Access Fund Announces First Round Grant Recipients for 2014
The Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded over $21,000 in this first round of the 2014 Climbing Preservation Grants Program. Each year, the Access Fund awards up to $40,000 in grant money to local climbing communities with worthy projects that preserve or enhance climbing access. The Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grants Program is an example of membership dollars at work in local climbing communities across the country. Again this round, Access Fund members got the opportunity to review qualifying grant projects and rate them, providing valuable input to our grant selection committee as to which projects they want their contributions to support. We are pleased to announce funding for the following worthy projects.
Blount County: Palisades Park Acquisition (AL)
Blount County was awarded funding for the purchase of 20 acres adjacent to Palisades Park near Oneonta, Alabama. The private property features approximately 750 feet of bluff for rock climbing and scenic views, as well as several large, quality boulders. The acquisition will protect the forested area’s beautiful natural setting and a variety of plants and wildlife that will enhance the existing park. The climber-friendly county has received positive feedback and support from the climbing community and local partner Southeastern Climbers Coalition.
Central Wyoming Climbers Alliance: Start-Up Costs (WY)
Wyoming climbers were awarded grant funding to form the Central Wyoming Climbers Alliance, a coalition to support climbing areas and grassroots efforts such as the International Climbers Festival and anchor replacement. The local climbing organization plans to serve as the formal, on-the-ground partner with land managers and the outdoor community to protect popular climbing areas such as Sinks Canyon, Wild Iris, the Wind River Range, and various bouldering areas. The fundingwill help cover the cost of seeking federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status so local climbers can better work for the needs of the central Wyoming climbing community.
Clifton Climbers Alliance: Eagle Bluff Acquisition (ME)
Clifton Climbers Alliance was awarded funding to help save Eagle Bluff, a popular crag in Clifton, Maine, that was closed to climbing in 2013 and put up for sale. Climbing began here in the late 1960s and features over 130 cracks and sport climbs as well as bouldering below the bluff. Eagle Bluff has introduced many people to outdoor climbing and is utilized by several local groups and organizations. The climbing community has secured the sole right to acquire Eagle Bluff with an Option Agreement currently held by the Access Fund, and has until August 1st to raise $150,000 to protect this beautiful dome rising from the Maine woods.
Daniel Boone National Forest: Red River Gorge Staging Area Impact Study (KY)
Daniel Boone National Forest was awarded funding to help recreation planner and graduate student Nicholas Walendziak conduct an important research project at climbing areas in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky. The project will compare and analyze the biophysical impact trends at staging areas below popular climbs with the same standardized data collection employed in 2008. The results will inform a climbing management plan to keep recreational impacts within the Forest Service’s Limits of Acceptable Change. The research will also help partners, such as the Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition, to prioritize trail projects.
Manti-La Sal National Forest: Mill Creek Trail Improvements and Kiosk (UT)
The Manti-La Sal National Forest was awarded funding to enhance access to the increasingly popular Mill Creek Gorge climbing area outside Moab, Utah. The area currently lacks a designated trail system to the climbs, and with the increasing amount of human impacts, climbing access is likely to be threatened in the near future. Manti-La Sal National Forest will use grant funding to design and construct a sustainable access trail and install an information kiosk at the trailhead to reduce the impacts of human use on the sensitive riparian area. Friends of Indian Creek will provide volunteer support to help ensure a future of sustainable climbing access.
Red River Gorge Climber's Coalition (RRGCC): Miller Fork Infrastructure Improvements (KY)
RRGCC was awarded funding for improvements to Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP), a previously undeveloped 300-acre area in Lee County, Kentucky, which they purchased last year. Route development has already begun at the MFRP, but the area lacks a sustainable trail system, bridges, and parking. RRGC will use grant funds to create a parking area for over 30 cars, bridges to cross numerous creeks on the property, and a sustainable trail system, providing access to over 20 crags with over 250 newly developed climbs.
Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI): Shelf Road Trail Improvements (CO)
RMFI was awarded funding to improve the trail infrastructure at the Bank area of Shelf Road, Colorado. RMFI will improve 0.5 miles of climbing access trails and restore 0.25 miles of heavily eroded social trails. Shelf Road continues to increase in popularity; a user count tallied over 30,000 visitors to the Bank Area in 2013. This project will result in improved access to the crag while building stewardship support for Shelf Road’s natural resources—protecting it for future recreational use.
Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA): Joe's Valley Recreation Site Assessment (UT)
SLCA was awarded funding to conduct a site assessment that will improve access and protect natural resources at Joe’s Valley in Utah, an expansive bouldering area of growing national popularity. SLCA will conduct professional GIS mapping and spatial analysis of bouldering sites, dispersed campsites, social trails, and parking. The data will be compiled into a formal report and give recommendations to the land managers of Joe’s Valley for future trail work, restoration, and recreational improvements. This assessment will serve as a model for other climbing areas and will set a precedent for land managers to seek input from recreation groups in their planning efforts.
Western Massachusetts Climbers' Coalition (WMCC): Farley Ledge Parking Improvements (MA)
The WMCC was awarded funding for parking improvements at Farley ledge, where they purchased property at the base of the cliff in 2007 to protect against potential development and provide access to the cliff and trail system. Farley’s popularity has continued to grow, and it is now necessary to improve portions of the current parking lot to alleviate concerns about erosion, rutting, and occasional inaccessibility. This funding will help pave the existing steep, gravel driveway to ensure a more sustainable and durable site, demonstrating a proactive resource management and improvement initiative.
Help Ensure Muir Valley Climbing Access
We have an exciting opportunity for Muir Valley ownership to be gifted to the climbing community to ensure climbing access in perpetuity. And you can play an important role in making this happen!
Over the past ten years, from the time they purchased undeveloped land in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky, Muir Valley landowners, Rick and Liz Weber, have developed it into a world-class climbing area. It has been the Webers’ vision to ultimately place this treasure in the hands of the climbing community. To make this vision a reality, the Webers, Friends of Muir Valley (FOMV), and the Access Fund have created a transition plan with a set of goals that, if accomplished in 2014, will result in the gifting of Muir Valley to the Friends of Muir Valley by March of 2015.
Before the transition can occur, FOMV must phase into responsibility for Muir Valley maintenance and must raise $200,000 in 2014 to cover operating/maintenance expenses, as well as the expenses associated with transfer of ownership and a stewardship fund for the property. None of the $200,000 to be raised is going to the Webers. Muir Valley is to be a gift from the Webers to the climbing community. For more information on this project, visit theFOMV website and the Muir Valley website.
We need your help! The climbing community has helped to make Muir Valley the incredible climbing destination it is today, and we are counting on you to help protect this legacy.
Adopt a Crag Season is Coming
Now that the holidays are over and the days are getting longer and warmer, many of us are thinking about climbing season. Now is also a great time to start thinking about your local climbing area and what it may need—perhaps a trash pick-up, graffiti removal, a new set of rock steps, or an information kiosk. Adopt a Crag events are one of the best ways to harness the power of volunteers and give back to our climbing areas. They also show land managers that climbers care about the places they recreate, which helps build strong partnerships that protect access. Now is the time to get together with your local climbing community to start planning your volunteer stewardship days. The Access Fund is here to help you plan your Adopt a Crag event. Take a look at our online resources,register your event, and reach out to us if you need help getting started.
Conservation Team Hits the Road
Amanda and Mike have spent the last few weeks dialing in their systems, ordering and sharpening tools, and learning about the Access Fund's work. Their first trail project is in Eldorado Canyon State Park before they head off to Moe’s Valley, Utah and then head East. You can keep tabs on where they've been and where they're headed next by following their geo blog and Facebook page. If you see the new Access Fund Jeep roll into your area, be sure to show Amanda and Mike some love as they work to improve our climbing areas!
Follow the Conservation Team!
Encouraging News for Sauratown Access
For years, North Carolina climbers found winter refuge at the steep quartzite of Sauratown Mountain, which hosts a bevy of high quality trad and sport routes (including Sauraballs, which Todd Skinner called one of the best 5.11s in the US). Sadly, in 2005 a fire (unrelated to climbers) resulted in the land owner closing the cliff.
Since the closure, the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) has kept in touch with the land owner and worked on re-opening the cliff. In 2013, after a series of meetings and email exchanges, a deal was brokered for three weekends of access during the prime season. CCC volunteers got in before the initial weekend and replaced aging hardware and re-established the trail, prepping the cliff for climbers. So far, climbers have enjoyed two weekends at the crag, and there's still one more to go.
Because of the volunteer efforts and the way in which climbers have self-managed the cliff and access, relations between the CCC and the land owner are excellent, and the long-term outlook is encouraging. With continued diligence and conversations the CCC hopes to restore access to the crag for the current and future generations of climbers in the Carolinas.
Way to go CCC!
Save Eagle Bluff!
