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Sierra Club Conservation Policies

Fixed Anchors in Wilderness

(1) Preserving and protecting wilderness values for future generations is the primary purpose of wilderness. All other uses are subject to this primary purpose. All management actions should enhance, rather than degrade, wilderness values as defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964.

(2) Climbing, including the use of fixed anchors, is an historic and can be an appropriate use of wilderness, consistent with the purposes of the Wilderness Act. However, fixed anchors that cannot be placed or removed without altering the environment were not specifically addressed during the passage of the Wilderness Act.

These should be regulated as installations in wilderness; their use in wilderness may be authorized under Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act, which provides that installations can be allowed where "necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act." Within designated wilderness areas, or areas otherwise protected for their wilderness values, climbing, including the use of fixed anchors, should be subject to the same standards as all other activities that are consistent with the preservation of the wilderness character of these lands.

(3) Climbing, including the use of fixed anchors, should be addressed in wilderness management plans, subject to public review, and managed as necessary to protect wilderness resources. The full range of management options, including but not limited to resource monitoring, voluntary use limits, restrictions, permitting, area-specific prohibitions, and the establishment of Limits of Acceptable Change criteria for specific areas, should be considered and implemented as necessary to protect wilderness character when regulating climbing and the use of fixed anchors. Where climbing occurs, all relevant management plans, informational signs and wilderness permits should address guidelines for climbing and the use of fixed anchors.

(4) Site-specific wilderness management plans should include certain minimum requirements for climbing. Climbing should not occur where fragile, rare, threatened, or endangered plant or animal species may be impacted, where human presence may interfere with essential wildlife behavioral patterns, where recreational activities may interfere with religious or cultural values, or where it would compromise the scenic resource. Fixed anchors should not be used where there is a removable equipment alternative.

To minimize visual impacts, slings and other removable equipment should be removed whenever and wherever possible. The use of power drills is prohibited in wilderness areas. Any alteration of rock should be prohibited, except as minimally necessary for the placement of fixed anchors. Impacts from climbing on vegetation should be subject to Wilderness regulations and the removal of vegetation should be prohibited

Adopted by the Board of Directors, May 9-10, 1998; amended November 17, 2000.


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