Cave Rock study same as earlier one
The preferred alternative of a draft environmental impact statement released Tuesday concerning the future of Cave Rock is identical to a proposed action commented on several months ago.
It’s a proposal the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California was not then, and is not now, satisfied with. Conversely, many rock climbers who love to scale the volcanic formation on Lake Tahoe’s east shore feel good about the proposal.
“I support climbing at Cave Rock, and I also support compromise,” said Judi Sabo of South Lake Tahoe’s Clip-In-Climbing. “As long as it stays open to climbing, even if it’s restricted to the routes that are already there, I think (climbers) are for that.”
The Washoe Tribe feels there can be no compromise.
Brian Wallace, chairman of the tribe, said the action would “dilute the memory of our heritage.”
“It’s something we’ve been preparing for. It’s not surprising, but it’s certainly disappointing,” Wallace said.
The draft EIS is not a final decision, but marks the beginning of another formal comment period on an issue that has been contentious for years. The final EIS and Forest Service decision are expected by the end of 1999.
Commenting on this proposal and possibly appealing the final EIS are the next steps for the tribe, Wallace said.
The recommended alternative – one of five proposals outlined in the document – calls for the elimination of about 20 percent of the climbing routes bolted to the rock and a prohibition of any new bolt installation. Maintenance of the existing routes could continue, but additional recreational use of the area – climbing or otherwise – would be discouraged.
Graffiti and a concrete floor inside the cave would be removed, and a program would be developed to educate people about the area’s cultural importance.
The Washoe Tribe says the rock is a powerful spiritual place.
It is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The Forest Service in 1996 determined climbing to be adversely affecting the heritage resource of Cave Rock. In 1997 the U.S. Forest Service ordered all rock climbing at the site halted because of its cultural significance to the Washoe Tribe. But because of the outcry from rock climbers, the forest service lifted the ban.
Until the final decision is made about the rock’s future, a forest order is currently in effect that prohibits any activity that damages or defaces the surface of the rock, including the installation of new rock climbing bolts. Climbing using existing bolts is allowed.
Sabo said, while people tend to see it as a climbers-vs.-Washoe issue, the Forest Service’s action could potentially affect all people visiting the site.
“It isn’t just a climbing issue,” she said.
Copies of the draft environmental impact statement are available from the U.S. Forest Service and can be downloaded from the agency’s Web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe
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