LOCUS GROVE & THE NARROWS

First, some context: If you’ve never heard of them, these two areas are in Cumberland Maryland, about a 2-hour drive from SWPA. Locust Grove is home to multiple 100′ walls (predominantly slab) and over 60 high quality routes half of which are trad and half of which are well protected sport routes. A couple of the easy and moderate trad routes there are very well protected and make for some of the best first leads anywhere in the region. The Narrows has over 100 different trad routes. Both are are located on private property directly adjacent to Wills Mountain State Park. Locust Grove is completely closed and the Narrows are partially closed to climbing.

A new LCO, Western Maryland Climbing Coalition (WMCC) was formed in 2021 specifically to regain climbing access to these two areas. The current goal is encourage Maryland State Parks to move forward with plans to purchase the land where these climbing areas are located and incorporate them into Wills Mountain State Park. 

WMCC is currently in the middle of a letter writing campaign to demonstrate the public interest in these properties. SWPACC is encouraging all of our members to join the campaign and write an email using the information below to let Maryland State parks know just how valuable the resource of secured climbing areas will be to the region. 

Current status:

The Narrows: News on this front has been slower to come out than hoped, but the land parcel is on the verge of being sold to Maryland. On the cusp. But it needs a nudge and push from us. Thus this letter writing campaign.

Locust Grove: The land sale of this parcel is further behind that of the Narrows, but the state and the Allegheny Holding Company are in active discussions. Hopefully this campaign will help push that along.

Now, the ask: SWPACC participated in WMCC’s first letter campaign last year but there hasn’t been much news since then. Given the above noted statuses of the two land parcels, WMCC is starting another letter writing campaign. For one, it will remind the higher ups in the state of Maryland that we are still here and still very interested in the land transfer. They were stunned by the number of letters they received last year; they knew that “some” climbers went to the Narrows, but had no idea the numbers, or even about Locust Grove. Secondly, it would help to make sure these land sales don’t lag in bureaucracy any longer than they need to.

What to write? You can resend in the letter you wrote last year, or, if you’re feeling more proactive on the dialogue, maybe say something to the effect of: “Hi, thank you for your reply, I just wanted to check in and see how things were going with the land parcel sales. I haven’t heard much in the past year, and was wondering if there was anything I could do to help.” If you have not written previously we are primarily looking to inform Maryland Parks just how valuable these climbing areas would be and how much more traffic and tourism they could bring to the area. The fact that you write in is almost more important that what you actually write! We really just need to be seen and heard and NOW IS THE TIME!

The pertinent persons and emails to send in your letter are:

Nita Settina, Superintendent of Maryland State Parks – nita.settina@maryland.gov

Jeannie Riccio, Secretary of Natural Resources, Maryland – jeannie.riccio@maryland.gov

Daryl Anthony, Executive Director Outdoor Recreation, Office of the Secretary (has the ear of the governor on all matters outdoor recreation) – daryl.anthony1@maryland.gov

Christy Bright, head ranger of New Germany State Park and Regional Park Manager for western Maryland (Sarah Milbourne’s immediate boss) – christy.bright@maryland.gov

Sarah Milbourne, head ranger of Rocky Gap State Park and Wills Mountain State Park (she will oversee the Narrows and Locust Grove when those land parcels are transferred; she is a strong ally of the climbing community) – sarah.milbourne@maryland.gov

Please feel free to share this with anyone in the climbing (or hiking, or mountain biking) community that you know who loves the Narrows and/or Locust Grove. And stay tuned to the Western Maryland Climbing Coalition webpage, the WMCC Facebook page, the WMCC Instagram, and the Climb Maryland! Facebook page for future news updates.