MONTICELLO — All Indian Creek climbing walls are open again after some were closed for about six months to allow raptors, such as eagles or falcons, space to nest in the area, federal land management officials said Tuesday.
In February, Bureau of Land Management officials asked climbers to avoid climbing any routes in the Indian Creek climbing area northwest of Monticello. While it is a popular climbing area, it’s also where peregrine falcons, eagles and other raptors historically nest. The closure allowed the agency’s wildlife biologists to monitor active nests throughout the birds’ egg incubation and post-hatching periods.
Some of the climbing areas were OK'd for climbing throughout the six months because biologists were able to confirm there were no active nests on those routes.
In a statement, BLM Canyon Country spokeswoman Lisa Bryant said cooperative efforts from recreationists, public land managers, biologists, ranchers/farmers and others, contributed to peregrine falcons being removed from the endangered species list 20 years ago. She said populations continue to soar by following the same tactics two decades later.
“Thanks to these continued cooperative efforts, falcon, eagle, and hawk populations continue to rebound and raptors often grace the cliffs and skies of southeastern Utah,” she said.
It’s not uncommon for rock climbing routes to be closed for nesting raptors. In 2015, several rock climbing routes were closed in Arches National Park for the same reason.
“Even when climbers do not have direct contact with eggs, young or adults, behavior such as shouting and other noises are disturbing enough to cause a parent bird to abandon its nest,” National Park Service officials wrote on the agency’s website.
The Indian Creek climbing area includes dozens of popular rock climbing routes. According to Mountain Project, the area is full of Wingate sandstone cliffs. It adds that about 95% of the routes are traditional climbing routes.