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Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Over Zealous Ranger Alert!
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Jan 7, 2013
I just got back from a great three day trip to WMWR. BEWARE the over zealous park ranger. I arrived at about 10 pm to Doris Campground where my buddy already had a site. As I approached the site I noticed a police looking SUV parked very nearby with his lights out. As I am setting up camp he flips his lights on and drives to a neighboring site. He sees several climbers drinking beer and makes them pour out the beer pursuant to Refuge rules. THEN he comes to our site tells my friend he saw him pour wine from his vehicle into a steel container and proceeds to search my friend's vehicle without consent. He pours out two screw top wine bottles, and takes a corked bottle with him, telling my friend he's cutting him a break by not citing him with a ticket. The next night we arrive late after climbing. Ten minutes after we get to our site this guy drives up about 100 feet away at a stop sign with his headlights blinding us. He stays there with lights on us for five minutes until a car comes up behind him. FYI John Ryan
From Poncha Springs, CO
Joined Aug 31, 2012
150 points
Jul 12, 2013
Real simple. Alcohol is against the law in the WMWR.
You can stay at the state park just outside the Refuge.
I think the rules are different there. It's on the east side of Lake Lawtonka. It's the big lake you can see from Mt. Scott.

It used to cost $5 a night. Plus there are fewer racoons to tear up
your stuff.

Edit for historical clarity. Those tickets for alcohol were $50 (1985)
per container. If you wanted to contest the fine you could go to the Federal court in Denver to argue your case.

I paid.
Keith Reed
Joined Apr 3, 2010
10 points
Jul 12, 2013
The rules are a real drag there, especially in the middle of summer. Just cool it on the booze at the campsite and drink when you go out for dinner. Or, have a better lookout watching for the Man. Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Joined Jan 1, 2001
1,230 points
Jul 13, 2013
As Keith mentioned the Rules on the Refuge are very simple. Please do not bring alchohol into the refuge. It does nothing but harm the already delicate relations between climbers and the refuge staff. If you wish to drink you can go to several local restaurants or camp outside the refuge. The following regulations are strictly enforced.


• Disturbing, collecting, or destroying any plant or animal on the Refuge is prohibited.
• The Public Use areas of the Refuge are open to visitors during daylight hours.
• General camping and campfires are permitted only at Camp Doris. A fee is required.
• Backcountry camping requires a permit and is allowed only in certain designated areas.
• Swimming is not allowed in any Refuge waters.
• Off-road bicycles are restricted to the Mt. Scott trail.
• Alcoholic beverages, including 3.2 beer, are prohibited on the Refuge.
• All pets must be kept on a leash at all times while on the Refuge


• Technical rock climbing is allowed throughout the Public Use portion of the Refuge during daylight hours, with the following exceptions:

• Sport rappelling is prohibited in the area popularly known as the "Narrows", which is defined as the area along West Cache Creek downstream of Boulder Cabin.

• Placement, removal, or replacement of fixed anchors, including bolts, pitons, rivets, coldshuts, and chains, is prohibited without prior approval of Refuge Management through the Advisory Bolting Committee (ABC) of the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition. Any climber desiring to add, remove, or replace any fixed anchor must submit a "Fixed Anchor Application" for review by Refuge Management and the ABC. Applications are reviewed quarterly, and the reviews are based on aesthetic and natural resource criteria. Applications are available at Refuge Headquarters.

• Commercial or instructional operators who charge for their services while on Refuge lands are required to obtain an annual Special Use Permit from the Refuge Manager. Fee required.

Climbing at the refuge is a privilege not a right. Keep in mind that it is not a park. It is a federally managed wildlife refuge who's primary focus is the management of wildlife resources. Everything else is considered a secondary use. Right now we have a good working relation with the Refuge management and would like to keep it that way. Please abide by the above rules so that we may keep it that way.

Thanks for your cooperation.
WMCC Board Member

For more information please see the climbing brochure for the refuge.
Climbing Brochure
and visit
Ryan A. Ray
From Weatherford, TX
Joined Oct 17, 2009
275 points
Jul 13, 2013
What you can do.

