Highline Access in Smith Rock State Park

Falcon Seasonal Closures & Smith Rock Access

SEASONAL CLOSURES:

Gold/Bald Eagle Roosting
As of February 17, 2017, bald and golden eagle pairs are here to roost. While hiking trails remain open, some campsites and climbing route closures will go into effect from February 17 to August 1, 2017 to give them a little privacy. For more information, visit the Smith Rock Closures.

Canyon Trail and Campground (Bivy) areas:
The bald eagle nest is located near posted signs along the Canyon Trail. Park managers are asking for those using the trail to please:
*KEEP NOISE TO A MINIMUM
*DO NOT LOITER & STAY ON TRAIL
*TRAVEL IN GROUPS OF 4 OR LESS

This habitat closure area will also effect tent camping areas along the rim in the Bivouac. As of 2/12/17 signs warning people of the sensitive area have been posted in the park.

Prairie Falcon Nesting Season

“Skylight” and “Fight or Flight”(a.k.a. “Money Talks”) are closed temporarily. For more information, visit the Smith Rock Closures.
As of March 17, 2017, the prairie falcons have returned as well and nesting closures for the following areas are in effect until June 30, 2017, or until 4 days after fledging (when birds leave the nest): First Kiss area & Picnic Lunch Wall have closures.
(from Smith Rock website)


Gino Traboulsi at Smith Rock

As the crown jewel of highlining within the Pacific Northwest, Smith Rock State Park has a lot to offer, with dozens of established highlines, fantastic accessibility, stunning scenery, and a vibrant and highly active community regularly found pushing their limits within the park.

Many highliners also find welcoming locals, diverse ecology, friendly park rangers, and an expansive variety of outdoor recreation activities of a world class character. Not to mention a rich history of establishment and pioneering which traces back to the dawning age of our sport in the 1980s. If there was ever a class of destinations worth protecting for the future generations — Smith Rock is among its greatest.

Among all the perks, it is presently notable that times have changed a bit since the Smith Rock highlining free-for-all of years past. Currently, highlining remains allowed within Smith Rock State Park and the adjacent BLM land. Yet, newer State Park regulations and an ever present balance of concerns between different user groups require our mindful attention as practitioners.

In response to these growing concerns and through community meetings and open dialog Oregon Slackline Access (OSA) was founded and is working to secure the future of highlining within the region. We are proud to relate that continuing discussions with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is progressing in a positive way.

Below we offer a summary of the official regulations and best practice guidelines paired with a summary & projected future of ongoing Oregon access work.


Current State Park Regulations

We ask that all slackliners respect State Park regulations and participate mindfully within the park. Many eyes are on highlining at Smith lately and our choices may either promote or damage the future of highlines within Smith Rock. Following is a summary of these regulations interspersed with the park’s rationale behind them and some additional notes.

  • No Slacklines within the ‘Bivy’ Campground Tent or Cooking area nor other picnic areas. These are perceived as an obstruction to the flow of traffic and the park has received complaints. (You may still rig anything up to 400’+ in the bivy longline field)
  • No Slacklines/Highlines over established trails, pathways, roadways, the Crooked River, and climbers access-routes. This regulation was mostly created as an attempt to curb potential highliner induced rockfall hazards. Rivers however are a special case as they are seen as a flight path for endangered falcons and eagles.
  • Equipment for highlines and rope swings left unattended overnight without written permission from the park manager is prohibited. This builds upon day use and abandoned property regulations. There is an exception for gear to be stashed in a “discrete manner” overnight. Though this exception does not include rigged  “set-up” highlines.
  • There exists a temporary moratorium on new highline development. No new bolts may be placed pending the completion of studies concerning the flight patterns of certain species of endangered birds within the park. Government biologists have expressed concerns that endangered falcons and eagles may be impacted by rigged lines. Studies to assess the level of impact are ongoing.
  • Respect areas subject to seasonal raptor closures. These closures apply to nesting areas of endangered bird species so they may hatch and rear their young without harm of human interference. Please check with the park for the most up-to-date information concerning these areas. Note: If a large bird aggressively screeches at and flies around your group then you are too close to it’s nest and should break down and fall back.

Additional Best Practices:

  • Please follow all LNT principles as closely as possible at all times.
  • There are pit toilets by the bridge and at the base of the Morning Glory wall. All solid human waste must be packed out as to preserve the delicate desert environment.
  • Please practice kindness and respect towards all other park users. (e.g. climbers & hikers)
  • Both State Park officials and Oregon Slackline Access have received many complaints about noise levels from highliners. As sound carries and echoes quite far and wide from the high points at Smith, please keep any bursts of yelling at a minimum.
  • Please be mindful of rockfall at all times. Climbers and hikers are very often below highlines.

 

Permanently Closed Lines:

  • Walking with Woodstock( Asterisks pass)
  • Phoenix Line (Phoenix Buttress)
  • Triphemerality SpaceLine (Below Monument Area)
  • Lines crossing the Lower Gorge that contact State Park land. (BLM + private anchored lines exist)

 

Seasonal Closures:

Seasonal Closures and other park notices are posted on the State Park’s official website.

 

The Future of Access & Regulation

Thanks to improved stewardship and conduct, slackliner assisted park cleanups, and OSA/Park meetings, there is a lot of hope for the future of highlining at Smith Rock. It’s also worth tipping our hats to the climbing community in their trailblazing efforts towards adventure sport access within Smith. Historic efforts by the climbing community have helped to establish acceptance towards both gear stashes and bolt presence. Years of effort by climbers and recently highliners have also helped to establish access trails all over the park.

Looking to the future, there are two primary fronts for highline access. First, Oregon State Parks is in the process of authoring a new management “Master Plan” for Smith Rock. Generally speaking, this document will guide park policy within the park for the next 20 years. Fortunately, OSA is on an advisory board for this process and will represent Highliner interests to State Parks as needed in this process. The authorship of the new Master Plan is expected to take at least a year to complete.

Secondly and promising faster results OSA has submitted a proposal for consecutive-day highline rigging which, if accepted, will take affect far sooner than the new Master Plan. As such, our primary winter focus has been on this document and it’s surrounding relationships.

All updates will be shared to our local facebook group and through conservation and advocacy partners such as Slackline.us.

 

How Can You Help?

First, please follow all current regulations and best practices within the park. Second, we’re always open to new ideas about how to best help the park receive slackliners well and always advocate for our own needs. If you have any good ones, send us a message! Lastly, please consider donating to Slackline.US to protect the future of highlining in all of our treasured spaces.

Thank you and Happy Slacking!
Mark Warren of Oregon Slackline Access

(Updated March 10, 2017)

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