Gunks Cliff Closure


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Caped Crusader

Trad climber
Gardiner, NY
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 8, 2009 - 08:30am PT
In Gardiner, New York, five pieces of land abutting the Mohonk Preserve are now closed. Accordingly, roughly 1700 feet of the Millbrook Ridge Trail has been rerouted off private land. Also, approximately 900 feet of cliff face in the Bayards and the Near Trapps is closed, including today’s closure of land south of the route Eenie Meenie in the middle of the Near Trapps.

For all those who have been, and continue to be, respectful of private property, on behalf of the owners of the above land, I thank you and apologize for this inconvenience.

For those who act as if they have a “fundamental right to climb”, support the Town of Gardiner’s punitive and coercive Ridge Zoning Law, and the Mohonk Preserve’s predatory land acquisition practices, these closures are a consequence of your flagrant disrespect for private property. The Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC), the local Access Fund affiliate, deserves special mention. The GCC Chairman and Co-Chairman have both expressed support for the ridge zoning law, which unfairly takes so much from so few. In defending his support of the zoning law, when speaking of a specific property the GCC was trying to buy, the GCC Chair said “if the new zoning goes through, the property may become less valuable to the landowner and he may become much more willing to do the deal. This is one example of how these things are approached”. In addition, for years the GCC has steadfastly refused to establish any relationship with individual private landowners at three Gunks crags in Gardiner: the Near Trapps, the Bayards, and Millbrook. More than any other single party, today’s Near Trapps cliff closure is for the GCC.

Protecting Little Old Ladies on The Shawangunk Ridge from bullies and marauders….

The Caped Crusader

Trad climber
Southern Tier, NY
Apr 8, 2009 - 08:50am PT
What are the chances that you also happen to be a land owner?

Social climber
davis, ca
Apr 8, 2009 - 10:17am PT
caped crusader sounds a lot like kent

for the record kent - i'd have a lot more respect for your opinion if you dropped all of the transparent bullshit about rights and principles and just came out and told everyone what this is really about - MONEY

you want MONEY - maybe not now, but you want more MONEY for your property somewhere down the line...

i'll grant you that you allude to this, but you always couch it in terms of some sort of grander pretense...i call bullsh#t...i'll also grant you that i'm not much of a fan of the gcc either but their version of comic book villain hardly makes you the caped crusader by comparison

you're greedy, the preserve is greedy, the gcc is greedy, climbers are greedy, people are greedy...we all want what we cant have

you're process is no more the high road than the preserves

sad days when climbers are f*#king other climbers in the ass over a few bucks

Social climber
davis, ca
Apr 8, 2009 - 10:34am PT

one of the best of all possible places...the gunks...
john fairfield

Big Wall climber
Apr 8, 2009 - 10:35am PT
+1 ^

yup sure sounds like good old quit claim deed kent.

Hey Kent why ya tellin all the cali climbers about the access being closed on your crumbly little choss pile behind your house?

You have neglected to even post this on Hmmmm.

good luck to ya crepped crapsader on your egotistical mission.

I'll see ya
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 8, 2009 - 11:10am PT
I have related the story of getting kicked out of the Mohonk Mountain House on a trip back to the 'Gunks sometime this decade...

... the Guthrie-ite idea espoused in This Land Is Your Land are relatively recent, and mostly executed in the west as the east had all been bought up long before such sentiments became popular, and politically viable.

I do love the Catskills, and the Hudson River Valley... it is all owned, which is a pity, but it serves as a reminder and a lesson to us "California climbers" that the places we love could have also been that way, privately owned, and that our access subject to constant negotiation.

How does one own the land? It is still a very strange concept to me. Basically by asserting their rights through the threat of bodily harm. Ah 21st century "civilization." Things have not progressed as far, perhaps, as we might have guessed.

Thomas Cole, Catskill Mountain House The Four Elements 1843-1844

Social climber
davis, ca
Apr 8, 2009 - 11:35am PT
if the tacostand is a temple then ed (and werner) are its oracles

Trad climber
the base of the Shawangunk Ridge
Apr 8, 2009 - 12:30pm PT
I have not gone onto private property simply because the risk of being disturbed was far outweighed by the benefits of being relatively isolated and left to climb in peace. The preserve has not been predatory in their acquisition of land-- they have bought up land and set it aside for public use and relative conservation.

