The Future of Bolting




Right now, two opposing activities are happening in our federal government related to fixed anchors. The NPS and USFS, agencies of the Dept. of Interior and Dept. of Agriculture, respectively, are proposing restrictive guidance related to fixed anchors. THIS IS BAD FOR BOLTED CANYONS. Meanwhile, both the House and Senate have introduced public lands packages that outline the legitimacy of fixed anchors, including bolts, as tools that, when used judiciously, are not in conflict with, but rather support wilderness. THESE BILLS NEED OUR SUPPORT.



TL;DR: ALL BOLTS will become prohibited in wilderness and severely limited in non-wilderness. These proposed changes need our comments.

The National Park Service (NPS) and US Forest Service (USFS) are both federal agencies charged with managing National Parks and National Forest Land. Both have issued new draft national guidance that will LIMIT canyon exploration and REDUCE ACCESS to established canyon routes. More info below.



TL;DR: Congress has bipartisan support for outdoor recreation and is moving to enact legislation that will protect recreation access, including bolts. They need our support.

Both the US Senate and US House of Representatives have introduced bi-partisan bills that support improvement to outdoor recreation access. These bills, specifically, protect existing fixed anchors in both wilderness and non-wilderness, and they allow for reasonable pathways for land managers to approve new fixed anchors. More Information below.

USFS Proposed Climbing Guidance

NPS Proposed Climbing Guidance

Why this guidance threatens our canyons

An excerpt from

"Another implication is legal. Things defined as “installations” in a wilderness context are subject to lawsuits. Any user—or any anti-climbing wilderness organization—can point at an installation that has not undergone an MRA and sue for its removal. This same legal mechanism was used by Wilderness Watch in 2010 to condemn an 80-year-old fire tower in the Glacier Peak Wilderness in Washington. Despite the fact that the tower both pre-dated the Wilderness Act and had been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1988, the tower was ultimately condemned by a federal judge and slated for removal—only to be saved by an act of federal legislation (introduced by one of Washington’s senators and signed into law by President Obama) that superseded the judge’s ruling. If the installation definition were to be applied to bolts, slings, pitons, rap anchors, and so on, groups like Wilderness Watch could use the same mechanism to gradually strip necessary anchors from Yosemite, the Black Canyon, the Tetons, Acadia, and thousands of other federally administered wilderness crags around the country. "

About AORA and the EXPLORE Act

The quick rundown:

When lawmakers in one chamber share similar views to a bill introduced in the other chamber, often they will introduce a companion bill. Bills that pass through one chamber have a much greater likelihood of being voted into law if the other chamber passes a bill with very similar language. AORA was a public lands package (a super-bill that serves as a package of bills) introduced in the Senate last session, and fell just shy of being voted into law. We hope that with the introduction of the EXPLORE Act as a companion public lands package in the House, many of the the common bills in both packages, or even an entire package, will be voted into law in 2024.

Both AORA and the EXPLORE Act enjoy bipartisan sponsorship. This means two big things:

About the PARC Act

The PARC Act is a bill that is included in both public lands packages.

The PARC Act will require a level of consistency among land managers regarding the management of fixed anchors. It will provide unambiguous direction from congress that the land management community must acknowledge climbing as a legitimate use of our public lands including Wilderness areas. It also supports the idea that judiciously placed fixed anchors support the objectives of the Wilderness act by both preserving the wilderness character and allowing for exploration and adventure. It will:

*Modified from the Access Fund's public testimony.