The Access Fund and Clifton Climbers Alliance are excited to announce that we have secured an Option Agreement on Eagle Bluff in Clifton, Maine, giving us the exclusive right to purchase the property for permanent conservation and climbing access. Now we need the climbing community’s help to raise $150,000 for the purchase and stewardship of Eagle Bluff.
Climbers have been enjoying the granite cracks of Eagle Bluff since the late 1960s. Today, the crag features over 130 cracks and sport climbs as well as bouldering below the bluff. In the mid-1990s, climbing access was threatened when the property was listed for sale. The Access Fund started working with the local climbing community to fundraise, but the previous owner was unwilling to wait. Fortunately, local climber Donald Nelligan stepped up to purchase the property with help from John Barker and Ward Smith, who also contributed time and resources to install fixed anchors and clean the cliff. Eagle Bluff is what it is today due to the dedication of Donald and his climbing partners.
Donald Nelligan passed away in the Summer of 2013, with no will to outline the future of Eagle Bluff. The Nelligan family closed public access due to liability concerns and immediately sought to sell the property.
With support from the Access Fund, representatives from the local climbing community, Town of Clifton, and Maine Coast Heritage Trust met with the family to determine a plan for permanent conservation. To continue Donald’s legacy, the Nelligan family agreed to sell the property for $125,000 once the community could raise the appropriate funds and complete its due diligence.
“The people of Clifton see Eagle Bluff as a priority for both conservation and recreation,” says Eric Johns, Planning Board Chair for the Town. “The Planning Board believes this unique parcel is critical to the development of outdoor recreational assets in the community.”
The Access Fund currently holds the Option Agreement, and has until August 1, 2014 to exercise the option to buy this 160-acre property. The Access Fund plans to assign the Option to either the Town of Clifton, the newly formed Clifton Climbers Alliance, or a local land trust for long-term management and stewardship.
“Eagle Bluff is a key climbing resource for climbers of Bangor and central Maine,” says Jayson Nissen of Clifton Climbers Alliance. “We reformed Clifton Climbers Alliance to help protect, fundraise, and steward the property.”
“Eagle Bluff is a unique feature, important to climbers, hikers and people who enjoy being out in nature. A broad group of people who truly care about this place have come together to create this opportunity to conserve it. Now, we all hope that everyone who cares about this place and about having access to special places like Eagle Bluff will contribute to help this project succeed.” says Ciona Ulbrich of Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
The Access Fund is excited to join this partnership with the Town, local climbers, and conservation community to preserve Eagle Bluff for future generations of climbers. Please make a donation today at www.accessfund.org/eaglebluff to protect this special New England climbing area!
Action Alert: Re-Open Hawaii Climbing
Hawaii climbers need your help to re-open climbing access on state lands!
Liability concerns have driven the State of Hawaii to shut down numerous hikes and climbing areas in the past year and a half, but we have a chance to reverse these closures with your help. The climbing community and other sports enthusiasts collaborated with legislators and the Hawaii Attorney General’s office to develop a new bill, Senate Bill 1007 (HD1), currently up for consideration by Hawaii’s 2014 legislature. This new bill will resolve state liability concerns, open several Oahu climbing sites, and prevent further closures of public lands. The Attorney General’s office stated that this legislation must pass if they are to reopen closed areas and prevent additional closures.
Hawaii climbers need your help pass this legislation. Please take the simple steps below to submit testimony on behalf of this new bill. If you are a Hawaii resident, please consider attending the hearing in Oahu on Thursday January 30th, at 2:00 p.m. in room #325 inside the Capitol.
- Visit the Hawaii State Legislature website.
- Register and Sign In using the links in the upper right corner of the page.
- Submit Testimony on Bill SB1007 (HD1) Proposed
- Copy and paste the text of the letter below or craft your own.
- In addition to the above, take just a few seconds to sign a change.org petition.
The deadline for testimony is Thursday 1/30/2014, so please submit your comments as soon as possible.
Draft Letter - Copy and Paste - Update highlighted section
I, the undersigned resident of Hawaii and/or possible visitor to Hawaii very strongly support the passage of SB 1007 (HD1) and any provisions that will make this legislation permanent.
I support this measure because I cherish our right to freely enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in Hawaii’s mountains including hiking, biking, trail running, climbing, paragliding and other activities. I am concerned about the State’s current absence of liability protection, which has led to ongoing closures of climbing areas, hiking trails, and other scenic sites due to the State’s legitimate fear of lawsuits. I strongly believe that public lands need to remain open to the public.
