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Mt. Lemmon Falcon Closures


Original Post
Stan McKnight · · AZ · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 261

Wondering which areas are closed for falcon nesting on mt. Lemmon.

Thanks for the help!

CASA Climbing Assn. of So. AZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 202

Hey Stan. Yes, you're right, definitive information for these areas is hard to come by. If you want to climb in places where raptors may be nesting, make sure that if you see breeding raptor activity, definitely climb somewhere else. We have had reports of breeding raptors on the east face of the Ravens, so that area would be out of bounds if you want to stay on the right side of the law and of the birds.

The info on our website is meant to empower climbers to identify breeding raptor activity and help the community make smart choices about where to climb.

Other great warm weather areas are any of the Upper Highway crags that get shade. Check out Squeezing the Lemmon. Reef of Rock, South Park... Note that Andy Bennett has identified an active falcon nest at the Reef:

Andy: An active peregrine nest with chicks is located across the gully from the North face of Neptune (Red Tide, Naranja, etc.). I saw at least one fuzzy gray youngin inside. Depsite the lack of ESA protections or closures, it would be a kind gesture on the part of us climbers to give them a few weeks of quiet by not climbing in this zone so they can successfully fledge their young. Climbers have been shown to upset falcons to the point where they don't feed their young enough for them to survive, and these parents definitely weren't happy when we were in the 200' range. 
Hope this helps, and safe climbing!
Stan McKnight · · AZ · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 261
CASA Climbing Assn. of So. AZ wrote: Hey Stan. Yes, you're right, definitive information for these areas is hard to come by. If you want to climb in places where raptors may be nesting, make sure that if you see breeding raptor activity, definitely climb somewhere else. We have had reports of breeding raptors on the east face of the Ravens, so that area would be out of bounds if you want to stay on the right side of the law and of the birds.

The info on our website is meant to empower climbers to identify breeding raptor activity and help the community make smart choices about where to climb.

Other great warm weather areas are any of the Upper Highway crags that get shade. Check out Squeezing the Lemmon. Reef of Rock, South Park... Note that Andy Bennett has identified an active falcon nest at the Reef:

Hope this helps, and safe climbing!

Thanks for the advice! We will stay away from the ravens and anywhere else with signs of nesting. 

Scott M. McNamara · · Tucson, Arizona · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 55

Before CASA, the Coronado closed whole crags---even if when there were no nests.

I proposed that climbers might be willing to identify nest locations---if they did not close the whole crag and opened crags where there were no nests.

At Devil Tower, for example, when birds nest at the top of El Matador, they only close routes near the nest.

The Coronado bird person told me "Scott, if you tell me where there are nests, then I will close one square kilometer around the nest."

Thus, I am concerned that this public discussion could result a new round of closures.

It might be best if these types of discussions were via private e-mail.

Scott Mc
620-1481

P.S.

CASA you do good work and I know your heart is in the right place.  Thank you.

CASA Climbing Assn. of So. AZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 202

Scott M.,

It's a complex and delicate situation, for certain. We're very aware of the history you reference and share your concerns. We're also working with several partners to help improve the situation for everyone involved. At the moment, we're encouraged by good faith shown in conversations and our collaborative efforts and are cautiously optimistic that self regulation by climbers is a good solution for now.

Thank you for everything you have done for this climbing community over the years! We're lucky to have you here. :)

Stan McKnight · · AZ · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 261

Thanks to both of you for your responses, I edited my comments according to your concerns, Scott.

Thanks to you both for your efforts in preserving access to our wonderful AZ climbing areas!

mollycoddled anteater · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 16

I have been wondering about this when I couldn't dig up any information about closures that was more recent than 2013, more recently when the Access Issue notices here on MP changed, and very recently when I've witnessed climbers (visible from the road, even) on crags that would have previously been affected by a closure.

The page on CASA's website does a good job of explaining why it's not a good idea to climb near a falcon nest, but is a bit ambiguous about what may or may not be codified into official policy at the present, the status of ongoing efforts, etc. Google would lead me to believe that I'm probably in the clear if I don't murder the bird or destroy the nest.

It might be helpful to amend the Access Issue notice in a way that addresses the past closures, and perhaps with more information about the migratory bird treaty act or whatever law is actually relevant.

Really appreciate the additional info, and that we have an organization looking out for us (and the birds).

CASA Climbing Assn. of So. AZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 202
mollycoddled anteater wrote: I have been wondering about this when I couldn't dig up any information about closures that was more recent than 2013, more recently when the Access Issue notices here on MP changed, and very recently when I've witnessed climbers (visible from the road, even) on crags that would have previously been affected by a closure.

The page on CASA's website does a good job of explaining why it's not a good idea to climb near a falcon nest, but is a bit ambiguous about what may or may not be codified into official policy at the present, the status of ongoing efforts, etc. Google would lead me to believe that I'm probably in the clear if I don't murder the bird or destroy the nest.

It might be helpful to amend the Access Issue notice in a way that addresses the past closures, and perhaps with more information about the migratory bird treaty act or whatever law is actually relevant.

Really appreciate the additional info, and that we have an organization looking out for us (and the birds).

Molly, you're correct that it's difficult to fully understand what exactly is allowed or disallowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Just like any law, there is a lot of gray area and ultimately, enforcement agencies, lawyers, and the courts are the ones to make those judgments. We're not lawyers. Ultimately we'd like to help everyone avoid having to find out if their actions will be deemed disallowed by an agency or court! ;) 

As summarized by the Audubon Society, "According to the USFWS: “The MBTA provides that it is unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, possess, sell, purchase, barter, import, export, or transport any migratory bird, or any part, nest, or egg or any such bird, unless authorized under a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior. Some regulatory exceptions apply. Take is defined in regulations as: ‘pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect.’ ” "  (Note: Yes, that's a quote within a quoted within a quote.) https://www.audubon.org/news/the-migratory-bird-treaty-act-explained

Climbing activity might be considered a "take" if it causes a raptor nest to fail to fledge chicks. Biologically, it's very hard to show that an activity directly caused failure. Hawkwatch and other groups suggest that a good test is: if the nest successfully fledged chicks then there was not a "take." So conservative logic leads us to recommend, for now, that we use caution, avoid bothering breeding raptors, and let them get on with the business of rearing chicks.

Thanks for being so thoughtful and asking for more info! There are a lot of smart people, nationwide, working on this topic. We're ultimately following the lead of groups that have already been neck deep in this work for a very long time. We'll do our best to keep everyone posted as we work directly at the local level to protect our privilege to climb in the places we love.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Arizona & New Mexico
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