Cochise Stronghold Closures - 2009

As of April 19, 2009, there is one official closure order and three internal Forest Service memos regarding closures for Peregrine Falcons in the Cochise Stronghold. The official closure order, #05-189, was signed by the Coronado National Forest Supervisor John McGee in March of 2002 and is shown below:

Special Closure Order 05-189 Special Closure Order 05-189

In 2006, Bob Kerry, Diane Vetter, and John Hayes met with the Coronado National Forest and they negotiated several improvements in the Cochise Stronghold closure order. These improvements were first described in an internal forest service memo dated December 1, 2006. This memo was signed by Douglas Hardy, the district ranger for the Douglas District of the Coronado National Forest. Although this memo is less restrictive than closure order #05-189, it is not an official closure order since it has not been signed by the Coronado National Forest supervisor.

I talked with Tom Skinner of the National Forest Service on Thursday, October 11, 2008 about the Peregrine Falcon closures in the Stronghold. Following the discussion, he sent me a copy of the Douglas Hardy internal memo regarding the closures. There was the assumption on my part that this was the official closure order for the Cochise Stronghold since it was sent out by a Forest Service representative. Here is a copy of that memo:

Special Closure Order 05-189

There are several differences between Tom Skinner's / Douglas Hardy's internal memo and closure order #05-189. These differences are summarized in this table:

Official Closure Order Tom Skinner / Douglas Hardy Internal Memo
Starts on February 15th Starts on March 1st
Cochise Dome, Square Top, Waterfall Dome, and Rockfellow Dome are closed Rockfellow Dome and Cochise Dome are closed
The Rockfellow Park area is closed The Rockfellow Park area is closed to overnight camping
The fine is $5000 maximum for an individual, not more than 6 months in jail, or both No penalty is mentioned
Signed by the Forest Supervisor John M. McGee Signed by the District Ranger Douglas D. Hardy

The differences in these closure orders has been pointed out to Larry Jones of the Coronado National Forest. He has been in communication with the other Forest Service Biologists and Law enforcement representatives as well as the Coronado National Forest supervisore Jeanine Derby. On April 13, 2009, Jeanine Derby sent out the following internal forest service memo:

Derby Memo - Page 1 Derby Memo - Page 2


Although there are three internal Forest Service memos supporting relaxed climbing restrictions for the Cochise Stronghold, the official closure order has not been changed. However, for 2009, Jeanine Derby says she will honor the agreements with the climbing community that are documented in the internal memos. Law Enforcement Agents of the Coronado National Forest have been informed of this policy.

I have discussed getting the closure updated with Larry Jones of the Forest Service but there is no timeline for when this will be done. Evidently it is much easier to write internal memos than it is to change a closure order.

The third Forest Service Internal memo is shown below. It was written by William Edwards, the district ranger for the Douglas District of the Coronado National Forest. This memo was written on February 11, 2008 and is essentially the same as the Douglas Hardy memo.

Edwards Memo
Home | News | Interviews | Service/Links | Features | Hall of Horrors

Copyright: 2009, RAHutchins
Revised: April 20, 2009