Outdated and inaccurate information about Sinks Canyon State Park (SCSP) made headlines shortly before Christmas, according to a press release from the citizen advocacy group Sinks Canyon Wild (SCW).
SCSP has been in the process of project planning for the last 2 years, beginning with its 2020 Master Plan. The Via Ferrata is one project from the Master Plan that the SCSP has been studying and moving forward. Factors involved in siting a Via Ferrata include considerations for cultural resources, such as rock art and special ceremonial sites, and wildlife resources.
These considerations have been the focus of SCW, which has been working with the SCSP since the summer of 2021 to ensure any recreation development plans are consistent with the wildlife management objectives set forth in the designation of the SCSP. The original location, proposed by Via Ferrata proponents, was on a cliff that housed an active pair of Peregrine Falcons, which was ultimately eliminated from consideration.
The SCSP has been working for the past year with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Cultural Resources Offices, waiting for cultural clearance on a different proposed Via Ferrata location across the highway from the Sawmill Campground. This is locally called the “Sandstone Buttress.” The Tribal reports are finished, and SCSP is currently working on the next phases of their process, including evaluating the tribal reports, and locating an engineering firm to determine the integrity of this sandstone cliff for the installation of a Via Ferrata.
As stated on their Facebook page, the SCSP has again reiterated their promise of a public meeting to present the findings of their process and studies to the public before any decision on the Via Ferrata proposal goes forward. There needs to be time for the SCSP to do their investigations. SCW remains dedicated to using social media and news releases to inform the public where SCSP is within this process.
Other SCW work is in partnership with the SCSP on a variety of projects, including donating funds to help pay for a spotting scope viewing station, and by providing written support for the Dark Skies Designation for the Park. SCW is committed to wildlife focused recreation in Sinks Canyon. Accurate information is provided on the SP Facebook page.