BLM thinking about New Jack City Crackdown???


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middle joe

Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 31, 2012 - 06:29pm PT
I just had a lengthy conversation with the BLM's camp host at New Jack City. Apparently the BLM is not real happy with the way climbers have been following their (newish) rules and they are considering a crackdown. As many of you know the BLM has made some improvements to the area in the last two years. Some are for the better, some for the worst. With the "improvements" came rules (see the pic below)

He repeatedly told me the area is intended to be a family campground. If that's true they should have built it elsewhere; NJC is clearly a climbing area with little to offer to the general public. But, if climbers don't work with the BLM at NJC there will clearly be repercussions to the climbing community.

Some of the camp hosts issues were:
 Glass containers are no longer allowed (they are a bit late with this rule.)
 Camping is limited to established camp sites.
 Car's are not to be parked outside of their "improved" parking areas.
 Limits on the amount of cars and people per campsite (although there are no posted limits)

New Jack City has Rules
New Jack City has Rules
Credit: middle joe

I asked him to reach out to the community (like I'm doing) and let us know the BLM's concerns, but he didn't want any of that, he just inferred the BLM will have more rules and will enforce them more vehemently. So be respectful, be good guests, and know that NJC isn't a free-for-all any more.

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Oct 31, 2012 - 06:44pm PT
Other than leaving trash behind, how do climbers break the law at NJC? I see few climbers camp there. If you could get away for an overnight stay, why on earth would you go to NJC? Camping in designated campsites, not a problem for most climbing folks. Burning wood with nails or other metal fasteners? How many climbers have you ever seen bring firewood out to NJC?
I believe most of these problems are from the ATV crowd but I could be wrong on this.

I am happy to pick my trash along with anyone else's I find but the rest of the rules are most likely not being broken by visiting climbers.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Oct 31, 2012 - 06:50pm PT
Is this "host" the guy with the two big ass german shepherds?

Social climber
Oct 31, 2012 - 06:59pm PT
NJC is clearly a climbing area with little to offer to the general public.

the general public seem to be enjoying it plenty.

This land is our land, that land is your land...

edit - seems completely reasonable, as a popular sport crag next to ~15 million people (with rapidly increasing traffic) it should get buckled down. A lot of high impact user groups there, and though climbers are closer to the bottom, there IS impact.

middle joe

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 31, 2012 - 07:00pm PT
One of the few things I think is a true improvement, is that the OHV have been banned from the camping area, which effectively keeps them from camping there too. The camp host mentioned the OHV crowd don’t like this rule, but he was very clear he was having trouble with climbers now.

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Oct 31, 2012 - 07:03pm PT
Camp "hosts" are typically people looking to have a free place to stay with their RVs. They are not really BLM employees. This one sounds like he's on some kind of power trip, and is also misinformed. It's probably worth calling the local BLM office and talking to the person who has real authority over what's going on. You would at least be able to get specifics from the BLM site manager about what the perceived issues are.
middle joe

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 31, 2012 - 07:08pm PT
Elcapinyoazz – Didn’t see any dogs last weekend, He looked to be mid to late 60’ies, with the attitude of a retired marine.

GDavis - No trails, no nearby attractions, no OHV anymore, no shooting, not all that pretty, not much for families to do but climb, the only attraction is free camping (for now).

Social climber
Oct 31, 2012 - 07:11pm PT
Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

I had missed the part about the OHV's being restricted, that makes sense. Really, that was all I had seen besides climbers.

Boulder, CO
Oct 31, 2012 - 07:12pm PT
so much for SushiFest at NJC ;-)

Social climber
An Oil Field
Oct 31, 2012 - 07:19pm PT
Those rules are pretty damned simple to follow. Why the fuss?

It is hard to piss off the BLM, but if the campground manager is their only contact, then maybe the campground manager is getting a little over their job description.

I only say that because BLM land is unlike other federal lands. Normally you can do almost anything you like.

