Joe’s Valley’s reputation as some of the best bouldering country in the world has grown immensely over the years. With its large concentration of sandstone boulders and beautiful emerald reservoir, it has become one of the world’s premier sites for bouldering.
This area attracts climbers from all across the globe because of many moderate and advanced climbs. Almost every day during the spring and summer months, cars line the road’s shoulders and climbers scale the walls of Straight Canyon.
However, the increased use of the area is causing strain on local resources. From erosion at the base of boulders and approach paths to human waste concerns in the local water supply, there are many issues facing the Bureau of Land Management.
The BLM, coupled with the US Forest Service and the Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance (SLCA), has prepared an environmental assessment to evaluate the impact of recreation activities in the area. The assessment will also help formulate potential future management alternatives for the area.
The SLCA, a non-profit organization that works on assuring climbing access through advocacy and conservation efforts, took initial steps to limit the concerns of human waste in Joe’s Valley by installing two seasonal port-a-pots in the area seven years ago. However, these are now overrun by visitor use and cost the non-profit approximately $2,500 a year to maintain.
As of right now, the area is a free-for-all. There are no designated areas for fires or camping, which makes it that much more difficult for the BLM to protect the area. SLCA said infrastructure improvements, management alternatives and climber behavior changes are going to be essential to protect Joe’s Valley.
According to BLM field office manager Ahmed Mohsen, the BLM will put a plan in motion after the environmental assessment has been completed and open for public comment for 30 days. Mohsen said the BLM wants to build proper campsites, fire pits and parking areas in order to let visitors enjoy the land and the scenery without causing too much damage.
“Since Joe’s Valley does have such a great reputation around the world, we want to make sure people get what they’re expecting when they get here,” Mohsen said.
On Saturday, March 14, a conservation team will have the opportunity to show off their skills at an Adopt a Crag. They will create sustainable climbing areas by providing a “pilot” bouldering area improvement project in Joe’s Valley. This project will be the first, approved, of its kind on federally managed lands.
Long term planning for the sustainability of the area will continue to move forward and this bouldering area improvement project will pave the way.
According to Mohsen, the new campsites will be ready for campers and climbers alike mid-summer 2015.