Public Land

Rock climbing, ice climbing, bouldering and/or mountaineering are legitimate and longstanding uses of public lands in many countries. Unfortunately, not all land managers are aware of what climbing is about – climbing uses, risks, needs, and impacts – or the cooperative relationship that can exist between them and climbers. In Brazil, for example, tight budget and limited resources were used as arguments to close the access to climbing areas. Liability is also another excuse for posing restrictions and closing climbing areas in public lands and as a consequence some parks require climbers and other users to hire a guide, restricting their freedom and experience.

A Memoranda of Understanding (MU) is an useful tool that can be signed between the LAO and the Public Land Manager. A MU is a written non-binding contract-like document that frames a cooperative relationship between two or more parties. A MU can be very broad or very specific and it should describe each party’s responsibilities, expectations, interest, and goals.

It is always best to think long-term when trying to decide whether or not to contact the land manager. Most public agencies will eventually find out if climbing exists on the lands they manage, therefore it is a matter of how and when they will find out. Approaching the agency and/or Land Managers and explaining what climbing is about is a good way to start an effective and collaborative relationship with them and show the organization of the climbing community and its commitment to safe climbing and conservation.

The following resources will help you identify and address potential areas of concerns that a land manager might raise and provide you with a process for approaching land managers about the existence of a climbing area.

From the Access Fund (in English):
A Guide to Climbing on Public Lands: Approaching Land Managers & Public Officials
How Memoranda of Understanding Can Assist Climbing Activists

From Acesso às Montanhas, FEMERJ (in Portuguese):
Termo de Cooperação entre o INEA e a FEMERJ – MOU between the State Environmental Agency and FEMERJ, the Climbing Federation of Rio de Janeiro
Decreto de Uso Público em Unidades de Conservação Estaduais – A State of Rio de Janeiro Decree establishing guidelines and parameters for State Parks and excluding the mandatory guide hiring.
Portaria excluindo Guias Obrigatórios – A document that states that one can visit Brazilian’s Protected Areas (e.g National Parks) without the requirement to hire a guide.