Letter — Clumbing ban unwarranted
I am writing you about the proposed closure of Cave Rock to rock climbing. I am a firm believer in indigenous rights and the free expression of religion, however, I think that a ban on climbing is unwarranted and is unnecessary to protect native religious practices.
Climbers are a very passionate group of outdoor enthusiasts. Climbers are not especially organized, probably due to the fact that they are a freedom loving bunch of people. That does not mean that they are opposed to all regulations, but they are sensitive to proposed regulations that appear to single them out. I have been climbing at Cave Rock on occasion for over ten years. When compared to the horrendous traffic noise from truck air brakes, idling speedboats, and the horn honks of visitors, the impact of climbers is small. Most climbers have a profound respect for nature, and the practice of their craft is their way of connecting with the natural world.
I have seen photographs dated 1915 that show the current condition of Cave Rock is far different from it’s prehistoric configuration. Aside from the two tunnels carved through the very heart of the cave, the current open mouth of the cave was appeared to have once been filled with debris, and was only removed at a later date. It is my understanding that prehistoric religious rites were primarily performed on the top of Cave Rock, and that proposed regulations would still allow access to this area to the public. If this is in fact true, I fail to see how restricting or banning access to the cave mouth would protect the ability of Native groups to practice their religion.
Even if these last two points are incorrect, the precedence set by banning one user group to establish a religious site would be very dangerous and counterproductive. While it may be a great challenge to the Forest Service to balance the occasionally conflicting interest of different stakeholders, they must rise to the occasion and not simply rely on draconian regulations and closures of a internationally recognized climbing destination.
South Lake Tahoe
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