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Plan limits options for rock climbers

While most of the recreational 1.7 million annual users of the park will be unaffected by the National Capital Commission’s new Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan, rock climbers will see their available walls reduced to three or four cliffs providing 43 different routes. That’s down from over 500 routes that are currently available.

Rock climbers will no longer have their pick of spots to scale in Gatineau Park.

While most of the recreational 1.7 million annual users of the park will be unaffected by the National Capital Commission’s new Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan, rock climbers will see their available walls reduced to three or four cliffs providing 43 different routes. That’s down from over 500 routes that are currently available.

The problem is that most climbing walls are also in the Eardley Escarpment, a 20-km stretch that runs along the southern boundary of the park and is home to more than half of the endangered species living in the park.

“In the whole province of Quebec, the place where we have the most densely populated species at risk is on the Eardley Escarpment,” said Michael Viens, the NCC’s senior director of natural resources.

Protecting and rehabilitating the Eardley Escarpment is one of the top priorities of conservation plan.

The plan also calls for a study to identify and protect the ecological corridors that wildlife use to get in and out of the park.

“Nobody can manage a park without being concerned about what we call the external matrix — what is outside the park,” said Prof. Daniel Gagnon, chair of the external expert committee advising on the plan.