The National Park Service has closed the Deer Creek Narrows from the Patio down to Deer Creek Falls and the Colorado River. From the NPS Press Release:
Deer Creek Drainage, river mile 136.9, right bank of the Colorado River
Rappelling or ascending and descending on ropes, webbing or other climbing and rappelling devices whether natural or man-made, withing Deer Creek is prohibited. This restriction extends from within the watercourse of the creek beginning at the Patio (northestern-most part of the Deer Creek Narrows) and extending to the base of Deer Creek Falls.
(This restriction is necessary for the protection of a significant cultural resource)
For full text of the closure statement click below:
The GCPBA has this to say in their weekly RiverNews:
It seems that the area was closed without any prior public notification or hearing. Wally Rist, President of the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, has been working to discover the rationale behind the sudden closure of the narrows to public visitation. As Rist points out, the area has been visited by explorers, river runners and hikers since Canyon visitation began more than 143 years ago, with virtually no impact.
UPDATE (6/21/12): I have spent a lot of time thinking about this in the past 24 hours. There is a lot of damage to the sandstone at the entrance to Deer Creek Narrows from the Patio due to numerous ropes being used over the years. The tribes have identified this as a cultural resource and it is being damaged by recreational user groups including rafters, but also hikers and canyoneers. The NPS has identified a problem and solved it. The park superintendent does an excellent job of balancing the demands of a diverse set of interests. I know the rafting community is frustrated because they were not consulted on this decision, but what would we say? The tribes get to say if it is a cultural resource and any ranger can go out there and snap a couple photos and see that it is being impacted by ropes. The closure is specific to the problem and not overreaching to close the Narrows entirely. If you are comfortable climbing in and out of the Narrows without a rope then you are still free to go in there.
UPDATE (8/7/12): The NPS has updated the language in their closure to include climbing with our without ropes:
Updates and Closures
Climbing and/or rappelling in the creek narrows, with or without the use of ropes or other technical equipment, is prohibited. This restriction extends within the creek beginning at the southeast end of the rock ledges, known as the “Patio” to the base of Deer Creek Falls. The trail from the river to hiker campsites and points up-canyon remains open. This restriction is necessary for the protection of significant cultural resources