I am sure that if the caped crusader had his way that all the property along the ridge would be designated for multi-million dollar mansions-- after we do need more vacation homes looming over our grubby little hovels below. Under the thinly veiled guise of sticking up for little old ladies your rhetoric rings hollow.

I find it hard to believe that this is all about climbers bullying and abusing the landowners- having spent a great deal of time back in those areas, even during the peak times of the season, they tend to be very sparsely populated, and then by people who are simply looking for some space from the crowds.

What about trying to get help from the Preserve and the rangers? I have never seen any behavior from gunks climbers (locals, at least)which would knowingly jeopardize access. All closures or restrictions have been respected, so far as I have witnessed.

The affected areas seem peripheral enough(to non climbers) that the perception is that they can be pinched without anyone putting up too big of a stink.


For what its worth, I will be respectful of closures however bogus and idiotic they are; however I feel very free to express my opinion of them and their proponents.
Caped Crusader

Trad climber
Gardiner, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 8, 2009 - 05:39pm PT
For many years, on a level playing field, the Mohonk Preserve has offered landowners far less than the land was worth and most landowners have declined. Then a new strategy emerged. The Mohonk Preserve used the “Green Assets Program”, essentially a lobbying campaign, to influence the comprehensive plans and zoning laws of a number of towns around the Preserve. The result in Gardiner has been a ridge zoning law which has stripped hundreds of thousands of dollars each from some landowners, and in one case over a million. Millions in total. We are happy to share the burden of preserving the land. We are not happy to shoulder it in such a grossly disproportionate way.

Many climbers, including the leadership within the climbing community, were supportive of the zoning law, climbers on the boards of The Mohonk Preserve, the Friends of the Shawangunks, and the GCC included. The community, many many climbers included, has chosen fit to burden a handful of people for something that benefits everyone. Given the circumstances, climbers have no reasonable expectation of a good relationship with ridge landowners or access to their land.

Porkchop brings up a common straw man argument which is, if we landowners don’t like the new zoning then we must want McMansions all the way down the ridge. If that were the case landowners would have chopped up their land into little pieces and developed the crap out of it long before the passage of the zoning law. Instead the landowners affected adversely by the law have been exceptionally good stewards of the land. That’s why you don’t see houses all over the eastern escarpment of the ridge.

For anyone who thinks landowners are greedy I invite you to come visit the neighbors with me for a day. We’ll drive around, meet some people, and walk their land. You’ll hear them talk about their love of the land, but also about how the ridge zoning law impacts them. Then see if you want to come back here and tell everyone how greedy you think they are.

All of this could have been done much more fairly. If the 10,000 Mohonk Preserve members contributed $100 a year each to a land fund the Preserve would have $1,000,000 a year set aside for conflict free land preservation . The Nature Conservancy identified the Shawangunk Ridge as one of “the last ten great places on earth” and they were intimately involved with the Green Assets Program. If the 1,000,000 Nature Conservancy members contributed just $1 a year each then another million a year would be available for conflict free land preservation. Instead, a handful of landowners are burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars each, collectively millions, in costs. Because we landowners object to this, climbers think we are greedy.

The Gunks community, climbers included, deserves a land preservation organization like the Harvard Forest with their Program On Conservation Innovation, and we deserve a climbing access organization like the Southeastern Climber’s Coalition, which has done a great job of promoting climbing access and respecting private property.

As for my personal motivations, my financial interests have largely been protected, so I am in fact standing up for little old ladies on the ridge, among others. These modest and gracious people, long time residents on the ridge, have been thrown under the bus. If I don’t speak up for them, who will?
Aya K

Trad climber
New York
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:05pm PT
I have been listening to this go back and forth between Kent and the GCC for what seems like forever on and I STILL don't understand how keeping me (not a landowner, not a local, not a GCC member, but a long time gunks climber - like the vast vast vast majority of gunks climbers (honestly I don't even know what the GCC does except like try to promote bouldering or something????)) accomplishes for anyone?

