Nestled east of Boise lies a treasured spot, eyed by climbers and wildlife alike. Here, the towering Black Cliffs aren’t just a ‘home crag’ for locals; they’re a vital sanctuary for the raptors that actually call this place home.

Since 1999, climbers have been working to protect and monitor raptors nesting at the Black Cliffs. This work is primarily managed by the Boise Climber’s Alliance (BCA), which was formed in the Spring of 1999 in response to a newspaper article that suggested climbers were threatening the nests of raptors at the climbing area. Concerned about both the raptors and the threat that a cherished recreation area could change, the climbing community organized and quickly created a plan to minimize impact. Ultimately, “climbers decided to close climbing areas during nesting season” said Brian Fedigan, BCA Board Member. 

Photo Credit: Camdon Kay

Fast forward to today, and the spring closure program is still in place after 25 years. With the popularity of the sport growing, and the threats to native wildlife increasing, the program has evolved significantly over time. “In 2010 we took on a voluntary raptor biologist who actively monitored nesting birds. This allowed us to relay more accurate information to the public about what climbs to avoid during specific times,” said Fedigan. 

Currently, the Boise Climbers Alliance hires interns that monitor the nests weekly, providing up-to-date information about what areas of the cliffs are off-limits to climbers, prioritizing successful nesting of the area’s raptors. Up to date closures are monitored on the Boise Climber’s Alliance website. 

To help spread the word about this program, BCA has developed an annual partnership event with Boise climbing gym, The Commons. During raptor nesting season they bring in a local raptor expert to the gym, who is often accompanied by a feathered friend, to provide more information and education to Boise’s climbing community. 

By integrating conservation efforts like this monitoring program into outdoor recreation, outdoor enthusiasts can not only enjoy outdoor activities, but can also become active stewards of their favorite natural resources. Through practices such as Leave no Trace, citizen science, and wildlife monitoring initiatives, we can minimize our impact and actively contribute to preserving these places and the recreation opportunities they hold for generations to come.

Join BCA and The Commons for their annual presentation about this program, and how to get involved with other climbing conservation efforts in Idaho. The program is on Wednesday, March 27th, and more information can be found here!

To stay updated on all things Idaho wildlife, sign up for ICL Wildlife Program updates here!