Friday, September 4, 2009

Mount Erie Threatened!

Mount Erie has long been a valuable climbing resource. The small crag is nestled just outside the town of Anacortes and provides great cragging nearby major urban centers. Unfortunately, this resource is being threatened by changes being made to the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

There will be a public meeting about these changes on September 8th
at City Hall (904 6th Street, Anacortes) at 7:30 in the evening. Local climbers are invited to come and express their opinions. Better yet, climbers are encouraged to send their written comments to John Lunsford, City of Anacortes, Parks and Rec Department, P.O. Box 547, Anacortes, WA 98221. These need to be received prior to the meeting on the 8th. It is also possible to send in comments via email to

Climbers on the Powerline Wall at Mount Erie
Photo by Dana Hickenbottom

Following a a quick breakdown of the concerns that we have:
  1. Though this crag is somewhat urban in nature, the new management plan places an emphasis on preservation over recreation. This is not a pristine wilderness, but instead a park-like environment that people have used for climbing, scrambling and hiking for years.
  2. The new management plan lumps Mount Erie in with the rest of the forest lands that have significant issues that should be looked at separately. Motorcycles and horses have nothing to do with the south face of Mount Erie. The areas need to be managed separately.
  3. Off trail use will be subject to citation. Many of the climbers trails between crags could be defined as off-trail. Indeed, the very nature of scrambling at Mount Erie could be threatened. Scrambling by its very definition is off-trail travel. The historic use of the south side trails should be grandfathered into the Mount Erie plan.
  4. All organizations that run trips at Mount Erie including non-profit groups, climbing clubs, universities and guide services will be required to carry a $5 million dollar liability policy. AAI runs programs in 6 states and 16 countries. Nobody else requires such a high liability policy.
  5. All groups and organizations that run trips to the south side of Mount Erie will be required to make a reservation months in advance. University and climbing clubs usually make plans on a short notice. Commerical guide services commonly receive calls days before a trip is to go out.
  6. The plan currently proposes that a small committee will oversee Mount Erie. This committee will be made up of 3 climbers/scramblers, 1 naturalist and 1 member of the Kiwanis Noon Club. It makes a lot more sense to have the committee made up of all climbers and scramblers so that they are able to actually look at any sites on the south face where there are problems.
The city council wants to hear from the local climbing community. So please write to them or attend the meeting on the 8th!

--Jason D. Martin


Terra Reilly said...

HI Jason - I just became aware of this today. Of course, one day it too late to take part and work to get the site kept open? I'm in Seattle but spend a lot of weekends in Anacortes and have a large group of climber friends in Seattle and elsewhere in the PNW that I've sent this information to.

Any update on what happened? Thanks!

American Alpine Institute said...

I went to the meeting last night. A lot of people spoke about the different items that I listed in the blog.

There was no consensus. It was merely people speaking.

They did decide to keep the written public comment period open until Friday, September 11, 2009.

If you would like to make comments, please do so and get it to them right away!