Nesting peregrine falcons will lead to some temporary climbing closures in Zion National Park for the next four months or so, according to park officials.
Park officials established the dates for the closures based on nesting information collected from 2001-2010. Closures being implemented today include the cliffs below Angels Landing, Cable Mountain, Great White Throne (beyond single and double-pitched climbs), Isaac (in Court of the Patriarchs), Sentinel, Mountain of the Sun, North Twin Brother, Tunnel West, East Temple, Mount Spry, Streaked Wall, Mount Kinesava and Middle Fork of Taylor Creek. All other cliffs are open to climbing.
Park biologists will continue to monitor the nesting activity of peregrine falcons in the park throughout the 2011 breeding season. Cliffs that were previously used for nesting by peregrines, but are not being used this year, will be re-opened in May. Those cliffs being used by nesting peregrines this year will be monitored until the chicks fledge, usually in late July, and then will be reopened to climbing, according to a park release.
Zion is home to a high concentration of breeding peregrine falcons each spring and summer. These birds of prey were listed as an "endangered species" in 1970 under the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, peregrine populations recovered across North America and the species was delisted in 1999.
Zion has been and continues to be an important sanctuary for peregrines and other species. Even when peregrine populations were declining elsewhere, they continued to successfully nest and raise their young on the tall cliffs found in many canyons in the park. Historically, Zion National Park has hosted breeding peregrine falcons in 18 known territories. Some of the park's most popular climbing routes are located on peregrine falcon nesting cliffs.
For up-to-date information on the status and maps of the closed climbing cliffs and routes, please check the Zion National Park website at www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/climbing.htm. Climbers are responsible for checking the specific maps and photos of the closed areas. The website will be continuously updated as routes are reopened.