Proposed Kentucky Highway Improvements Could Negatively Impact Muir Valley Climbing

Date: 11/19/2008

By Doris Edwards, Friends of Muir Valley, Co-chair; Rick and Liz Weber, Muir Valley, LLC, owners

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) is undertaking a project that could have a significant detrimental impact on climbing access to Muir Valley Nature Preserve. The poorly publicized timeline and funding for this project are not definitive, so the final outcome can still be influenced by public comment. Local, non-climbing residents favor an alternative which results in less impacts to their own properties and greater impacts to the Muir Valley Preserve. It is imperative that climbers weigh in and let the KTC know how their alternative plans would impact climbing and other forms of recreation.

In less than five years, Muir Valley has grown to be one of the highest visited climbing venues in the Eastern U.S. In 2007, over 10,600 visitor days were recorded for the Preserve and will rise to over 12,000 in 2008. Muir Valley is privately owned, climber friendly, and free to the public.

Specifically, the KTC is studying how to re-route and improve KY Highway 715 between KY 11 near Zachariah and the Mountain Parkway in Wolfe County. A total of nine alternatives are under consideration. Most of these alternatives would have a negative impact on Muir Valley as a portion of the Preserve would be acquired through eminent domain, possibly closing the emergency and maintenance road entrance to the Valley. KTCs Alternatives A, C, or X (X being nothing changes) would have the least detrimental impact to Muir Valley, but Alternatives E or F would have a disastrous one. The very heart of the Preserve would be lost to eminent domain and the Muir Valley owners would likely close the Preserve to all recreational activities (including climbing) permanently. Click here to view a map of Muir Valley with the study area shown overlaid in pink. The map shows that over half of the climbs in Muir Valley lie in area that could be taken by eminent domain.

Muir Valley owners, Rick and Liz Weber, are in contact with KY officials and have commented on alternatives. They appreciate the support and guidance of the Access Fund, specifically Jason Keith, Access Fund Policy Director, in dealing with the public process. Updated information will be posted on www.MuirValley.com as available.

Climbers and other interested parties are strongly encouraged to help protect their access to Muir Valley by submitting comments. Request that the Alternative selected be one that will have the least impact on Muir Valley. Written comments should be sent to:
Director, Division of Planning
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
200 Mero Street Station W5-05-0
Frankfort, KY 40622
Or contact: [email protected]