To: Craig Marshall  From:James C Crump 2-8-95   11:19am 

February 7,1995                         

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department       
4200 Smith School Road              
Austin, TX 78744             

Attn: Mr. Andrew Sansom
         Executive Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Re: Rock Climbing Surcharge, as per our conversations of the week of       12/19/94.

Mr. Sansom:

As of January 1, 1995, a daily climbing surcharge has been levied against climbers visiting Hueco Tanks State Historical Park and Lake Mineral Wells State Park. In regards to this issue I have been requested to represent Texas climbers and climbers nation-wide by the following clubs and organizations:

Alamo City Climbing Club, San Antonio TX, Mike Lewis, President
Central Texas Mountaineers, Austin TX, Rick Watson, President
El Paso Climbers Club. El Paso TX, Craig Marshall, President
Texas Mountaineers. Dallas TX, Denise Wilks, Chairwoman
Texas Mountain Raiders. Houston TX, Marc Rosenthal, President
The Access Fund
Central Texas Climbing Committee

The above listed entities have all agreed to support the following proposal, and have requested that I present this to Texas Parks and Wildlife. To properly present this proposal I would first like to list several pertinent points which relate to the context of this issue:

* The climbing community understands and accepts Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) requirement to increase revenues, and also each park*s need to fund maintenance.

* The climbing community and TPWD have developed a relationship and partnership which has become a model of park user - park manager partnerships and is recognized nationally. This partnership is documented through Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs) for management of climbing related issues. The three executed MOUs are:

MOU between TPWD and the Central Texas Climbing Committee, representing the Central Texas Mountaineers and the Alamo City Climbing Club, dated 8/1/93, renewed 10/1/94, for management of climbing issues at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.

MOU between TPWD and the El Paso Climbers Club dated 6/26/94, for management of climbing issues at Hueco Tanks State Historical Park.

MOU between TPWD and the Texas Climbing Coalition dated 11/1/90, for management of climbing issues at Lake Mineral Wells State Park.

* Climbers as a user group have been recognized by many TPWD officials as one of the best user groups in relation to park preservation, conservation, safety, volunteerism, and general support of TPWD's mission in our state.

* Texas climbing organizations, in conjunction with The Access Fund, a national alliance of climbers, have made donations of labor and funding to improve trails, reduce impact and add new facilities to Hueco Tanks and Enchanted Rock.

* The Alamo City Climbing Club and the El Paso Climbers Club have joined the Adopted a Highway program and have adopted the roadways leading to Enchanted Rock and Hueco Tanks, participating quarterly in litter clean-ups along these roadways.

* Volunteers from the Central Texas Mountaineers participated in TPWD's Expo '94. by staffing the rock climbing tower where almost 900 children were able to challenge themselves and experience the thrill of rock climbing.

* Climbing as a sport does not consume any renewable, or non-renewable resources, and has a minimal impact on staff and facilities.

* Climbers maintain, through their own funding and the MOU process, all climbing related maintenance and equipment at Hueco Tanks and Enchanted Rock.

* Climbers account for approximately 60,000 day-visits per year at Texas' three climbing parks.

* Climbing is recognized as one of the top 10 fastest growing outdoor activities. Visitation of Texas Parks by climbers has doubled in the last two years. Climbing in Texas is growing exponentially.

* Climbers come from a broad range of social-economic, age, and ethnic groups, and from all regions of Texas, the United States and internationally. Participation by women has grown to where they represent 40 of the climber population.

The climbing community also has an active interest in the improvement of existing park facilities as well as the addition of new park holdings which could significantly add to the limited resources currently available to Texas climbers. These include:

1. Establishment of a Hueco Tanks walk-in camping facility and adding a parking lot on the entrance road.

With the low price of land surrounding Hueco Tanks, a walk-in camping facility could be created with minimal cost. A parking lot on the entrance road would facilitate the handling of visitors and climbers through the Ranger Station and eliminate the need to open the front side of North Mountain's closed facilities, thus reducing current management problems.

2. Acquisition of properties, currently for sale, adjacent to the southern boundary of Enchanted Rock.

Enchanted Rock is experiencing such popularity that the park is full and closes as early as 11:00 a.m. on weekends. This southern addition to the park would double its land side, and provide a new southern entrance, additional parking, day use and camping facilities. Currently Enchanted Rock experiences almost 350,000 visits a year making it one of Texas' most popular parks.

3. Purchase of the Lower Pecos River Gorge

This new park would be a complimentary facility to Seminole Canyon State Park, and would aid significantly in protecting the rock art of the Lower Pecos as well as add a tremendous new climbing resource. Currently portions of this property are owned by the Rock Art Foundation. It is envisioned that a partnership of climbing organizations, the Rock Art Foundation and TPWD could bring about the purchase of this gorge and its dedication as a state park.

4. The construction of the McKinney Falls Rock Climbing Complex

This facility would be the Texas prototype of a world-class urban sport climbing facility. It is envisioned that several of these facilities could be built, serving Texas's major metropolitan areas, and each having a projected yearly visitorship of 50,000.

With all of these points and possibilities on the table, the climbing community would climbing surcharge issue and use it as an opportunity to create a new level of partnership with TPWD. Our proposal is simple in its two points:

1. Take 50% of the surcharge and dedicate it to fending maintenance and improvements in the park in which it was collected.

2. Take the other 50% and deposit it in an account with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation with the covenant that the fend will be dedicated to the benefit and expansion of climbing within the TPWD park system. With the above guarantees that the proceeds of the climbing surcharge will benefit the parks which climbers visit, and also lead to the acquisition of new climbing parks, the climbing community will support and willingly pay this surcharge. Additionally, we will request that this surcharge be levied at Enchanted Rock. The climbing organizations will actively educate their members about the benefits of this fee and individuals such as myself will seek to publish information concerning this agreement in all of our national climbing periodicals.

Without this or a similar approach to me climbing surcharge issue, our communities find that the levying of this fee to be discriminatory. The manner in which it was imposed, without consultation, was a violation of the covenants contained in the Memorandums of Understandings executed between TPWD and our organizations. It is most disheartening that an issue of this nature may foster a breach in the trust and partnership which has developed between TPWD and the climbing community. We can not accept being targeted as a revenue source for the general fund without benefit or accounting.

Please consider this proposal from your climbing constituents. I hope that the spirit and intent of this proposal will lead us away from what will rapidly become a very negative situation, and towards a strong, economically sound, and expanding partnership. Our current relationship has been heralded nationally as an example for all states to follow in resource management. It is my personal belief that this proposal will add to the legacy of TPWD's forward looking management of climbing issues.

Sincerely yours,

James Cutter Crump
2801 Rae Dell, Austin TX 78704,
Work, 512-483-0137,
Home, 512-448-4264
State-wide Coordinator of the Central Texas Mountaineers
Regional Coordinator of the Access Fund
Elected Member of the Central Texas Climbing Committee

Mr. Ron Holiday, TPWD                     
The Access Fund
Mr. Mike Herring, TPWD                   
Mr. Mike Lewis, ACCC
Mr. Delton Daugherty, TPWD                
Mr. Rick Watson, CTM
Mr. John Rochelle, TPWD                    
Mr. Craig Marshall, EPCC
Mr. Roger Rosenbaum, TPWD                 
Ms. Denise Wilks, TM
Mr. Sonny Solis, TPWD                    
Mr. Marc Rosenthal, TMR
Mr. Alex Mares, TPWD                     
Central Texas Climbing Committee
Mr. Steve Jones, TPWD