Perspectives on Rock Climbing Fixed Anchors Through the Lens of the Wilderness Act: Social, Legal and Environmental Implications at Joshua Tree National Park, California
AuthorMurdock, Erik Daniel
AdvisorGimblett, H. Randy
Committee ChairGimblett, H. Randy
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe issue of fixed anchors in wilderness challenges modern interpretations of the Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Act can be interpreted to allow or preclude the placement of fixed anchors in designated wilderness areas depending on whether the interpreter chooses a literal or general interpretation of the law's meaning. Place-based management options, supported by descriptive and evaluative study results, may be more closely aligned to Wilderness Act directives than nationwide, blanket policy. This research is focused on understanding the role of fixed anchors in designated wilderness in order to develop management options that protect wilderness values without hindering wilderness users. The unique nature of each wilderness area and climbing resource, in combination with distinct preferences and motivations of different climber populations, lends itself to managing fixed anchors through place-based policy that considers the landscape and the preferences of individual visitors.Joshua Tree National Park [JTNP] was chosen as the location for this case study because it has committed to establishing fixed anchor management that accommodates rock climbing and protects wilderness resources. JTNP has prohibited the placement of fixed anchors in wilderness since February 1993. By combining resource inventories, spatial modeling, and wilderness climber profiles, study results reveal that wilderness visitor destination choice is not dependent on the location of fixed anchors, but the quality, difficulty, and distance to destinations. These results can be used as the basis for a wilderness fixed anchor permit system and demonstrate that fixed anchors can fit within the confines of the Wilderness Act. Place-based management options, relative to national policies, can minimize administrative burdens and limit the geographic extent of unintended regulatory effects. The Wilderness Act's minimum administrative requirement mandate promotes this type of management style. This study of the benign fixed anchor at JTNP illustrates the power of the scientific method to neutralize wilderness recreation conflict and support streamlined wilderness management, while at the same time highlighting the shortcomings, and strengths, of the Wilderness Act as it is applied to a new era of wilderness recreation management.
Degree ProgramNatural Resources