I would research how those rules even came into effect. If it isn't an archaeological site or sensitive habitat, the BLM tends to let it go. There would be a revolt if you couldn't take your dirtbikes and guns into the BLM land in Nevada.
middle joe

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 31, 2012 - 07:22pm PT
plylp - I feel the same way, but he is in charge out there. Pre-improvements NJC was pretty much an “anything goes" area. The BLM may have had some rules, but there was nobody there to enforce them. I’m just trying to let people know that if they go out there with the old “anything goes/free-for-all” attitude they may make things worst for other climbers.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Oct 31, 2012 - 07:25pm PT
Sounds like a different "host". Last guy I saw had two burly dogs and would just drive around in his giant diesel dually and stop it at the bottom of crags idling some sweet diesel fumes while staring at you. Not even a greeting.

Social climber
Oakland, CA
Oct 31, 2012 - 07:31pm PT
That camp host was a creep who would just stalk you in his truck. Not sure if its the same guy or not but it doesn't sound like much of an improvement.

Everything about the BLM handling of NJC is super weird. Gravelling roads right through washes... tons of gravel washed into the desert after the first storm.

Installing a camp host. WTF for?

Putting a fake dinosaur skeleton playground in the middle of the desert.

Trying to enforce rules in a place like NJC.

All that camp host can do is get on his phone and call a BLM ranger. THen wait 20 minutes for the ranger to show up. He can't write tickets, all he can do is make noise. BLM does a good job of picking fascists for the job though.
middle joe

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 31, 2012 - 07:41pm PT
You're right, it is weird plan. No input from the land users (climbers) that I'm aware of. The new camp host is a bit aggressive about enforcing the rules, he came and talked to us 3 times in the first hour we were there. I heard he was stopping cars as they left and lecturing/questioning everyone.
dave goodwin

carson city, nv
Oct 31, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
I went there several years ago on my way to JT. Pulled in at night. It was a free for all. Guys riding horses with Josie Wales outfits shooting their pistols in the air, while other guys shot potatos covered with glow stick liquid out of PVC tube. We called it Yahoo City!!

The next day my buddy Donny bailed of a really overhang .12 and Josie came up on his horse and retrieved his draws. I thought I would have to drive my truck in and step on the camper shell to get them.

Besides all this, the broken glass, it was fun convenient climbing for a day or two. Always wondered how things would progress there with higher usage. Not just climbers but everyone.

Scariest part was pulling into the McDonalds in Barstow right before the turn off for HWY 247? I did not go inside!!

Social climber
An Oil Field
Oct 31, 2012 - 08:15pm PT
If climbing is threatened, nobody will go there. Certainly not enough to operate a campground.

If Climbing IS threatened, then get organized. Get the word out and then flood the BLM with emails and letters. Make sure that you CC the head of the Dept of Interior.

That leaves a paper trail which is useful later.

Start off easy. Don't let anyone go berserk and write threatening or batshit crazy letters.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge came THIS CLOSE to having all climbing banned.

The USFWS quoted a biologist and a couple of other visitors as reason enough to shut us down. Wrong thing to do, as the climbing community had a number of PhD's onboard with way more experience in all facets.

The USFWS first did an environmental review that was totally bogus. Some of it had some geology in there, and since Oklahoma Climbers were filled to the gills with geologists, we tore the environmental review to shreds. I mean, they didn't do their homework, thinking it would be a cakewalk to get their way, and we tore them to shreds.

We started a very efficient organization and were lucky enough to have a senate aid in our group. He wrote a few letters to the head of the USFWS over the matter and they ignored him.

In the next big bill that came through the senate, he inserted a small law that required that the USFWS to do a thorough review before banning any recreational activity. That wasn't a big deal in the Wichita's, but it affected jetskis on some lakes, and other things that the USFWS was up to.

After that bill passed, the refuge manager took "early retirement," and a new manager who had a brain, was put in place.

We never wanted to hurt anything at the refuge, so we came up with our own set of rules to keep climbing from getting out of hand with the rising population of climbers. Mainly this involved a bolting committe, which has been no big deal, because it is a trad area and most of the bolting consisted of replacemnent and power drills in the wilderness part.

We did insist on banning sport rappelling there. The Refuge adjoins Fort Sill to the south, and there had always been a steady stream of drunken off duty soldiers who were rappelling with zero knowledge and getting hurt or worse now and then.

