Located eighteen miles outside Orangeville, Utah, is one of the Southwest’s most treasured bouldering areas in the Manti La-Sal National Forest. Joe’s Valley is home to more than a hundred established boulders for rock climbing and is visited by some 15,000 climbers annually including the annual Joe’s Valley Climbing Fest. Despite being known worldwide for its bouldering, Joe’s Valley has never seen any kind of infrastructure to facilitate and sustain its increase in visitors. Social trails lead up to many of the boulders but are not sustainable and continue to spread out and multiply as there are currently no established trails. This is where ACE Utah and the Student Conservation Association come into play.
The Access Fund (a climbing advocacy and conservation group), as well as the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, have been working with the USFS and the BLM to create a collaborative approach to adjusting management and creating the infrastructure to enhance user experiences and avoid further resource damage.
The ACE crew worked alongside crews from the Student Conservation Association (SCA), a conservation team from the Access Fund as well as community volunteers and the Forest Service to complete the work. The ACE crew was led by David Wieland during the month-long project. During the duration of the project, the crew put in over 100 rock steps and moved approximately 40 rocks with rigging equipment to improve access to the boulders and to create lasting trails.
The established trails will concentrate the foot traffic to the most sustainable route, allowing the surrounding areas to recover vegetation and reestablish the natural area. ACE is proud to be a part of this collaborative effort in one of the first projects in which the climbing community has taken the lead in advocating, planning, and implementing a project at this scale.