I got a call from The Forest Service today. They asked that we hold off on any trailwork at Rumney for now. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to hold off a year to fix up a trail that is getting heavily eroded and where large rocks are cutting loose, particularly since they have always been happy with our trailwork before, but that is bureaucracy for you :-( I wouldn't let that stop me from discretely shoring something up if I thought it was dangerous, but we should hold off on doing anything major, particularly if it would entail rerouting or breaking new ground. The Forest Service trail crew, biologists etc are making their own assessment and plans for the trail system. So far we have had a pretty good working relationship with them and we should maintain that. My understanding is that the new general Forest Plan is coming out in July for comment and portions pertain to the management of climbing areas. We should all keep our eyes out for it, study it, and send in our comments.
I am somewhat concerned that with the implementation of the new Forest Plan, that the Forest Service may become a bit heavy handed and run roughshod over our Memorandum of Understanding that we worked out years ago between the RCA and the FS. In it we were given, for the most part, the position of caretaker for the maintenance of routes and the trail system. It is a system that has worked very well in the past and should work well in the future. Some of our members have been coming to Rumney for 20 even 30 years. There is a lot of experience there of the Rumney hillside, the climbing, biology, travel patterns, trail building, interaction with the town and FS, and most of all a deep love and respect for Rumney as well as a sense for the aesthetics of the area. If the creative imagination and initiative of climbers is stifled by an overly hands on approach by the FS, I think Rumney will be worse for it and the Forest Service will be shooting themselves in the foot. In light of this, I think it is important that all Rumney climbers get their contact information to the RCA so that we can maintain a dialog amongst ourselves and with the Forest service. Hopefully Bob Bruemmer has a current email address for us to send this to. Everybody can then be contacted more easily for future meetings, trail days etc.
I have also been asked to pass on the information that the Forest Service will be cracking down on the parking passes, including potential fines and towing. Apparently some in the organization would like to make an example of Rumney. Well, some of you may know how I feel about the parking passes. Many of us have refused to buy them over the years as an act of civil disobedience in protest against the commercialization of our forests, the underhanded way the program was enacted, the inefficiency, turning rangers into parking maids etc., etc. It is a bad program IMO. I am not going to tell anyone to buy the passes, only pass the info along. I didn't like it, but I finally bought one this past weekend. My feeling was that you have to pick your battles. In a time when we our trying to get our government to get us out of the mess of Iraq and all the other scandalous events, it is too easy for people to say "don't be cheep and pay your 20-25 dollars" and not get the real reasons why it is a bad program. My feeling is that it is more important not to have the issue make bad blood between us and the Forest Service, many of whom don't like it either. If we can maintain our sense of stewardship for our public land by joining the RCA and working positively with the Forest Service, than we are negating one of my main issue with the program.
Member of RCA and trail crew