We also built a proper trail into the best climbing area, financed in part by the Access Fund. We bought a ton of trailbuilding equipment and donated it to the refuge. They use us as an annual slave labor unit to keep our trail and others in shape. I never realized how important proper trails are until then. Without an obvious trail, there ends up being a spiderweb of eroding trails all over the place.

It all ended up good for climbers and the Refuge all around. We never intended to really punish the USFWS, because they generally do a good job, or at least they do here.

What followed is 20 years of peace still going strong.

Another climbing area about an hour west of the refuge is a big slabby dome that was on private land, but the farmer loved climbers and we used to pretty much live there in a mini-camp 4 situation.

He died and a developer wanted to buy it. We raised half of the money and the Access Fund matched it. So we bought our own climbing area. Since the Access Fund and the climbers aren't in the land owning business, we donated it to the state and it became part of an adjacent state park.

In the deed it says that climbing will always be allowed. We had an attorney write up a really solid deed.

It was a big deal, Probably 150 routes were saved, and the governor even showed up for the ribbon cutting.

Everyone has to win something when negotiating. Climbers have to kind of get their act together to prevent the area from becoming a gigantic trash can, and land managers need to realize that climbers are a legitimate use of the area. If all parties walk away with something, then it is a win win situation.

Our fight took three years or so. When that legislation went into effect, heads rolled all the way to Washington, or at least to the District Office.

One little refuge manager went on his own crusade and got his ass handed to him, but in the bigger picture, we created a framework that everybody could deal with. Mainly that we could keep climbing.

A word of caution: Don't lose your cool and write a bunch of angry letters that will be used against you down the road.

I played the "bad cop" in the whole situation. We decided that I wouldn't be a part of the climber's association so that I would be free to bombard them with FOIA requests. Man, do they hate FOIA requests.

That was our template. It might not work where you are. It sounds to me like the only one in control of enforcing rules is the campground manager, and those characters are usually seasonally hired old folks who collect the money. They should have zero power over rule making.

So if there is a problem, start a dialog with the local BLM office. Good communication can prevent all sorts of problems.

Trad climber
Mt. Rubidoux
Oct 31, 2012 - 11:23pm PT
As middle joe, GDavis, and BASE104 have indicated up post...with improvements comes regulation. New Jack City was like the wild, wild west, but with the OHV, shooters, and partiers gone it should be a pretty pleasant destination for law abiding climbers. If there's an issue with the host, contact the BLM office and be vocal about your concerns. I'm sure if everyone who posted on this thread contacted the BLM and viewed their concerns, and had a friend or partner do the same, we'd have this sorted out, in our favor, in no time.

Social climber
Oct 31, 2012 - 11:32pm PT
Alrighty then! Cans it is!

I remember the creepy truck-stalker guy.
susan peplow

Joshua Tree, CA
Oct 31, 2012 - 11:43pm PT

Agreed, climbers are typically in compliance. Maybe this is is a new dude and not familar with the law-abiding climber type? If so, let's try not and be combative but educate the man that we are on the "good-side" of things. For now I plan on being respectful and assuming the host is trying to protect our public lands.

I certainly hope they're not one of those power hungry host type. If so, he doesn't know what he's in for. Lots of educated, professional climbers willing to go to the mat if needed.

As it has it, we're going to NJC tomorrow. This post couldn't have come at a better time.


edit: Yeah Erik, I was with Caughtinside when the slow-down motion came at 3 mph and the cruise throught the loop. WTF Host-Dude, shouldn't you be manning your 4 sticks of wood for a $5 "donation"?


Jim Henson's Basement
Nov 1, 2012 - 12:42am PT
Yeah- we are heading out there this weekend too as a matter of fact.

I suspect the camp host is misinformed, or just on a power trip inflating issues that either don't exist or are easily addressed. Hopefully the BLM is willing to open a direct line of communication. Some random "host" is not a reliable source of information about BLM management IMO.

Seems like climbers are generally in compliance with that board. Since they installed the campgrounds, banned the ORV's and made the NRA junkies unwelcome, it's a million times better. The only issue might be cars parking in random areas but there are currently no signs in place dictating the BLM's guidelines on that. Climbers are generally in and out in daylight hours (not violating the quiet time) and I haven't noticed large amounts of trash being left behind at the base of the climbs. Speeding might be an issue.

I dunno. Jus' speculatin'

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