Commit yourself to “minimum impact” and “leave no trace” ideals by adhering to the following principles:

• Use established trails to reach climbing areas. Short cuts cause plant damage and erosion.

• Dispose of human waste properly. Whenever possible use restrooms; otherwise bury your waste and carry out toilet paper in a plastic bag. Do not leave human waste within 200 feet of any water source or at the base of a climb.

• Pack out what you bring in. Do not leave tape, cigarette butts, food wraps, leftovers, or other litter. Leave the area cleaner than you found it.

• Pick up after your pets and keep them on a leash.

• Gardening, chipping, gluing, removing vegetation, cutting trees and prying off rocks is prohibited. Bolting is not permitted without prior approval. Be “resource sensitive” when developing new routes. Use good judgment! Tread lightly and be aware of environmental impacts.

• Minimize chalk use and brush off heavily chalked holds.

• Keep your distance from wildlife. Bison and longhorn cattle are dangerous.

• Know and respect environmentally sensitive areas. Fragile plants and soils, wildlife habitat, riparian zones, and wilderness areas require special attention.

• Disturbing, collecting, or destroying any plant or animal on the Refuge is prohibited.

• Please be considerate of other visitors. Loud noise detracts from the wilderness setting and disturbs others. Do not tie up routes you are not using.

• Climb and travel in small numbers. Disperse your activities.

• Support conservation by taking part in organized clean-ups, trail rehabilitation, and other volunteer projects at the Refuge. For more information on what you can do to help, contact the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition or the Access Fund.
Ryan A. Ray
From Weatherford, TX
Joined Oct 17, 2009
275 points
Jul 13, 2013
The rules are not so clear regarding unopened bottles, but does that Ranger have the right to search a vehicle without consent? Furthermore, does he have the right to confiscate unopened containers? That's a due process issue right there. The ticket is more than a fine, its a receipt. Petsfed
From Laramie, WY
Joined Mar 12, 2002
872 points
Jul 13, 2013
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife refuge is a part of the US Fish and Wildlife Services.

In Regards to Alcohol......From the FWS Wichita Mountains Site:

Possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on the refuge, including the camping and picnicking areas.

The rule clearly states Possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on the refuge. Does not say consumption of alcohol prohibited. It says possession of Alcohol is prohibited on the refuge. That means if it is a beverage with alcohol in it..then you can not bring it on the refuge. Opened or unopened.

As far as searches are concerned. The refuge officers are Law enforcement officers of the US Fish an Wildlife Service.

From the FWS website:

1.19 When may Service officers search of a vehicle (not at a border)?

A. General Rule.

(1) If practical, Service officers should obtain a warrant to search a vehicle. The term “vehicle” in this section includes, but is not limited to, automobiles, cars, trucks, trailers, mobile homes, boats, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and airplanes.

(2) The courts have ruled that law enforcement officers may search a “mobile conveyance” or vehicle without a warrant if the officers have established probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime (see subsection 19.A(3) below for information about “mobile”). Once officers establish probable cause, they can search the vehicle immediately at the site where they seized it, or they can search later where it is impounded for safe keeping. The standard for probable cause to search a vehicle is the same as for obtaining a search warrant (see section 1.4D).

(3) A vehicle is mobile if it is moving or can be moved. If the vehicle cannot move or be moved, the “mobile” exception to the search warrant requirement does not apply.

Im fairly certain that section 2 above applies here. Where contraband would be the alcohol, and probable cause would be the fact that he witnessed the pouring of the wine into the metal container.

If you would like to read further, here is where I obtained the above info. Search and Seizure

Im sorry you guys had an unpleasant experience with law enforcement officers at the refuge. Like them or not.. Rules are rules and we must abide by them if we want to continue to have access to The Refuge. Those who choose to abide by the rules rarely have these unfortunate experiences. I would consider yourselves lucky that he cut you a break.

Have a great day and happy climbing.
Ryan A. Ray
From Weatherford, TX
Joined Oct 17, 2009
275 points

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