In comparison to other western states, Hawaii’s recreational liability statutes are sorely lacking. I do not want to see access to mountain sports across the Hawaiian Islands denied or restricted due to a group of 4,000 trial attorneys. I strongly disagree with previous testimony against liability reform in Hawaii that suggests that the status quo is in the best interest of the public, or that status quo will keep us safer by holding the State liable for accidents (such as the Brem case in 2012). I am a responsible citizen who recognizes the assumed risks in engaging in recreational activities on State lands. I believe that individuals who choose to go hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, or who choose to engage in any other recreational use of public lands, should do so at their own risk.
Without the passage of this bill, the State of Hawaii is left with very little protection from litigation resulting from injuries that occur on State lands. I believe the lack of liability protection is untenable, especially given the ever-growing popularity of mountain recreation to residents in Hawaii and visitors, comprising our tourist economy.
This bill is an agreeable compromise. It notably does not provide the State with absolute immunity, but does require that those engaging in hazardous recreational activities accept the risks associated with their actions. This bill will effectively balance State responsibilities (to maintain public trail systems and to warn of possible hazards) with individual responsibilities. Thus, I fully endorse this essential legislation provided in SB 1007 (HD1) and urge the Hawaii State Legislature to pass it into law.
CAMP Gear Grant Winner Announced
Congratulations to Sandra Chun, recipient of the 4th quarter CAMP Gear Grant for Access Fund Birthdays. Sandra donated her birthday to the Access Fund this past fall, raising money and awareness to protect climbing access. “I was inspired by other climbers who have recently donated their birthdays to climbing, especially Jonathan Siegrist,” says Sandra. “I love to climb and am very grateful for the access provided to us, as well as the preservation of the crags I love!” We are honored to present Sandra with the $500 Gear Grant from CAMP USA to recognize her fundraising efforts. Sandra plans to use her Gear Grant to start building a trad rack. A special thanks to CAMP USA for helping to recognize our dedicated birthday fundraisers!
You can donate your birthday too! www.accessfund.org/birthdays.
Over $30,000 Raised to Protect Sandstone for Midwest Climbers!
The Minnesota Climbers Association (MCA) and Access Fund are excited to announce that the bouldering area in Sandstone, MN has been acquired for climbing access. Almost 10 years ago the MCA worked with private landowners to gain access to the high-quality bouldering area. This past year, the MCA got word that the landowners were looking to sell the property, putting public access at imminent risk. The landowners generously agreed to give local climbers the first opportunity to purchase the land.
With support from MCA and Access Fund, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota (PTCM) purchased the property and will hold it for 2-3 years before integrating it into Banning State Park. Local climbers helped to fundraise for the acquisition costs and future improvements, exceeding the fundraising goal with $31,132! Thanks to the community of dedicated climbers and donors who helped make this project a success!
Washington’s Whistler Canyon Protected
As 2013 was coming to a close, local hikers, climbers, horseback riders, and community members joined forces to protect a critical property in Okanogan County of north central Washington. The 63-acre property serves as the access point for a popular trail network and dozens of rock climbs, as well as access to climbing further up the canyon.
In an unfortunate series of events, the County put the property up for auction for possible conversion to a quarry, putting recreational access and wildlife habitat at imminent risk. Local nonprofits immediately came together in an effort to protect the property, and came to the Access Fund for support. Kinross Corporation, which runs the local Buckhorn Mine, stepped in to purchase the property to show their support of local conservation. Washington State Department of Ecology approved the purchase for open space protection, assuring conservation of the property in perpetuity. Access Fund provided a letter of support towards implementing this solution and the property will be protected for future generations.
Action Alert: Re-Open Williamson Rock
We need your help to lift an 8-year climbing ban at Williamson Rock, a premier sport climbing destination in Southern California. The Forest Service is re-evaluating this closure and climbers need to submit their input. Visit our action center and take action now!
Access Fund Announces 2013 Sharp End Awards
The Access Fund announced today the winners of the 2013 Sharp End Awards. Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that go above and beyond to volunteer their time and efforts to preserving climbing access and the climbing environment. These recipients stand out in their commitment to the American climbing community, and the Access Fund is honored to present this year's awards to a worthy group of volunteers and activists. Please join us in congratulating them!
Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award - Jonathan Knight
Access Fund is proud to present Jonathan Knight with a Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of climbing advocacy, stewardship, and service in the Wasatch Range and Salt Lake City area. For more than a decade, Jonathan has been committed to preserving the area’s climbing through hands-on stewardship projects, land manager partnerships, and volunteer service on the board of Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA). Jonathan has served as a board member or volunteer for SLCA since the organization began in 2002, and continues to guide their policy and conservation work. His many years of work at numerous little-known local areas, as well as major, renowned areas such as American Fork, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Joe’s Valley have secured and sustained climbing access for Salt Lake City’s active and growing climbing community. Jonathan’s unwavering dedication to the cause of climbing access is an inspiration to Salt Lake City climbers and a model for the area’s climbing stewards. Thank you, Jonathan!
Bebie Leadership Award - Tim Keenan
Access Fund is proud to give Tim Keenan a Bebie Leadership Award. Tim is the Co-Chair of Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC) and an Access Fund Regional Coordinator. His proactive leadership of GCC has helped the organization grow its membership, host numerous Adopt a Crag events, and strengthen its partnerships with Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, and other key Gunks-area landowners. Recognizing the need for a new approach to stewardship education for new climbers, Tim created an exciting new educational program for new climbers transitioning to outdoor climbing from the gym. The Gym to Crag Transition program will help instill positive behaviors that preserve climbing access and the environment. Keep up the great work, Tim!
Sharp End Award - Marion Hutchison
It is Access Fund’s great honor to present Marion Hutchison with a Sharp End Award for his longstanding success and dedication to protecting climbing in Oklahoma. Marion’s activism began in the early 90s, when climbing access was threatened in Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. His work kept the area open, and initiated an early local climbing organization which soon became the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC). In 2001, with WMCC and Access Fund, Marion drove the purchase and transfer of Baldy Point to Quartz Mountain State Park, forever protecting the area’s climbing. Access Fund recognized Marion with a Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, though perhaps too soon because his work wasn’t done! In 2007, U.S. Fish and Wildlife revisited their management plan for the Wichita Refuge, and questioned whether rock climbing was a compatible use. Marion led a concerted, multi-year effort with WMCC and Access Fund, partnering with Refuge staff, state senators and representatives, and the climbing community to ensure climbing access was preserved in the Refuge. His successful effort once again preserved climbing in the Refuge, while also setting an important, positive precedent for other federal and state wildlife management areas across the country. Marion’s lifelong commitment to climbing advocacy is an inspiration to climbing advocates and organizations across the country.
Sharp End Award - Paul Vidal
Access Fund is thrilled to award Paul Vidal, past President of Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC), with a Sharp End Award for his leadership in protecting Red River Gorge climbing. Paul is a longtime volunteer and board member with RRGCC, diligently working to preserve climbing on public and private lands in the Red. He’s spent countless hours helping to organize trail days, put on RRGCC’s annual Rocktoberfest, meet with land managers, and build positive relationships with the local residents and businesses. In 2012, the same year that RRGCC successfully paid off their more than 750-acre Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, Paul spearheaded the Miller Fork acquisition, working with local landowners and Access Fund to negotiate RRGCC’s successful purchase of the new Miller Fork Recreational Preserve. The Preserve encompasses 309 acres and protects climbing access to miles of sandstone cliff line. Thank you, Paul!
Sharp End Award - Jeff Engel
Access Fund is honored to present Jeff Engel with a Sharp End Award for decades of committed climbing advocacy and stewardship in Minnesota and surrounding areas. In the 90s Jeff and other local climbers were instrumental in keeping climbing areas like Red Wing and Willow River open to climbing. He later worked with the City of Sandstone to open Robinson Park to rock and ice climbing, helping turn the area into a Midwestern ice destination. In 2012, Jeff initiated the purchase of a 108-acre tract of private land containing some of the finest sandstone boulders in the Midwest—a bouldering area known as Sandstone. His proactive work brought the private landowners, Minnesota Climbers Association, Access Fund, Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources together to purchase the property for transfer to Minnesota State Parks. Congratulations, Jeff!
Sharp End Award - Jason Haas
The Access Fund honors Jason Haas for his leadership in protecting climbing access along the Colorado Front Range. Jason volunteers as a board member with the Flatirons Climbing Council and Boulder Climbing Community, dedicating his time to stewardship projects, access issues, and fixed anchor replacement. As an avid first ascentionist and founder of the guidebook company Fixed Pin Publishing, his positive work extends into the South Platte, home of his most recent climbing obsessions. Most recently, Jason played a critical role in partnering with a landowner at Thunder Ridge to educate climbers about access. His proactive stewardship work can be seen at other local crags such as Clear Creek Canyon and Golden Cliffs. Thanks for your work, Jason!
