BLM Remains Determined to Close Massacre Rocks, ID

Date: 8/14/2011

Last month the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho announced their proposal to close up to 600 acres at Massacre Rocks near American Falls. The closure is intended to protect sensitive cultural resources within the Cedar Field Archaeological District and will likely restrict access to several hundred bolt-protected basalt sport climbs.

According to the BLM, while grazing and off highway vehicle (OHV) use has been restricted for several years (although not enforced according to locals), until now climbing has been allowed to proceed unmanaged. The BLM will soon issue a scoping notice to the federal register outlining a 1-2 year process to amend the BLM’s existing Resource Management Plan (RMP). This RMP amendment will propose climbing provisions for the recent 500-acre closure of BLM land at Castle Rocks near City of Rocks (note that Castle Rocks State Park remains open to climbing), and propose climbing restrictions for Massacre Rocks. Climbing on BLM lands outside the Archaeological District and on Bureau of Reclamation land adjacent to the Snake River at Massacre Rocks will remain unaffected by the new restrictions. The BLM intends to accept public comment and issue a decision later this summer.

The Access Fund has been working with Idaho climbers in Pocatello, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Boise, Ketchum and elsewhere to develop a plan for mobilizing climbers, requesting additional information from the BLM to justify the closure, and reaching out to Congress urging a more balanced management approach. Recently, local climbers have met at Massacre Rocks with the BLM manager and member of the Shoshone Bannock tribal council to propose alternative management to a closure, but the BLM is determined to ignore best management practices and close the entire 600 acres. Stay tuned to the Access Fund for an action alert with more information on the closure and directions for public comment. For more information, email [email protected].