It’s official: President Trump signed the public lands bill yesterday, and critical protections for Wilderness climbing have been written into law for the first time. The President signed the bill at an Oval Office ceremony surrounded by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
Access Fund secured critical Wilderness climbing protections in this landmark legislation, which is now federal law. The Emery County Public Land Management Act, which is a centerpiece of the bill, offered the first significant opportunity for Access Fund to protect Wilderness climbing activities—including conditional placement and maintenance of fixed anchors—through legislation.
The bill was made up of more than 100 individual bills that were introduced by 50 Senators and several House members to create five new national monuments and expand several national parks. It also designates nearly 2 million acres of new recreation, conservation, and Wilderness areas, as well as over 600 miles of Wild and Scenic River.
This landmark public lands package (S.47) was renamed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act to honor John D. Dingell, America’s longest serving Congressman, who died last month at 92 years old. A former National Park Service employee, Dingell was a lifelong conservationist.
“Not only did climbers help pass a landmark public lands bill, but we now have a legal precedent protecting low-impact climbing activities in Wilderness,” says Erik Murdock, Access Fund Policy Director. “This is a huge win for the climbing and Wilderness communities, with positive implications for every Wilderness climbing area in the country. Climbers look forward to supporting more Wilderness designations that help conserve our public lands and protect the climbing experience.”
In addition to Wilderness climbing protection, the law includes many benefits to the climbing community such as:
—Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an important program that has protected a dozen climbing areas
—Protection of the Methow Headwaters, home to some of the most outstanding climbing and mountaineering in Washington state
—Wilderness designation for San Rafael Swell through the Emery County Public Land Management
—National Heritage Area designation for the Mountains to Sound Greenway protects an outdoor paradise for rock climbing
—Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Wilderness designation protects Wilderness climbing opportunities
—Fowler and Boskoff Peaks Designation honors Colorado climbers
Access Fund would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to its members and the climbing advocacy community for rallying behind the public lands package. Access Fund members submitted nearly 10,000 letters to Congress to show their support and were critical in passing this historic public lands package.
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This article originally appeared on accessfund.com.