Access: Rattlesnake Gutter

June 2010

As you may or may not be aware, the WMCC has been actively working  with the Town of Leverett to develop management strategies for rock-climbing in Rattlesnake Gutter. Currently, climbing is neither prohibited nor actively managed in the Town owned portion of the Gutter, which includes the majority of the boulders and cliffs within the gated road.   In June, the Leverett Conservation Commission agreed to endorse WMCC efforts aimed at investigating the re-introduction of climbing in the area known as the “Main Cliff”-a privately owned section that has been closed to climbers (and the general public) since the late 80’s.

The Town of Leverett had recently purchased land for conservation purposes at the top of the “Main Cliff”.  This land was purchased using Community Preservation Act funding, which requires that land must also have a Conservation  Restriction (CR) placed on it.  According to state law, this CR must  be held by an entity other than the Town. The obvious choice to hold the CR was the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust (RGT), a local land trust comprised of passionate, mindful, and dedicated volunteers who work to protect land in Leverett.

The WMCC has had several meetings and conversations with the RGT since mid-September about climbing at the “Main-Cliff” and about the final CR language.  Despite these efforts, the final CR draft explicitly  PROHIBITED climbing and climber access to the top of the “Main Cliff”.
This final draft was submitted to the Leverett Selectboard for final approval at their  meeting on Tuesday, November 30th.  The Leverett Conservation Commission and the WMCC attended the meeting to speak in favor for continued access to the top of the “Main Cliff” and, specifically,  that the CR language should reflect the overall goals of the Town; 64 out of the 102 Leverett residents who responded to the Conservation Commission’s “Open Space and Recreation Plan Survey” ranked climbing as a recreational activity of medium to high importance.  Fortunately, democracy prevailed and the Select Board agreed that CR language which specifically prohibited climibing in this area was not appropriate for CPA funded, Town owned land.  They thus requested that the Conservation Commission and the RGT work together to come up with more community focused and diplomatic language.
The WMCC is committed to maintaining a positive working relationship with the Town of Leverett, private landowners, the Leverett Townspeople, and the RGT.  As you can imagine, future access at the “Main Cliff” is uncertain, and will require careful planning under direction of all stakeholders.  Thanks to those who came to the hearing and showed their support. For now, the best way to help is to follow the guidelines posted on our Rattlesnake Gutter Crag Page.
As always, your questions and feedback are appreciated!
-WMCC Board of Directors