Sharp End Award - Rocco Bocchicchio
The Access Fund is proud to present Rocco Bocchicchio with a Sharp End award for his dedicated work educating climbers on Leave No Trace ethics and promoting the Access Fund at gyms across the country. Rocco is a La Sportiva athlete that currently works as the Head Instructor at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) indoor climbing facilities. There, he created a program that allows climbers to become members of the Access Fund alongside their gym memberships. He also championed ethical climbing education alongside climbing instruction courses at BKB gyms, helping to create a new generation of climbers in the Northeast that understand how their behavior impacts access to climbing areas. Rocco also guides at Hueco Tanks every season and includes climbing ethics education in his tours. Thanks for your dedication, Rocco!
Sharp End Award - Torne Valley Climbers Coalition
Access Fund is pleased to recognize the Torne Valley Climbers Coalition (TVCC) for their exemplary grassroots organizing and advocacy which successfully reopened the Powerlinez climbing area in Torne Valley, New York. Powerlinez was closed in 2011 due to concerns about increased climbing use from the area’s multiple landowners. A core team of individuals formed TVCC and began working with the local climbing community and Powerlinez’ three landowners. Each TVCC leader brought important skills to bear on the effort. TVCC’s patient, professional, and cooperative approach reopened Powerlinez in 2013 and serves as a model for successful grassroots climbing advocacy. Congratulations, TVCC!
Sharp End Award – Petzl
The Access Fund is honored to present Petzl with a Sharp End Award for their many years of support and commitment to preserving and protecting the climbing environment. A generous supporter of the Access Fund since our grassroots beginnings, Petzl has helped the Access Fund grow stronger and expand our advocacy and land acquisition programs. As one of the original investors in the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, Petzl has helped the Access Fund purchase 14 climbing areas since 2009. Petzl has also hosted the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Moab for past 10 years, donating all proceeds to the Access Fund. We applaud Petzl for their continued dedication to protecting America's climbing.
Land Conservation Award - Minnesota Climbers Association
The Access Fund is excited to present Minnesota Climbers Association (MCA) with a Land Conservation Award for its dedication to protecting the Sandstone bouldering area. MCA originally partnered with the landowner to allow climbing, but access was threatened when the property was listed for sale in 2012. MCA immediately stepped up and the landowners gave MCA an opportunity to purchase the property. MCA found a great local partner, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota (PTCM), to purchase and hold the property for transfer to Minnesota State Parks. Access Fund was proud to grant a $5,000 award and provide fundraising assistance to help MCA and PTCM raise $30,000 in just 6 months. We congratulate MCA on their success and look forward to securing long-term protection of the area with MCA, PTCM, and Minnesota State Parks!
Castle Crags Protected!
A unique alliance between a land trust, three timber companies, the climbing community and the Forest Service has resulted in permanent protection of the beloved Castle Crags area in central California, a rock climbing destination and an important water source for the citizens of California.
Two square miles of land adjacent to the Castle Crags State Park and Federal Wilderness were acquired by the Wilderness Land Trust this week by sale from Roseburg Forest Products. As a result of the acquisition, over 1,250 acres will be eventually transferred to the USDA-Forest Service for inclusion in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Funding for the transaction was provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, along with the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign and The Conservation Alliance.
Eagles and other raptors frequently soar by the Crags, which contain world-class climbing opportunities. In the forest surrounding the Crags, almost 1,000 acres of mature timber also now stand protected. The property is located south of Dunsmuir and Mount Shasta, just off Interstate 5, from which the Crags are clearly visible. Little Castle Creek provides spawning habitat for trout and fishing opportunities and it flows to the Sacramento River, providing clean water throughout California via the Sacramento River Delta.
“Roseburg recognized there was a higher and better use for this land and was happy to make the sale. It maintains a long tradition of active community support for conservation and recreation efforts.” said Scott Folk, Vice-President of Resources at Roseburg.
“These parcels were a better fit with the public lands in the area,” said Arne Hultgren, Resource Manager with Roseburg.
The transaction culminated two years of collaboration between Roseburg and the Trust. In addition, Sierra-Pacific Industries and Kimberly-Clark Corporation assisted in the disposition of legacy mineral and access issues.
Other partners critical to the success of the project were local climbers and businesses. The Crags contain over 20 challenging climbing routes as recently detailed in the Castle Crags section of “Mount Shasta Area Rock Climbing—A Climber’s Guide to Siskiyou County” by Grover Shipman.
