Your thoughts on technical aspects of gating an access road?


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A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 15, 2010 - 04:43pm PT
A few of us have been developing a new climbing area in Washington. Access is via a logging company road, and the climbing area itself does not have any access/wilderness/private land issues. Climbers are welcome to be there, and have a good relationship with the logging company that owns the road, and with the state Dept of Natural Resources (DNR) which has charge over the area.

However, while climbers have always been welcome, DNR has been forced to close the road due to damage inflicted by ORV riders -- damage to the road (which upsets the logging company) and damage to the watershed (which brings down the force of the law).

During the road closure, climbers have worked with DNR crews to rebuild trails in the area, and the logging company has re-graded the road. Both the DNR and the logging company seem happy to have climbers, hikers, fishers, mountain bikers, etc using the land. The problem is the ORV users that have ignored the closure, harassed DNR employees, shot up the no-camping signs, etc.

One of the options under consideration is making access to the road available to selected users. It pretty much has to be a really burly physical lock and key system, because any kind of electronic system would be destroyed by gunfire within a day of it being installed.

In southwestern British Columbia, where I spent many years, logging companies would often gate their roads to prevent vandalism, but were generally more than happy to make keys available to the climbing community.

So, my question is: Have any of you had experience with similar situations here in the US? We’ve heard of arrangements where climbers have been allowed to pay a nominal fees to join a “club”, sign a piece of paper, and get a key to a gate like this. We’ve also heard of arrangements where climbers have been allowed to check out keys on a per-day basis from some local authority. But we’d like to gather some more firsthand information.

Is anyone aware of systems that have been tried in the past to manage key access to a place like this?

David Harris
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
Jun 15, 2010 - 04:59pm PT
I have a few far is the hike in? what happens if you want to climb and are not tied in to the scene so you have no access to a key? why not reach out to the orv people and get them to regulate themselves the way the climbers have?

A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 15, 2010 - 05:10pm PT

Access without a key isn't impossible. From the logging company's high point the hike is about 45 - 50 minutes uphill. Really nice hike through beautiful forest. Not being able to drive to the high point adds just under an hour, bringing the total hike to about 1 hr. 45 min. Not impossible, but if we can arrange some kind of key access, it would be much better. The crag itself is big and beautiful -- multipitch trad climbing on perfect granite in a beautiful setting, close to Seattle.

As to working with the ORV folks, that's been tried, but they take the view that its their goddam country, and no f*#king government as#@&%es have any right to stop them from tearing it up, trashing the watershed, drinking, shooting, and doing whatever the hell they please and you city folks can go f*#k yourselves if you don't like it. Individually, we all get along. Wave to each other, talk if we bump into one another, but in terms of self-regulation... well it just hasn't worked.

But this is not a case of one group being shut out in favor of others. The area in question is huge, and the DNR has made it clear that ORV riding is not forbidden. It will be allowed in certain areas, but has to be restricted in others.

Hope that helps

Social climber
So Cal
Jun 15, 2010 - 05:11pm PT
For liability purposes make sure it's a steel pipe swing gate, not a cable or chain just in case some drunk decides to drive thru at high speed and loses his head over it.

One setup I've seen used by the USFS for restricted roads is a combination lock. You check in at a ranger station, They get your licence plate number and they give you the combination. The combination is changed weekly. A phone in system could be developed also.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 15, 2010 - 07:44pm PT
I have had to deal with the keyed gate thing for fishing access and it worked fairly well. Some areas are worse than others when it comes to redneck entitlement and lack of self regulation. I think the area you are talking about can be pretty weird sometimes; lot's of meth in the vicinity.

A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 17, 2010 - 12:22pm PT
Thursday morning bump in case someone who hasn't seen this has useful input
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Jun 17, 2010 - 12:47pm PT
Ghost, is the property that the road travels across owned by the logging company or the DNR? Is the crag on private or DNR land? Is the area being actively logged with the road used for moving logs, not being used but currently maintained, or is it slated for decommissioning?

Jun 17, 2010 - 12:59pm PT
If the land is federally or state owned (which is sounds like it is, if the DNR is responsible for it), it sounds like it would be difficult to limit access to the area to select user groups. The ORV groups would be sure to (legally) challenge any kind of system that doesn't allow them to access the land, yet allows other users to access it.

Have you checked with the Access Fund for their experience with situations like this? They may be too distracted to take it on themselves (and you probably aren't seeking that), but they may have some advice to lend.

A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 17, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
Todd & Apogee

Thanks for the thoughts. The legalities of the situation are important -- obviously -- and could be the subject of another debate. What we're really looking for here is the experience others have had with the "Gate locked, but key available" scenario.

If you're interested, I'll try to sum up the land-ownership aspects in a later post. But I'm on deadline for the end of today, and probably won't be able to check in again till tomorrow.

In the meantime, all thoughts appreciated.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 17, 2010 - 03:51pm PT
Apogee, there is plenty of precedent for restricting use of roads only to certain parties. It doesn't have to be perfectly rational, either. There are plenty of YNP trails where you can take stock, but not a mountain bike. It's not clear that the mountain bikers are more destructive than horses and mules.

I also know an awful lot of responsible ORV users. It's a pity that they (and everyone else) have no effective way of getting the jerks out of the mountains.


Trad climber
Everett, Wa
Jul 6, 2010 - 05:18pm PT
I'm semi-familiar with the situation but Ghost is definitely more "in the loop".

There is currently no logging going on but the timber company plans to log more at a later date tbd.

The crag is 45 minutes to an hour beyond the end of the road so without the road it becomes a roughly two hour hike. A little beyond a nice warm-up but not absurdly long. It would just be nice to have the road open.

There is also a stellar bouldering area basically at the top of the road.


Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Aug 29, 2010 - 06:00pm PT
Lezarian....i was a wilderness ranger for one summer performing trail maintenance...the packers ruined a lot of our work in one fell bikes do not do as much damage as pack animals...orv users , mainly dirt bikers , destroy logging roads with their rooster tail , throttle twisting behavior...this type of abuse leaves logging roads-public access non-usable to other users due to the erosion created by their resource damage.....keep the orv ers out....rj

Trad climber
carsoncity nv
Aug 29, 2010 - 06:44pm PT
Todays AP story outlines the same exact reasoning, and out of safety
concerns for the public; restrictions become permanent closures. Its cheaper to close these areas, than to reclaim a damaged watershed. Get
ready nationwide for bigbrother to close access to many remote places.
Here in Nevada the feds control I think 90% of the land, and to lose access to such a large chunk of land would suck.
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