Last Updated on January 15, 2020 3:13 pm
Asheville, NC, January 14, 2020 – Each year between January 15 and August 15, the U.S. Forest Service closes several rock faces in western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare peregrine falcons that nest there. Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
Activities that are prohibited to reduce disturbance to nesting and fledgling falcons includes rock climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, bouldering, hang gliding, and slacklining. Drone use on the rock faces themselves and flying drones in the vicinity of the rock faces and within posted areas is also prohibited. Overnight camping within posted areas is not allowed. Through-hiking on designated trails is permitted within the posted boundaries but hikers should not approach the rock faces listed in the table below.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) monitors nesting sites with the help of volunteers, including the Carolina Climbers Coalition. In 2019 across western North Carolina, 12 sites were occupied by peregrine falcon pairs and 7 successfully reproduced with a total of 13 offspring. Three additional sites were occupied by a single, unpaired bird. NCWRC staff found a pair nesting in the far north end of Shortoff Mountain, in an unclimbed area that lies north of False Paradise. This may be the same pair that nested at “Shortoff South” and NCWRC biologists will assess both sites this year.
Avoid activities at the rock cliffs in the following areas when they are posted closed:
|Site Name||Area Closed||Ranger District|
|Buzzard's Roost||All climbing routes are closed. No camping or foot traffic above the cliff.||Appalachian Ranger District|
|Whiterock Cliff||All climbing routes are closed.||Appalachian Ranger District|
|Shortoff Mountain South (Linville Gorge)||All climbing routes between and including C.O. and Paradigm Shift are closed.||Grandfather Ranger District|
|Shortoff Mountain North (Linville Gorge)||This is the unclimbed cliff that lies north of False Paradise. All climbing routes, cliff rim, and campsites within the red band marked on the map are closed to entry. No camping or foot traffic above or below the cliff in this section.||Grandfather Ranger District|
|Bynum Bluff (Linville Gorge)||All climbing routes are closed.||Grandfather Ranger District|
|NC Wall, Apricot Buttress, the Camel (Linville Gorge)||On NC Wall, all climbing routes between and including Tightrope and Bumblebee Buttress are closed. Apricot Buttress and the Camel are closed.||Grandfather Ranger District|
|Big Lost Cove Cliffs||All climbing routes are closed.||Grandfather Ranger District|
|Pickens Nose (East Face)||All climbing routes on the East Face are closed.||Nantahala Ranger District|
|Whiteside Mountain||All climbing routes between and including Southwest Arete and Mainline are closed.||Nantahala Ranger District|
|Victory Wall||All climbing routes are closed. No camping or foot traffic above or below cliff face.||Pisgah Ranger District|
|Looking Glass Rock (North Face)||All climbing routes to the right (as seen from the base of the rock) of Glass Menagerie and to the left of and including Twisted Laurel on the North Face of Looking Glass Rock are closed. No camping or foot traffic below the cliff in this section.||Pisgah Ranger District|
|North Cedar Rock (Wall of Northern Aggression)||All climbing routes between and including Groove Thang and Baynes Corner on the Wall of Northern Aggression are closed. No camping or foot traffic below the cliff in this section.||Pisgah Ranger District|
For more information on peregrine falcons see https://www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/Species/Birds/Peregrine-Falcon#28741685-overview.