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The US Forest Service just secured an additional 82 acres at Sam’s Throne in Northwest Arkansas, which will be added to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. This acquisition protects approximately 1,500 feet of cliff line, including parts of Northern Exposure and Outback climbing areas.
Arkansas Climbers Coalition (ARCC) and Access Fund have worked alongside Big Piney Ranger District over the last decade to improve climbing access trails and help fund parking, toilet, camping, and signage improvements at the popular and historic Sam’s Throne climbing area, which features hundreds of quality sandstone trad and sport climbs.
While climbers historically frequented the cliffs on this land, it was privately owned and public access was never secure. However, it was surrounded by National Forest land, and the Forest Services was able to purchase the property with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program. Local climbers from ARCC helped the Forest Service with mapping support to enable the acquisition.
The LWCF is a federal funding program that allocates fees from oil and gas towards the acquisition of critical lands for open space and recreation purposes. Without the LWCF, new logging roads could be cut through old growth, recreational access closed off, and viewscapes important to the tourism economy compromised. The LWCF remains an important program to help protect climbing areas and other recreational resources. A few climbing areas protected through LWCF include Palisades Park in Alabama, Bozeman Pass in Montana, and Castle Crags in California. LWCF funding for Rumney’s Final Frontier in New Hampshire is pending.
We thank the Big Piney Ranger District for their leadership in protecting this valuable climbing resource.