A unique alliance between a land trust, three timber companies, the climbing community and the Forest Service has resulted in permanent protection of the beloved Castle Crags area in Northern California, a rock climbing destination and an important water source for the residents of California.
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Two square miles of land adjacent to the Castle Crags State Park and federal wilderness were acquired by the Wilderness Land Trust earlier this month by sale from Roseburg Forest Products. As a result of the acquisition, over 1,250 acres will be eventually transferred to the Forest Service for inclusion in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Funding for the transaction was provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, along with the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign and the Conservation Alliance.
Eagles and other raptors frequently soar by the Crags, which contain world-class climbing opportunities. In the forest surrounding the Crags, almost 1,000 acres of mature timber also now stand protected. The property is located south of Dunsmuir and Mount Shasta, just off Interstate 5, from which the Crags are clearly visible.
Little Castle Creek provides spawning habitat for trout and fishing opportunities and it flows to the Sacramento River, providing clean water throughout California via the Sacramento River Delta.
“Roseburg recognized there was a higher and better use for this land and was happy to make the sale. It maintains a long tradition of active community support for conservation and recreation efforts.” said Scott Folk, vice president of Resources at Roseburg.
“These parcels were a better fit with the public lands in the area,” said Arne Hultgren, resource manager with Roseburg.
The transaction culminated two years of collaboration between Roseburg and the trust. In addition, Sierra-Pacific Industries and Kimberly-Clark Corp. assisted in the disposition of legacy mineral and access issues.
Other partners critical to the success of the project were local climbers and businesses. The Crags contain over 20 challenging climbing routes as recently detailed in the Castle Crags section of “Mount Shasta Area Rock Climbing — A Climber’s Guide to Siskiyou County” by Grover Shipman.
“The land contains 360 acres of the Crags — dramatic rock outcrops with amazing views that also are part of local history — the Wintu Tribe fought and died to protect it and still come for spiritual healing and guidance and to collect plants for medicinal purposes,” said Aimee Rutledge, the Wilderness Land Trust’s California program manager.
“We are extremely gratified to protect this iconic land providing clean water, trout habitat and recreational access, and to enable the addition of this land to the Castle Crags Wilderness for future generations,” said Reid Haughey, president of the trust.
Ranging from the bottom of Little Castle Creek to the top of Castle Crags, the area has few developed trails, the primary one accessing Castle Dome. Local groups like the Mount Shasta Trail Association have proposed building an Around-the-Crags Trail at some time in the future. Views of both Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen abound from the Castle Crags Wilderness.
“The acquisition is a great example of a large-scale win-win for conservation, cultural resources, and recreation, including access to incredible wilderness climbing,” says Joe Sambataro, the Access Fund’s access director. “We are delighted to play a supporting role in assisting the trust.”
“We are proud to be a part of the effort to increase the protected acreage at Castle Crags, and to improve access to this special place,” said John Sterling, executive director of the Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor industry companies that work together to support conservation initiatives. “Our member companies benefit when outdoor recreation is more accessible.”