Final Master Plan for Chimney Rock State Park Contains Significant Improvements for Climbers

Date: 7/17/2011

The final Master Plan for Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina, which includes the Rumbling Bald area, was released earlier this month, containing revisions to the 2010 draft that better reflect the popularity of climbing in the Park and may allow access to more climbing areas in the future. Take a look at the new Master Plan here. The Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) played an important role in the development of the revisions, working with the Division of Parks and Recreation to make sure climbers’ needs were met.

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) released the draft master plan for Chimney Rock State Park in late 2010. The park contains the highly popular Rumbling Bald area, site of an Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign project, as well as numerous other historic and potential climbing resources. The Master Plan, presented by the DENR as “a 100-year vision, 25-year master plan and 5-year action,” acts as the blueprint for long-term park management and development, and guides future policy decisions.

The draft Master Plan contained misguided statements about climbing impacts and failed to adequately acknowledge climbers’ previous park planning input. There was no discussion of creating a climbing management plan, an effective way to manage climbing and build cooperation between climbers and land managers. In addition, no mention was made of the possibility for future access to many of the desired climbing and bouldering areas.

CCC and the Access Fund immediately co-wrote a letter to N.C. State Parks and members of the N.C. legislature, outlining climbers’ criticisms and suggesting specific revisions to the plan. Because of the mutual respect and desire to cooperate that both parties showed, the subsequent in-person meeting between the CCC and state park personnel proved very beneficial. Not only was the need for climber-specific revisions to the park’s Master Plan well-received, the long history of cooperation and partnership between climbers and N.C. State Parks was reaffirmed.

Recently released, the final Master Plan is significantly improved, outlining an ongoing cooperative partnership between climbers and the state park, and the possibility of evaluating additional new climbing areas that meet park guidelines. According to the Master Plan, “N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will work with the climbing community to consider opening additional climbing areas through the development of a comprehensive climbing and bouldering management plan.”

To learn more about the Carolina Climbers’ Coalition, please visit their website.

You can find more information on Chimney Rock State Park, as well as their Master Plan, here.