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Technology helps Denny Cove track number of climbers

By Susan Campbell, Contributing Writer

REGIONAL NEWS | South Cumberland State Park — Rangers and volunteers at the South Cumberland State Park (SCSP) have embarked on a project to track the number of visitors to sections of the park most popular with rock climbers.

An Access Fund grant awarded to the Friends of South Cumberland (FSC) will use infrared trail counters to collect data on the number of rock climbers at the Denny Cove and Foster Falls sections of the park. The FSC worked with park rangers to install the counters at these two locations, which are popular with both hikers and climbers.

South Cumberland State Park Ranger Ryan Harris installs infrared tracking devices near Denny Cove in the South Cumberland State Park. The trackers, obtained by the Friends of South Cumberland through a grant from The Access Fund, will count climbers visiting both the Denny Cove and Foster Falls sections of the park.  {Photo Provided}

The data collected from the counters will give the park a better idea of the number of climbers accessing these two locations and will allow the park and the FSC to better advocate for climber resources in the park, according to FSC Board Vice President Trae Moore.

“The initial trail count project will be limited to Denny Cove and Foster Falls, but if the project is successful, the Friends hope to expand the use of the trail counters throughout the park,” Moore said.

The counters work by using an infrared beam to detect when a person passes by the counter. It then stores this information until the rangers retrieve the data. The counters are positioned in locations to best tally all visitors to these locations.

Through direct observation, FSC volunteers will also verify the accuracy of the counters and develop ratios of climbers versus hikers in order to obtain more accurate data on the number of climbers, according to Moore, while also collecting raw data on all users of the trails.

Denny Cove, one of the park’s newest sections, was added in July, 2016 when The Access Fund, a climbing advocacy group, and Southeast Climbers’ Coalition (SCC), with help from the FSC, purchased the 685-acre tract. It was dedicated and officially opened to the public in March of 2017. Previously held by a Brazilian timber company, Denny Cove is described as “a nearly pristine parcel with outstanding cliff-lines, making it a priority acquisition for climbing enthusiasts.”

Over 150 world-class climbing routes have already been identified on the bluffs at Denny Cove, located just off US Highway 41, two miles south of the entrance to Foster Falls.

The mission of the Access Fund is to advocate for climbers on a national level. To learn more, visit www.accessfund.org. To learn more about the FSC, visit www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org.

The South Cumberland State Park is located within four Tennessee counties: Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie. The park is composed of approximately 30,845 acres in nine separate areas and boasts some of the best hiking and back country camping in the region. It is the largest state park in Tennessee. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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