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Vol. 10 No. i (2022): Spring 2022

Impact of Recreational Rock Climbing on Lichen Development at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

November 21, 2023


Lichen is a drought resistant, moss-like organism that plays an important foundational role in environmental systems. Lichen perpetuates chemical and physical weathering of rocky outcrops, initiating soil creation processes in arid environments such as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (ERSNA), an exposed granite batholith in the Texas Hill Country between Fredericksburg and Llano. Recent increases in human outdoor recreation, such as rock climbing, increase the potential for human activity to negatively impact this environmentally significant organism. We sought to determine whether lichen development was being impacted by recreational rock climbing within ERSNA. Measurements of lichen colonies at popular climbing locations within the study area were compared to measurements of lichen colonies on non-climbing areas. No significant statistical difference was observed between these measurements, indicating that climbing is not having an adverse impact on park lichen colonies.