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John Moses interview questions:


John, thanks for agreeing to this interview. In addition to these questions, this is an opportunity for you to make any statements you wish - please jump in at any time. Also, if you have any questions for me personally, please ask them, and I will do my best to answer.

Be aware that I am not a spokesperson for any particular group such as the El Paso Climbers' Club - it would be best if you ask James Robertson for the "official" position of the EPCC. About half the questions are mine, the rest were submitted by visitors to Although I have edited the more rabid ones, be warned that many are still a bit harsh, and are perhaps not as tactfully phrased as one might desire. Most of the questions are tough, some are blunt and impolite. I can tell that some of the questions are not targeted personally at you, John, but instead express frustration with the TPWD in general. Some are not so much questions as statements, but I have included them anyway.

We are interested not just in the "official" TPWD position - we can glean that from other sources. Instead, we are very interested in how you, John Moses, think.

1.]Have there been any documented instances of the act of climbing damaging any rock art in Hueco Tanks?

2.] Do you think a trail can be made over pure rock terrain, which tramples little or no dirt or vegetation? (Much of Hueco is essentially a big rock dome, ya know)

3.] Clearly the relationship between climbers and the park has deteriorated over time. I'm more than willing to accept that some of the blame for this should be placed on climbers (chipping, not working with the park on trail management, filling in grinding holes below problems, climbing above rock art). But some of the blame needs to be accepted by the park management. If you could go back in time, with the advantage of hindsight, to the early days of Ranger Bob and the climbing world's discovery of Hueco -- what would you do differently?

4.] Why is it such a hassle to enter Hueco Tanks? Visitors have to check in every single day, fill out forms, and have a ranger personally stamp the pass. The system seems labor-intensive and no fun for both park guests and park employees. Other parks use a self pay system, a drive-up window, or an annual pass window sticker. Are there any plans to revise this system?

5.] Representatives of Hueco Tanks State Park and the Texas Historical Society (I'm not sure if that's their official name) have often referred to the "impact" cause by having so many visitors to the park. Most of Hueco Tanks is rock. The trails are often rock. There is no impact. No one mentions the awful eyesores of multiple RV hookups and concrete picnic platforms. Those are the impacts that need to be removed. These are the structures that cause Hueco Tanks State Park to resemble a 1960's New Mexico Highway Rest Stop. (Many) climbers would have helped to remove such things if given the chance.

6.] Why has HTSP refused climber's help, money and cooperation? Climbers have shown a desire and ability to reduce impacts when educated about them, make financial investments in the park and respect closures. Why are we constantly left out of the decision-making process?

7.] In the opinion of the current park management, what are the top three audiences for "use"of the park? Are climbers a constituency that is desired by park management?

8.] Many people are puzzled by the TPWD's rejection of the AF $100K grant offer. The rumor is that the TPWD hoped for Fed $, and therefore did not think that the AF $ would be needed. Do you know why it was rejected?

9.] Can you tell us why the Feds turned down the TPWD's request for funding for trail building?

10.] Because the TWPD was turned down by the Federal government, would the TPWD reconsider the AF's offer (if it is still an active option)?

11.] Would the TWPD's plan have changed if they had received the desired amount of money from the Feds?

12.] Has the TPWD considered restricting the access of the eyesore gas-guzzling RVs that (in the opinion of many) create the greatest damage/impact to our State and National Parks?

13.] What has happened on the revenue and budget side of the park since the new climbing regulations?

14.] Why is access to the park limited only to North Mountain? Wouldn't opening up the rest of the park spread the impact over a greater area?

15.] Many climbers think that the new restrictions are the result of pressure on Austin from certain former and current local Hueco staffers, yourself not included. Do you have any plans, now that you are the Super, to try to reverse or modify any of the restrictions that are now in place?

16.] Does climbing 20 feet away from rock art damage it any more than standing 3 feet away and gawking at it?

17.] Are there any circumstances where you think an individual human should be allowed unescorted access to non-North Mountain areas in the park? If no, then why does the rule not apply to the TPWD staff, politicians, and scientists also?

18.] Are commercial guides allowed to enter restricted areas unescorted, or must they be accompanied by at least one paying customer?

19.] It is my understanding that anyone who pays the fee for (and passes)the Commercial guide course, obtains the $500K in liability insurance and then pays the daily guide and user fees can go anywhere in the park. If so, why are these Commercial guides more worthy of trust than myself or other responsible visitors?

20.] How can we know that TPWD staff and other officially sanctioned personnel are not the ones responsible for the some of the vandalism? In other words, "Who will watch the watchers"?

21.] Should climbers and other visitors trust TPWD staff and other officials? Why should the same trust not be extended to others and myself?

22.] Does the mere fact of employment (or approved scientific purpose) by the State translate in to trustworthiness?

23.] Is it moral and ethical to punish or sanction someone for the actions of other persons, for example to achieve some lofty goal?

24.] Currently, volunteer guides who conduct climbing tours are not allowed to participate in the activity they are guiding, i.e. a volunteer climbing guide may not climb with the people he is guiding. Do you agree with this rule? If so, should that rule also be applied to bird watchers, hikers, and rock-art guides?

25.] Suppose I enlist a volunteer guide to guide me up Max Headroom or Pigs in Space. How can the guide do so without climbing?

26.] Visitors to Hueco are told that Hueco is 'church' from the point of view of various tribes. This implies that the TPWD officially recognizes the various forms of "Native American" religion as being valid religions. What are the criteria by which the TPWD measures the validity of a religion?

27.] Suppose I claim to believe in a god of Solitude and Freedom, and my god requires that I pray alone in the Round Room. Should my beliefs be honored?

28.] What has been accomplished by the restrictions? Has vandalism gone down? Littering? If so, why can't the entire park be reopened? If not, wouldn't this spread the littering/vandalism out over a larger area, thereby reducing impact?

29.] Has the TPWD considered protecting the rock art with acrylic, graffiti/bullet proof cases?

30.] The PURP has clearly had a devastating effect on Pete Zavala's business. Many climbers expressed the same sentiment with this question: "How does it feel to put Pete out of business?"