“The land contains 360 acres of the Crags--dramatic rock outcrops with amazing views that also are part of local history—the Wintu Tribe fought and died to protect it and still come for spiritual healing and guidance and to collect plants for medicinal purposes,” said Aimee Rutledge, the Wilderness Land Trust’s California Program Manager.
“We are extremely gratified to protect this iconic land providing clean water, trout habitat and recreational access, and to enable the addition of this land to the Castle Crags Wilderness for future generations,” said Reid Haughey, President of the Trust.
Ranging from the bottom of Little Castle Creek to the top of Castle Crags, the area has few developed trails, the primary one accessing Castle Dome. Local groups like the Mount Shasta Trail Association have proposed building an Around-the-Crags Trail at some time in the future. Views of both Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen abound from the Castle Crags Wilderness.
"The acquisition is a great example of a large-scale win-win for conservation, cultural resources, and recreation, including access to incredible wilderness climbing," says Joe Sambataro, the Access Fund’s Access Director. "We are delighted to play a supporting role in assisting the Trust."
“We are proud to be a part of the effort to increase the protected acreage at Castle Crags, and to improve access to this special place,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor industry companies that work together to support conservation initiatives. “Our member companies benefit when outdoor recreation is more accessible.”
Access Fund Brings Climbers Together for Two-Day Educate for Access Summit
Over the Halloween weekend, the Access Fund brought together 46 members of the climbing community in the Gunks to address the increasing need for climber education as it relates to environmental impacts and outdoor ethics.
Throughout the US, the increase in climbing’s popularity is beginning to stress our climbing resources. Issues like human waste, erosion, vegetation loss, and user conflicts are being noticed by landowners, environmental groups, and many local climbers.
Over the course of the two-day summit, the Access Fund brought together experts from the climbing community, climbing gyms, academia, and guide services to begin discussing these issues and generate strategies for educating climbers on minimum impact.
The Access Fund is committed to playing a lead role in climber education and will be taking the lessons learned from the Educate for Access summit and putting them together into a cohesive, obtainable, and strategic plan for the future.
CAMP Gear Grant Winner Announced
Congratulations to Jeanette Strother, Access Fund Birthdays fundraiser and winner of the $50 CAMP Gear Grant for the third quarter! Jeanette dedicated her birthday to climbing access in September, and raised money from her family and friends.
“I decided to donate my birthday to climbing access because the work of the Access Fund is critical to the future of climbing in the US,” says Jeanette. “The combination of legal action, fundraising, and community involvement is a very effective way to make sure that climbing areas remain open, accessible, and sustainable for future years and generations of climbers.”
Jeanette is looking to get more experience aiding big walls, and plans to use the CAMP Gear Grant to invest in aid gear. Every fundraiser who raises money through an Access Fund Birthdays campaign is automatically eligible for the grant, and we will be selecting one more winner in 2013, so it’s not too late to register!
Pledge your birthday!
Colorado’s Gold Butte Opens to Public Access
Gold Butte, a pinnacle of Entrada sandstone just outside Aspen, Colorado, was once a popular spot with local climbers in the 1970s, but the private landowners closed it to public access in 1983.
The Access Fund has been working with local climbers and Pitkin County Open Space and Trails to acquire the property, advise on risk management, and develop a climbing management plan for the area. We are happy to report that the County has successfully completed the purchase, and Gold Butte is now open to the climbing public.
Access Fund sincerely thanks local climber Bob Wade of the Ute Mountaineer for his local leadership in spearheading this effort.
Get more information, including a free online guide!
Historic Indian Rock Bouldering Area Gets a Makeover
Last month, nearly 30 volunteers set out to give the historic Indian Rock in the Berkeley Hills, California a facelift.
Many famous climbers like Steve Roper, Royal Robbins, and Galen Rowell cut their teeth at the famous Bay Area bouldering spot, and it continues to be a beloved area for locals. However it was suffering from eroding trails and landing areas, as well as an overload of trash and broken glass.
Local climbers organized a two-day Adopt a Crag event, in partnership with the City of Berkeley, the Access Fund, and the local climbing gyms – Great Western Power Company and Ironworks. Over the course of two days, volunteers removed about eight cubic yards of dirt, rubble, glass, and trash, as well as laid down new wood chips in the climbing areas, rebuilt retaining walls, and cleared paths.
This project helped strengthen relationships between climbers and the City of Berkeley, as well as residents of the Berkeley Hills neighborhood.
