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National Park Service backs away from proposed ban on commercial guiding in Black Canyon wilderness zone

Black Canyon of the Gunnison. PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Are wilderness values at risk?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The National Park Service says it won’t ban commercial guiding in a wilderness zone in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison until it gets more input from stakeholders.

The announcement earlier this month garnered a positive reaction from U.S. Senator Mark Udall, who interceded with the park service on behalf of the climbing community.

“I applaud the National Park Service on its decision not to move forward with a guided-climbing ban in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park,” Udall said. “This is not only a spectacular area, but also a world-class climbing destination, and guided climbing continues to play a role in both supporting the local economy and promoting the safe and responsible use of our outdoor resources,” he said.

Earlier this year, Udall sent a joint letter with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Max Baucus (D-MT) to NPS Director Jon Jarvis, asking the NPS to consider input from the climbing and guiding community to ensure the park’s visitors continue to have access to this important service.

The park is in the process of developing an environmental assessment for wilderness and backcountry management in the park. As part of that draft plan, and to ensure consistency with national and regional policies, on alternative in the draft plan included a ban on commercial guiding in the inner canyon wilderness zone.

In a March 29 letter to Udall, regional park service director John Wessels said there won’t be any restrictions on commercial guiding without more input from stakeholders.

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