To: Carolina Ramos
Hueco Tanks State Historic Park
From: Stephen T. Crye
Member, The El Paso Climbers Club
Re: EPCC Analysis of New Hueco Rules
Thanks for this opportunity to provide feedback on the new system in effect at HuecoTanks.
Overall, the EPCC is very pleased with the "new" Hueco Tanks. Anyone who has
visited the park since November 25 will immediately notice that the park is cleaner, quieter, and much nicer to visit. Trash on the frontside and around Laguna Prieta has been dramatically reduced. Wildlife seems much tamer, and 99% of the people encountered at the park are now courteous, outdoors-loving types that go out of their way to treat the park with the respect that it deserves.
The EPCC is working with the non-local climbing community to correct some minor problems with tape litter and sneaking In to avoid the new fees.
Here is an analysis of some of the specifics of the new rules.
* Required TCP - an excellent rule. Sadly, the socio-economic reality is that the
vandalism was being caused by people who cannot afford to pay the $25.00 per year per user fee. This rule alone has resulted in the greatest improvement in Hueco conservation.
* Restricted vehicular access - this is one of the best new rules. Whereas the frontside used to be noisy and crowded with thoughtless picnickers, It is now a peaceful place to reflect on the beauty of the west side cliffs and enjoy the rock. We never realized just how much noise was generated by cars driving on the roads until the cars were gone. Also. having to hike into the park is helping our aerobic conditioning!
* Back-country permits - Filling them out is a minor annoyance, but worth it for the privilege of climbing at Hueco. For the back-country permit system to be truly effective, there needs to be more foot patrols by park rangers where the rangers challenge the visitors to present a back-country permit.
* Camping in designated sites only. The EPCC fully backs this rule. Hueco is too
small to allow camping in the "backcountry".
* No solid fuel fires - YES! We love this rule. There used to be a God-awful stench from lighter fluid and burned meat on the frontside. The prevailing winds carried this odor up the rock faces into our lungs.
* Establishment of "Friends of Hueco" and other groups. The EPCC welcomes all the help that Hueco Tanks can get. Because there are only about 40 local climbers, but a large number of local nature lovers, it makes sense to expand the volunteer base.
The EPCC will work closely with Friends of Hueco to make certain that our mutual interests in Hueco are represented.
*Hours of operation from 8 am to Sunset. This is the only rule that the EPCC would like to see modified. One of the most beautiful climbing experiences at Hueco is watching the sunset from the top of the 'Tanks after a difficult and challenging climb. With the sunset rule in place, we have to rush get down to avoid being locked in. We would like to propose a modification that we feel will not impact on your operating budget. The EPCC realizes that Hueco Tanks is understaffed, and that the number of visitors entering the park in the late afternoon is small, making it hard to justify keeping the park open later than sunset. Since there are two locks on the gate, and only one of them needs to be opened to exit the park, consider the following:
1.] Close the park to new entrants every day at 6:00pm. but allow people already in the park to exit up until 9:00pm.
2.] During the day, provide each user with the "daily" combination to one of the locks.
3.] Each evening at 9:00pm (or a time of your choosing) a ranger can go to the gate and reset the "daily" lock combination. The other lock's combination can be given to campers for their use.
This is just one idea. The EPCC would like to work out any viable system that lets users stay just a bit later. The desert is so beautiful at sunset and during twilight – It would be shame if we can't figure out a way to make this time period available to users of the park.
Thanks for doing a great job with little funds & manpower!
Copy : Fred Nakovic, President of El Paso Climbers' Club