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Auburn Quarry reopens to climbers today

Area closed since 2003
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Rock climbers are again permitted to scale the sheer cliffs of the Auburn Quarry under a special use permit obtained by a climbing advocacy group.

The Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento, or CRAGS, has been working on regaining access to the Cave Valley Climbing Area, or the Auburn Quarry, for around four years.

The Auburn Quarry has been closed since 2003 and Ellen Trescott, executive director of CRAGS, was excited for Saturday when she will be out at the quarry with other volunteers.

"I think the park has a lot of visitors and I hope they understand the scope of the activities that are there. I think this agreement is a good balance for us as we maintain the climbing area to make sure the impacts are lessened," Trescott said.

CRAGS volunteers will maintain the small bathroom and garbage facilities at the Auburn Quarry, which is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as holidays.

Mike Lynch, superintendent with the Auburn State Recreation Area, said getting the special use permit cleared through all parties involved stalled momentarily until the Bureau of Reclamation sent a letter of concurrence this week. The bureau owns the Auburn Quarry land, but the state park service manages it.

"Essentially, even though we're alive we have no more money than we ever had, so for new uses they have to have their own revenue source," Lynch said.

CRAGS raised more than $9,000 through donations to fund access to the Auburn Quarry. Trescott said getting the money together to maintain the area was the easy part. The hard part fell on waiting for a response and for the agreement to be finalized.

"Navigating the management structure of the park, because it is owned by the federal government and managed by the state, it's kind of a complex structure out there, so that was the hardest part," Trescott said. "But overcoming the presumptions that rock climbing is dangerous or that climbers are somehow different from other recreationists has been one of the hardest parts, too."

Lynch said the next year will be somewhat of a trial for the Auburn Quarry area. The Auburn State Recreation Area is set to develop its general plan next year and Lynch said when that happens if the climbing access in the quarry has been positive, rock climbing will find a place in the park's general plan.

Trescott said reopening the quarry to climbers would not have been possible without the state park and without Lynch. She also said she planned on being there on Saturday to make sure the area is safe and to celebrate its reopening with a barbeque at Sierra Outdoor Center at 440 Lincoln Way in Auburn.

"We're so happy and everyone is delighted. It has been a huge effort and CRAGS is grateful to the state park for working with us. The current leadership has been helpful and encouraging through this whole process," Trescott said.

Though the quarry is officially reopened today, Rob Trelford, volunteer coordinator with CRAGS, was making plans Thursday to head there for some climbing during the weekend and also take some safety precautions while he's there.

"We'll check out all of the loose rock possibilities and scour the area from a safety standpoint before we go and do a whole lot of recreating," Trelford said.

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.