If I, someone who has been frequenting forever, barely understand who and what the GCC are, do you think the majority of gunks climbers have even HEARD of it? As someone who has been frequenting forever, I still can't quite wrap my head around all of this zoning ridge blah blah blah blah blah blah blah stuff, so do you think that the average gunks climber has even heard of this big fight? And given that, do you think the average gunks climber who has been climbing in the Near Trapps for the past 30 years is going to take new No Trespassing signs seriously?? I don't.

I mean,personally I will respect any new no trespassing signs (looks like I'll be heading to Lost City a lot more on weekends rather than the far Nears), but really?

I can read what Kent writes, and I can understand, try to sympathize with and accept his point of view, but if I need to be honest about my emotions, well, it all seems sad, dumb, and ultimately pointless to me.
Caped Crusader

Trad climber
Gardiner, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 8, 2009 - 06:24pm PT
Hi Aya,

How is school going?

I'll try to put it in a more succinct and human way. Because of the zoning law, one retired landowner, who was counting on being able to sell his land to fund the latter part of his retirement, if he lived that long, may well be shopping for his groceries in the pet food aisle.

Doesn't that upset anyone beside me?

Aya K

Trad climber
New York
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:29pm PT
Kent - it's a lot of busy work and I'd rather just be doing clinical stuff all the time!

I understand that you want to preserve the property value. That's not the point of my post.

I don't understand what keeping me, the average gunks climber, from traversing a 150ft section at the base of the Nears is doing to help that in any way, shape, or form. Saying that the most recent closure was precipitated by "bad attitude" is only confusing me even more. Which is it?

Also, to the vast vast vast majority of climbers, this closure (the first one that really impacts any significant number of climbers) coming TOTALLY out of the blue. We don't yet know how climbers are going to react, but I can almost guarantee that if you think "climbers" (all gunks climbers, the vast majority of whom don't know even know of your existence? or a few climbers from the GCC and whom the majority of climbers don't know exist? the infinitesimally small percentage of gunks climbers whom you've found trespassing on your property? who, exactly?) have a bad attitude now, it's going to be much worse before it gets any better. And I do hope it gets better.

Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:29pm PT
Sure it's upsetting. It's also upsetting that this person was naive enough to think that nothing would ever change regarding the value of their land, particularly when it abuts protected open space. Particularly after seeing how the scuttled Marriott resort in the 80's initially put some of this in motion.

Trad climber
El Portal, CA
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:31pm PT
And what are these various sums of millions of dollars going to do... settle "landowner disputes"... pay landowners off?

edit: what bvb said.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:35pm PT
without knowing anything about this, i will say its hard for me to believe, as implied in the above posts, that a bunch of climbers are resposible for creating and new zoning laws in the hudson river valley.

we're just not that organized.
Caped Crusader

Trad climber
Gardiner, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 8, 2009 - 06:44pm PT
Aya, we are very appreciative of climbers who are respectful of private property rights. And so too, climbers have had unfettered access to private land for decades. This only began to change when the community, climbers included, stripped us of many of our property rights.

Hagerty, yeah, I was naive to think the MP would be a good neighbor. I'm making up for it now.

Domingo, the various millions would be available so the Preserve could compete in the marketplace for land rather than engaging in skullduggery. The skullduggery is destroying any sense of community we have here.

Bvb, I consider what the preservation community here has done to be immoral and unethical, but I also recognize it is very very organized.
Aya K

Trad climber
New York
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:52pm PT
Kent, that doesn't answer my questions in the slightest.

Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:56pm PT
>This only began to change when the community, climbers included, stripped us of many of our property rights.
Please stop lumping locals who just happen to be climbers in with the much larger community of Gunks climbers. And stop blaming the vast majority of Gunks climbers, who aren't locals, with stripping you of your property rights simply because they're paying for an annual Preserve pass and not storming the Gardiner town hall with pitch forks.

Trad climber
Boss Angeles
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:57pm PT
Damn Smiley Brothers.

Apr 8, 2009 - 07:01pm PT
Hi Kent,

I have a quick question. If indeed the land was taken away or the zoning rights were taken away or whatever... and the property value has indeed decreased... aren't you saving a bundle on property taxes? Granted it certainly doesn't cover the foregone land value, but I know this is a large part of the reason why some wealthy land owners put their land into conservation easements.
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