In reply to:
New York, NY 10012
Re: “Crimes Against Nature” by Kathy Dobie
Harper’s Vol. 317, No. 1898, July 2008
It is unfortunate that Kathy Dobie wrongly demonized rock climbers in her otherwise excellent article about Daniel Boone National Forest and Red River Gorge, Kentucky. With some fact checking she would have found that climbers work actively with the Forest Service to protect cultural and biological resources. For example, in 2000 archaeologists conducted a Phase II excavation of a Native American site using a $10,000 dollar grant from the national climbing organization, the Access Fund, and volunteer labor from the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition. Also, the Climbers’ Coalition does not publish the locations of archaeological sites. We do publish climbs that are closed due to conflicts with cultural and biological resources. Such sites have been fenced off by the Forest Service and these closures affect less than two dozen out of over 700 climbs in the Gorge.
Climber’s vehicles are favorite targets of the thieves mentioned in the article. By providing information on break-ins to law enforcement, climbers have assisted in the apprehension of these criminals. In discussing our mutual interests with Dr. David Pollack of the Kentucky Heritage Council he came to realize that the presence of climbers discourages looters. To demonstrate our commitment to protecting archaeological sites the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition sought and was granted Consulting Party status to the Memorandum of Agreement between the US Forest Service, the Kentucky Heritage Council, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation that governs the preservation of Heritage Resources in the Red River Gorge National Register District.
Very truly yours,
Bill Strachan, Executive Director
Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition