The Forest Service has plans to install up to two permanent toilets in the Buttermilks (Bishop, CA) and the Access Fund and other local climbers are requesting your input! Currently the Forest Service is considering up to two locations: first, by the Birthday Boulders and secondly, if needed, by the less intrusive Borrow Pit. We need your help – the Borrow Pit is the preferred location by many local climbers and the Access Fund, but the Forest Service has plans to construct the toilet at the Birthday Boulders first, and only at the Borrow Pit if needed.
Please read the following article posted by the Access Fund as well as this article by local Bishop boulderer, Wills Young. Then use the Access Funds easy letter writing tool to send in your comments!
Comments are needed by this Saturday, July 16th!
Buttermilks Toilet Installation – Your Comments Needed
Comments Needed by July 16 2011.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is seeking comments on its proposal to construct up to two permanent toilets near the Buttermilk climbing area. The proposal only provides two possible locations for the toilets: Location #1: the Birthday Boulders and Location #2: the Borrow Pit.
The proposal has the first toilet being installed at location #1 the Birthday Boulders in late summer or early fall 2011. The second proposed location is at the Borrow Pit, and a toilet will only be “installed if needed in the future.”
The Access Fund, in accord with the local climbing community, believes that location #2 the Borrow Pit is the preferred option for installing the first toilet, and that location #1 the Birthday Boulders is a poor choice for constructing a permanent toilet.
Installing a permanent toilet at Location #1 the Birthday Boulders presents a litany of potential issues:
Odor Issues: The prevailing winds (west to east) will likely infuse the Buttermilks, especially the Birthday Boulders, with the stench of human feces. This problem would be particularly acute when temperatures are high.
Visual Issues: The Buttermilks’ beauty draws climbers, hikers, skiers, mountaineers, photographers and outdoor enthusiasts of all types. The Birthday Boulders sit high on a plain and any toilet constructed there would be visible from almost every perspective, thereby reducing the pristine nature of the area. The toilet would not be near the main Buttermilk Road thus requiring the addition of signage to maximize the toilet’s utility.
Access Issues: Currently, the area is almost exclusively used as climber parking. Even without the toilet, the area is too small to accommodate climber traffic during peak usage. Adding a toilet to the area would increase congestion and potentially lead to more resource damage. Further, during the winter snow can sometimes limit access to the area.
Camping Issues: As the proposal recognizes, “dispersed camping” is already an issue impacting the Buttermilks generally and the Birthday Boulders specifically. Installing a toilet would encourage more camping in the area thus increasing the odor, visual and access issues.
Installing the first toilet at location #2 the Borrow Pit avoids most, if not all, the issues related to placing the toilet at the Birthday Boulders, while addressing the need to protect resource values and address health and safety concerns associated with sanitation issues.
The Borrow Pit sits to the east of the Buttermilks, and the prevailing wind will often push the odors away from the boulders. As a heavily travelled site, installing a toilet will not significantly alter the character of the area, and it will be less affected by increased camping. In addition, because it is situated next to the road, the Borrow Pit is better suited to handle a toilet, and maximizes the toilet’s utility.
Your comments are needed to show the US Forest Service that there is a strong preference within the climbing community to revise the plan, and change the location of the first toilet to the Borrow Pit.
You can read the proposal here.
Open to public comment until July 16.
Act now by using the letter-writing tool to urge the USFS to change the location of the toilet at the Buttermilks.
You can also email, write to, or phone the White Mountain Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest to share your opinion.
Lesley Yen, Natural Resource Specialist, 760-873-2524, firstname.lastname@example.org
Written comments should be addressed to:
White Mountain Ranger District
798 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514