One hundred and one years ago, when William Rogers
and Willard Ripley were the first climbers to top Wyoming's Devils
Tower, they also started a controversy. In the following decades
the tower became a climbing mecca. Yet to some Native Americans it
has always been a sacred place. To try to satisfy both interests,
the Park Service drafted a climbing management plan in cooperation
with Native Americans, climbers, environmentalists and a local
elected official. The agency's preferred alternative prohibits
climbers from drilling new protective bolts into the cliffs, but
allows replacement of old bolts. It also closes the tower to
climbers on a voluntary basis in June, when Native Americans
perform ceremonies. This suggestion has not pleased either side.
Elaine Quiver, a member of the Gray Eagle Society, says tribal
elders generally want a total ban on climbing, according to the
Indian Country News. Carl Coy, member of the Gillette Climbing Club
and the working group, says climbers won't be affected much by the
closure, but they might not respect it either. Climbers and Native
Americans each make up about 1 percent of the monument's 400,000
annual visitors. For a copy of Climbing Management Plan and
Environmental Assessment, call 307/467-5283. Comments, due by Oct.
31, go to: P.O. Box 8, Devils Tower, WY 82714-0008.