Ohio Climbers Coalition Newest Joint Member Affiliate
We are pleased to welcome Ohio Climbers Coalition (OCC) as the Access Fund’s newest joint member affiliate. The OCC is devoted to opening and preserving access to climbing areas throughout Ohio. OCC recently completed a successful Adopt a Crag at Cuyhoga Valley National Park. They are hosting another Adopt a Crag this weekend in partnership with Cleveland Metro Parks. The Access Fund is excited to expand our partnership with OCC to include joint membership. You can now join both organizations at the same time, with a single membership—benefits from both organizations for the cost of one! Joint membership starts at just $35.
Summit Rock Opens to Climbing After 5-Year Closure
In early October, Sanborn County re-opened Summit Rock in the Bay Area of California after 5 years of closure. The year-round closure was sparked by concerns over nesting peregrine falcons and other management challenges that come with a forested urban park, such as night-time partying and vandalism.
The Access Fund, our Regional Coordinator Paul Minault, and numerous local climbers have been working with the County to address these challenges. Generous financial support from Planet Granite Climbing Yoga & Fitness helped fund an expert raptor biologist to advise the County and demonstrate that climbing, when done outside of the standard seasonal nesting period, will not disrupt the raptors. Local climbers also stepped up to volunteer with the County's peregrine falcon monitoring program, which is paramount to keeping the area open in future years.
Climbing is now open seasonally on weekends under a free permit system that limits access to 35 people per day. To receive a free permit via email, call the Parks Department reservation line at (408) 355-2201.
New Study Shows Climbers are Main Recreational Users of Boulder Canyon
Boulder Climbing Community and the Access Fund announce the release of a Boulder Canyon User Study facilitated by Travis Flohr of University of Colorado Denver. The study ran from May 2012 to October 2013 to document climbing activities in Boulder Canyon.
Boulder Canyon, located in Boulder County, Colorado, comprises an approximately 15-mile long corridor from west to east. Land ownership in this area is a mix of National Forest, county, city, and private lands. The canyon provides a wide array of recreation opportunities for rock climbing, fishing, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking and scenic driving. The 1,500 routes, extensive variety, and great scenery make Boulder Canyon one of the most popular climbing areas in the state.
Based on the study, the estimated number of climber visits per year within Boulder Canyon is between 32,000 and 43,000. Out of a total of 472 observed canyon users during the observation period, 309 were climbers, or 65%, making climbers the largest documented user group in Boulder Canyon. The study also showed that the busiest and most popular climbing areas, in order include: Animal World, Avalon, and Castle Rock. Summer and fall are the most frequent climbing seasons, with trad climbing and sport climbing making up the majority of use. According to the study, the high-use areas are also the areas with the most observed erosion on approach routes, parking areas, base areas, and descent routes. This is likely due to climbers’ foot traffic causing erosion and vegetation damage in areas where there aren’t adequate access trails.
“This study is an important step in the formation of a stewardship coalition for Boulder Canyon,” says Joe Sambataro, Access Director of the Access Fund. Due to the complexity of land ownership, there are currently no uniform or comprehensive climbing management plans in Boulder Canyon. In order to protect access for all users, Boulder Climbing Community and the Access Fund are calling for an increased investment in sustainable management. “By showing the different needs and impacts of climbing activities in the canyon, the study provides a valuable data point to encourage cooperation amongst all involved stakeholders to help identify priorities for future stewardship.”
“Climbers are not merely users of the land,” says Roger Briggs, Operations Manager of the Boulder Climbing Community. “We encourage climbers to minimize their impacts when climbing, but also to be actively involved as stewards in cooperation with land owners and agencies.” Most recently, Boulder Climbing Community, Action Committee for Eldorado, Flatirons Climbing Council, and local climbers have been tirelessly volunteering on restoration of local trails damaged in September’s severe flooding. “It is great to see climbers giving back to the lands where they climb,” says Roger Briggs.
About the Boulder Canyon User Study
The purpose of the study was to provide information on climbing activities to local land agencies and local nonprofit organizations to help inform and prioritize future stewardship projects as part of a larger Boulder Canyon Stewardship Coalition. The author is Travis Flohr, who is currently pursuing a Design and Planning PhD in the sustainability and healthy environments track at the University of Colorado Denver. The study analyzed 524 online user studies, 25 car counts at major pullouts throughout the canyon, 8 additional user surveys, and 5 user counts. The study can serve as a model for other dispersed recreation areas across the country and be improved upon to provide additional concrete results. For more information, see boulderclimbingcommunity.net.