BLM to Ban Climbing at Castle Rocks

After complaints from tribes

Adam Roy

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A popular crag is Idaho is facing permanent closure after complaints from tribes who consider the area to be sacred. Castle Rocks, a 400-acre area near Oakley in the southeast portion of the state, has been closed intermittantly since 2003, and Bureau of Land Management officials say that they plan to shutter it for good this summer.

Both the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute tribes have expressed concern that artifacts in Castle Rocks could be destroyed if climbing is allowed to continue. Mike Courtney, a BLM field manager in Idaho, said that the agency had determined that any climbing at the area would put cultural resources at risk, at least to a degree.

“We kept running into resource issues with the locations of the trails and the potential climbing routes,” Courtney told the Associated Press. “We inventoried the entire area, and a lot of the areas at risk are the most desirable (climbing) areas.”

In response to the BLM’s announcement, the Access Fund, a non-profit tasked with protecting climbing areas around the U.S., said in a statement that the agency was ignoring a climbing management plan that they and representatives from several other agencies developed in 2003.

“They reversed course really quickly and went from considering the climbing management plan to coming to a decision that banned climbing right away,” said R.D. Pascoe, the Access Fund’s policy director.

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