6900 HUECO TANKS RD. # 1 ▪ EL PASO, TX 79938 ▪ FAX 915-857-3628
HUECO TANKS STATE HISTORIC SITE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 22, 2007
Media Contact: Wanda Olszewski, (915) 857-1135
“Mushroom Boulder” Climbing Area Closed
EL PASO, Texas – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department implements a closure, to protect archeology at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site’s “Mushroom Boulder”
The north face of Hueco Tanks State Historic Site’s “Mushroom Boulder” is closed to all activities, as of December 22. Protection of archeology necessitated the closure. Signs are in place to identify the sensitive area, and rangers are available to answer questions.
Recently, archeology staff from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Cultural Resources Program performed an assessment of several areas at Hueco Tanks SHS. The areas were checked for signs of risk to archeological deposits, such as loss of vegetation, erosion or other changes that had occurred over time. Photographs of sites were compared with photographs taken of the same areas in previous years.
Although most of the areas checked were in good condition, changes were noted at “Mushroom Boulder,” a popular climbing spot in Hueco Tanks’ self-guided area. The boulder lies within one of Hueco Tanks State Historic Site’s archeological localities. The area preserves significant cultural deposits dating to prehistoric times. As is true in many localities, the most significant cultural deposits are those protected by overhangs.
During monitoring, it was found that soils beneath the overhang on “Mushroom Boulder’s” northern face had been loosened and eroded. As a consequence, cultural deposits were no longer protected by surrounding sediments and there were indications that these deposits had been disturbed. This impact was found in the area where foot traffic and crash pad placement were concentrated, due to the overhang’s popularity as a bouldering area. TPWD’s archeologist recommended closing the area to foot traffic.
Preservation of Hueco Tanks State Historic Site’s cultural and natural features is the site’s primary mission. Permanent closure of “Mushroom Boulder’s” north face to climbing activities was required, to meet this mission.
The self-guided area at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site holds a wide variety of bouldering areas, and no additional closures are planned at this time. Staff of TPWD’s Cultural Resources Program will discuss the “Mushroom Boulder” closure at a January 5th presentation, hosted by the Hueco Rock Ranch (a campground and guide service located near Hueco Tanks SHS). Tim Roberts, Regional Cultural Resources Coordinator and Margaret Howard, Archeologist/Survey Team Leader, will present. For information, call Hueco Tanks State Historic Site at (915) 857-1135.