to allowing this activity.

> For further reference you can also look at State Game Commission Rule G. NMAC which sets the legal guidelines for the Department to enforce this restriction. There are signs in the canyon warning people that climbing is not allowed. Those found in violation of this restriction may be cited.

> I understand that this may be a great place to rock climb but, as per our management and interpretation of the deed restrictions, we do not believe it is a compatible activity with the intended purpose of the wildlife management area.

> I hope this helps, please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions and to pass on my contact information to anyone else who does.

> Lief Ahlm
> Chief, Northeast Area Operations
> New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish
> PO Box 1145
> Raton, NM 87740

> Office 505-445-2311
> FAX 505-445-5651

Jason Halladay · · Los Alamos, NM · Joined Oct 2005 · Points: 12,044

Very troublesome news. Maybe I mis-read this
but it sounds like hunting and angling are allowed but rock climbing is
not? He then states that "rock climbing might be considered to be
detrimental to wildlife...". This begs the rhetorical question: Hunting
wildlife with a bow/arrow or rifle is not considered detrimental to wildlife
yet climbing on the rocks is?
Wow. I guess the department knows how its bread is buttered and obviously
the funds come from "sportsmen" and not rock climbers.
Pretty lame.

Logan Eckhardt · · Albuquerque · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 35

Thanks for this information, Jason. Troubling indeed. Climbers should follow this issue because if the State Game and Fish Dept. publish their Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with NEPA, then they are required to have a formal comment period as part of the review process.

Obviously the State Game and Fish feel that "managed" hunting and angling activities are in the "best interest" of wildlife preservation (read: limited hunting ensures no overpopulation, etc.). But this type of letter and the issues they raise regarding climbing being detrimental to wildlife is disturbing, and should be addressed immediately so as to not set a future precedent. Their letter also makes it obvious that these people do not have experience working with climber access groups, which makes me think someone needs to coordinate CRAG NM with these people so that access issues can be worked on starting now.

Thanks for posting the letter!

tim naylor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2004 · Points: 370

My ?'s are, what is limited hunting (same as rest of state) and angling opportunities? It looks like anyone with a license can fish there. I'm sure the fishing line and hooks everywhere are good for wildlife! Then the pay campsites, fire pits and toilets are sure to be good for viewing wildlife, and help them too. How does the State own and regulate an area purchased and maintained with federal dollars? Would it be so bad if it went to the Feds? Horses and mtn bikes? Where do they fit in with Colin-Nesbitt? Oh right horses for the lazy hunters, not all are lazy, and I love to ride bikes but how do these modes of transportation help wildlife? Thanks for letting me vent. Access Fund or NM Crag needs to know about this, not a lot of routes but some potential. · · Mesa AZ · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 1,135

Most of the time I bypass these posts... however for some reason this one bugged me - you mean to tell me : You allow hunting and fishing but rock climbing is forbid...
As an avid Conservationist and climber - I am dumbfounded at the actions of various states Fish And Game personalle...

Im curious, as conservationists, what evil are you saving the general wildlife population from when you ban climbing but allow hunting and fishing? Oh wait - you cant tax Climbing... therefore its not a manageable evil... therefore its restricted. I could go on but it will only further the conflict that we have had with mindless idiots running the state that havent seen a bit of wild space - unless your speaking of the free air between Palin's ears..

One day I hope some high level of Fish and Game actually visits the FISH AND GAME they supposedly represent.

Paul Davidson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 605

Phone calls, etc... are noticed by public officials.
Letters however carry substantially more weight because the time commitment indicates a level of concern beyond a knee jerk.

NMG&F is overseen by a commission.
If you really feel strongly about this issue, write the commission board members:…

Send a letter to:
New Mexico Game and Fish
Attn: Public Comments
PO Box 25112
Santa Fe, NM 87505

or email

Be sure to cc Mr. Ahlm.

Oddly enough, reasoned & polite arguments score points

climber pat · · Las Cruces, NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

Seems like the thing to do is let the land revert back to the federal government and the deed restrictions would expire.

I am always astonished that land manager consider climbing to have more impact than hunting, horse back riding, building trails for hiking and build camp-grounds.

In my mind rock climbing is the same a hiking on vertical terrain and the bolts, if any, are the trail.

Has someone local contacted the Access Fund, I no longer live in NM.

Steve Hattenbach · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 100

For what its worth, I informed NM Crag (Bryan Pletta) of the closure.

PRRose · · Boulder · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 0

The issue appears to be that Pittman-Robertson Act funds may only be used for wildlife conservation and "wildlife associated recreation," which is defined for purposes of the Act as "projects intended to meet the demand for outdoor activities associated with wildlife including, but not limited to, hunting and fishing, wildlife observation and photography, such projects as construction or restoration of wildlife viewing areas, observation towers, blinds, platforms, land and water trails, water access, field trialing, trail heads, and access for such projects."

I don't see how hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking are any more "associated with wildlife" than climbing. Each is a way of accessing various parts of the Management Area. Nothing about the activities compels anyone to participate in wildlife viewing--each can be enjoyed independently of any interaction with wildlife, and in fact each is frequently enjoyed for its own sake.

In fact, it could be argued that climbing is the only way to access vertical wildlife viewing areas or habitats. Thus, unlike horses and bikes--which can only access a subset of the areas or habitats accessible on foot--climbing increases the opportunity to view or otherwise interact with wildlife.

JP Thomason · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0
This post violated Rule #1. It has been removed by Mountain Project.
Collin Page · · Spring, TX · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

As a staff member at Philmont Scout Ranch, this crag is minutes away from my workplace and home. It would be extremely easy for us to go over after a work day and have some crag time. I was extremely disappointed when I showed up and found it was illegal to climb here. Even more so when I went up and saw all the bolts. As an avid follower and teacher of Leave No Trace, I don't believe climbing affects wildlife conservation in any way, in fact I believe that it could actually enhance your wilderness experience. That being said, I have sent an email to the access fund and will be writing a letter to NM Game & Fish.

Rone Taylor · · Haslett, TX · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 11

I realize this thread was started 10 years ago... does anyone have an up to date status on the legality surrounding climbing here?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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