Washington Climbers Coalition P.O. Box 77315, Seattle, Washington 98177

2012 Falcon Closure at Deception Wall, North Bend

Working with land managers: We are finding wildlife officials incresingly willing to accommodate climbing activity through making adjustments to closure areas and monitoring nesting sites to assure that nesting closures correspond more closely to the birds' actual needs. This has come about as a result of many years' cooperation between climbers and land managers. The 2012 closure at Deception Wall is a prime example.


Deception Wall handbill. Click on the image for PDF file copy.

Deception Wall, at Exit 38 near North Bend, Washington, may be subnect to closure for Spring 2013 but, as of April 14, 2013, there has been no observation of an active nest on the cliff this season. If closed, the closure would last through approximately June 30, 2013.

Species of Concern:
Peregrine Falcons were nearly extinct due to widespread use of DDT, which was banned in 1972. The population has been in recovery ever since but, although the species was officially delisted from the Federal listing of endangered species in 1999, Peregrine Falcons remain a "species of concern" in Washington.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with Federal wildlife officials, work with land managers in Washington to manage areas with nesting sites with an eye towand protecting those nesting sites. Nesting closures are imposed because Peregrine Falcons, although capable of adapting to urban nesting locations such as rooftops in downtown Seattle or highway bridges in Portland, are highly territorial. They learn to recognize freeway traffic as background noise but they cannot tolerate climber intrusion into the nesting area. This is not an exact science and individual birds' level of tolerance differ.

In some locations these nesting closures have been broader than necessary in terms of actually protecting the birds but, for management reasons, it may be easier to close an entire area so that they can monitor compliance by simply watching for cars than having to actually patrol the cliffs. In other areas these closures are being more narrowly drawn so as to meet the needs of the birds while also allowing recreational access nearby.

The closures have been successful. Climbers have been cooperating and, while the nests often fail for other reasons, Peregrine Falcons have successfully raised their chicks in popular climbing areas at Index, Leavenworth, Mt. Erie, Tieton and elsewhere most years out of the last ten. With the exception of Beacon Rock, where nearly all of the routes are closed in the Spring, the closures have generally been drawn so as to allow continued access to most climbs in a given area.

Peregrine Management Efforts at North Bend:
The biologist at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that they have been aware that Peregrines were nesting in the vicinity of Deception Wall for at least a couple of years but he does not think they previously nested on this actual cliff. They are monitoring the nest site and they are hopeful that climbers will cooperate with any closure efforts so that broader closures will not be needed. With the railroad bed below the wall being part of Ollallie State Park, Washington State Parks will endure the burden of administrative expenses associated with this program.

Cooperative Efforts:
Over the years, climbers and land managers have developed an increasingly cooperative relationship. The 2012 closure at Deception Wall occurred because climbers reported their encounters with the birds who had taken up residence there that spring. The 2012 closure area boundaries were redrawn at the request of the Washington Climbers Coalition and they were redrawn with the specific intent to allow continued climbing on other nearby cliffs where climber activity would pose no threat to the birds.

This kind of cooperative relationship has resulted in many closures being narrowly tailored to meet the actual needs of birds observed to be nesting. At Mount Eerie, Leavenworth and elsewhere closure areas have been adjusted to allow climbing nearby and closures have been lifted earlier than originally projected when wildlife officials determined that nesting activities were concluded for the season.

The Washington Climbers Coalition urges climbers to cooperate with this and other nesting closures. The birds appreciate it and our ongoing access to these cliffs depends on it.

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