Peregrine Closures, 2023
The Carolina Climbers Coalition work closely with USFS and NC Wildlife Resource Commission biologists each year to ensure that peregrine falcon closures are accurate per eyrie sites, and help balance conservation of the species with reasonable access to climbing destinations. Thank you, climbers, for respecting these USFS closure zones and for helping protect this amazing species. How has this collaboration been beneficial to both climbers and peregrines? Here are a few examples:
- Biologists and CCC volunteers monitor eyrie sites to see if they are in use or if chicks have hatched. If they are not in use or if chicks have fledged, closures are lifted earlier than Aug 15. In the case of areas like Short Off South last year, the closure was lifted in February.
- This year, CCC has worked with NC Wildlife Resource Commission biologists to collect specimens from the Big Lost Cove eyrie and Looking Glass Rock eyrie to help biologists predict reasons for nest failure or success. This work equates to multiple days in the field and computer for multiple volunteers and professionals.
- The CCC-owned Laurel Knob has an active eyrie. We have worked to identify proper closures, with biologist input.
- The entire North Face of Cedar was slated to be closed, CCC worked with biologists to narrow down the zone. 20 routes are seasonally closed now as opposed to 100. CCC works with biologists to decipher a closure boundary that protects both the species and climbing in the vicinity.
- This year, there are not any climbing-related changes from previous years. This is largely in part to the peregrines maintaining their previous year's eyrie sites.
- View all closures for Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests on the USFS website here. Note: USFS has not updated the closure order yet for 2023 but the same closures remain.
- CCC and NC Wildlife collaboration has lead to reciprocity and trust that has helped other areas outside of NC/ USFS lands. Recreational climbers following the closures has also lead to reciprocity and trust. Thank you climbers! In 2021, we were able to share our expertise in peregrine falcon climbing management with SC Department of Natural Resources. We worked with their biologists to take Table Rock State Park, SC's Main Wall out of the seasonal closure order for South Carolina. This is South Carolina's most revered wall, and it is now open to climbers year-round instead of season closures. Without our work with NC Wildlife and USFS, the closure zone would surely have remained for Table Rock's Main Wall.
- We were able to open Rocky Fork State Park's Whitehouse Cliffs to climbing in 2019, and have since then worked with the TN State Park system to monitor the cliff for potential peregrine falcon activity. There is a peregrine falcon seen in the region, and we have monitored the cliff for the last three years, which has meant 4-5 visits per year during the peregrine falcon closure observation time of February to March. The observation period's goal has been to see if there is an eyrie site on the cliff. Peregrines are seen in the area but an eyrie has not been viewed at Whitehouse. This is typical for the species, as they likley use the cliff as a hunting zone but not for their eyrie. After monitoring for 3 years and not finding an eyrie, a closure is no longer enforced. This could change if a mating pair sets up an eyrie.
- Ongoing work with Mountain Project and guide book authors to ensure closures are listed accurately in beta sites.
- "In 2021 across western North Carolina, 15 sites were occupied by peregrine falcon pairs and seven successfully reproduced with a total of 12 offspring."- USFS
Additional closures outside of USFS lands:
- Table Rock State Park Feb 1- Aug 14: Climbing right (east) of the Walker Buttress, including the Water Groove Wall, are closed to climbing during this period. Table Rock's Main Wall is now open to climbing year-round!
- Laurel Knob Feb 1- Aug 14: Routes in the Dillard Canyon are closed to climbing during this period. All routes climber's right of Dillard Canyon are open year round.
- Rocky Fork State Park's Whitehouse Cliffs : this closure has been lifted. No eyrie is present and has not been for three years in a row.
Jan 15- Aug 15, 2023 Closures for USFS lands: