I first met Wolfgang Schuster when he brought his family to Zion for a canyoneering course in 2007. An ex-fighter pilot with laser focus and a wry humor, Wolf calls it like he sees it and loves to get straight to the point. Wolf quickly became hooked on canyons, and over the years, we have gotten together for some great canyoneering trips. This last winter, Wolf stunned me by sticking his neck out and leading the charge in establishing a new not-for-profit canyoneering organization, American Canyoneers, dedicated to improving access problems and relationships between land managers and the public in the canyoneering world. Wolf and a cadre of other dedicated volunteers have impressed me with their professional approach to setting up the organization, outlining their mission, gaining 501c3 status, and creating a board representing a wide swath of the canyoneering community. Kudos to everyone involved.
Taking a professional approach to founding American Canyoneers also meant it took some time, so AC was waited until now to formally organize a membership drive. The time has come, however, so please take a moment to look into the organization. If the “ACES” mission fits with your own, please consider joining to help play a role in evolving this new and promising group.
Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Wolf!
Canyoneering is experiencing rapid growth in the United States. With it, the effects of increased demands and impacts on canyon resources are providing glimpses of what the future of canyoneering could be like, including limitations on access.
Some of the areas currently regulated or closed include:
• Deer Creek, a popular gem of the Grand Canyon, has been closed to canyoneering.
• Many of the canyons on the Navajo nation are closed or require a permit and/or a guide.
• Canyons on Apache Tribal Lands require a permit and/or a guide.
• Zion National Park has closed access to several canyons, some due to sensitive resources and private land access issues. Any technical canyoneering requires purchase of a permit.
• Arches National Park is currently developing a Climbing and Canyoneering Management Plan. Canyoneering in the Fiery Furnace requires a permit.
• Snow Canyon State Park has two established routes. One has seasonal closures for falcon nesting, and both require that canyoneers attain a permit.
• Upon learning a canyoneering route had been established in 2011, Goblin Valley State Park immediately responded by closing the resource until they could establish their regulatory system for canyoneering. The resourse is now open, but requires a permit.
Just a few areas of concern for potential future closures include:
• Death Valley is considering regulating canyoneering access by using a permit system similar to that of Zion National Park. This could pose serious problems for canyoneers due to logistical issues related to long canyon days, great distances of canyons from the visitor center, and lack of internet (or even cell phone) access throughout most of the park.
• Grand Canyon is in the process of finalizing regulations for canyoneering, which is complicated by logistical challenges, including land and river travel limitations.
* Zion/BLM: Birch Hollow canyon is growing in popularity and a permit may be required for descent in the future.
Many problems related to increased demands and impact can be prevented, mitigated, or overcome. Communication and cooperation among the canyoneering community, and the people and agencies that manage the resources we cherish, will be fundamental to protecting canyoneering resources for use, enjoyment, and environmental quality. The mission of the American Canyoneers is to facilitate this process by working for ACES: Access, Communication, Education, and Safety.
We need your help! Join the American Canyoneers in our work on ACES. Become a founding member, and help us start this important movement for just $5.00 for your first year, or $25 for your first two years’ membership. You’ll receive voting privileges, as well as the knowledge you are supporting future canyoneering access, plus more benefits to come. Join by June 23 to be eligible to vote on the first board of directors (anyone who has already donated is already a member).
Ready to became a member? The best way to become a member is to join via the PayPal portal on Membership Page.
Thanks for your support!
American Canyoneers Interim Board of Directors