Over the winter 2004-2005, rockslides damaged the Clear Creek road (FS 2050) in three locations. Citing a budget crisis, the Forest Serviced announced that the road was not a high enough priority to justify undertaking repairs. They blockaded the road.
In response, climbers embarked on a letter writing and telephone campaign. The Forest Service reversed course and reopened the road.
Even with the repairs that were completed this year, we are gradually losing access in Darrington due to a lack of maintenance. In about 1999, the Forest Service completely stopped maintaining the last two miles of road leading to Dreamer, which was formerly the most popular rock climb in this area, about five or six years ago. Despite volunteer efforts to maintain the road, trees are growing in the roadbed and increasing water damage each winter has created a situation where this stretch of road is no longer passable by some cars and anybody who cares about their paint job will certainly not drive it.
It is not too late to write the Darrington ranger station and two of Washington’s Congressman: Rick Larsen, representative in the District that includes Darrington, and Jay Inslee, member of the House Committee on Resources. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts to maintain recreational access and view activities like rock climbing as appropriate uses of public lands. We can and should be working hand in hand with environmental groups as well as government agencies to address access and environmental issues and promote balanced management of our public lands.
2016 update: Susan DelBene is the current representative of the District including Darrington. Congresswoman DelBene supports outdoor recreation and she even turned out for a volunteer trail project near Darrington in 2014. Meanwhile, the road remains open and the Washington Climbers Coalition has been raising funds to help with some needed repairs. Double meanwhile, there are plans for a pilot project to generate funds for additional work which will protect habitat and help make the road more sustainable. This effort is known as the “Darrington Collaborative.”