Access Fund Secures Jailhouse Rock – Asks for Further Support 11/18/2010 The Access Fund is pleased to announce permanent access has been secured to Jailhouse Rock near Sonora, California through the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign. However more help is needed from the climbing community for long-term conservation.
While private landowners have historically allowed climbing at Jailhouse (named after a nearby state penitentiary), a recently approved subdivision which included the trailhead and initial approach trail threatened future access. Plans to further subdivide the land adjacent to Jailhouse in the coming years could have blocked access even further, since the trail would need to cross multiple new lots purchased by private landowners who may be less inclined to grant public access.
With the future access to Jailhouse at risk by a quickly approaching subdivision, local climber and long-time access supporter Tom Addison contacted the Access Fund and the landowner for help. After several months of working with the landowners, the Access Fund reached an agreement to protect Jailhouse Rock through a complex conservation development partnership. A short-term $100,000 Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign loan will secure a conservation and access easement, ensuring permanent protection and access to Jailhouse Rock. Local climber and investor Steve Russell is giving his support by providing short-term capital to the Land Conservation Campaign for this project. However the Access Fund will need donor support for the access implementation and long-term conservation phase.
Jailhouse Rock boasts up to 200 feet of overhanging amphitheater on the western face of a basalt lava flow known locally as Table Rock. “For 12+ and harder routes, Jailhouse offers arguably the best winter stamina sport climbing in the West,” states Tom Addison, who has been climbing at Jailhouse Rock and maintaining positive relations with landowners since 1990.
Jailhouse Rock is a major resource for the Bay Area, Yosemite, and Sacramento climbing communities during the fall, winter, and spring months when other sport crags are covered in snow. “Jailhouse has been formative in my climbing,” says pro athlete Alex Honnold. “It has one of the best concentrations of hard routes in the country, as well as one of the best climates. You can climb there any day between September and June without even having to check the weather. It's an amazing crag.”
Although popular, climbers had previously kept a “no guidebook, no publicity” policy at the request of the private landowners. While this will no longer be a stringent policy, climbers are asked to respect the fact that Jailhouse is still on private land. While the Access Fund has secured a conservation easement to protect climbing access, it is more important than ever to maintain a good relationship with the landowners.
The work is far from over Although Jailhouse is now technically protected under a conservation easement, the current approach trail still crosses private land, which is up for sale. And the historical parking area is also subject to break-ins and misuse by non-climbers looking to access Tulloch Lake for partying or swimming.
The Access Fund has secured a route to the cliffs through a different access point, but it still needs your donations to secure the funding needed to build a new parking area with trailhead facilities, pay for the construction of a security gate, as well as cover legal, surveying, and other transactional costs.
Please give to the Unlock Jailhouse fund today (www.accessfund.org/jailhouse)! The Access Fund needs to raise $40,000 in the next 12 months to cover the expenses necessary to provide the new access point and protect and steward Jailhouse forever.
Access details The existing parking area and access trail will remain open for the immediate future. Once the new gate, parking area, and trailhead are funded and built, the old access route will be restored to natural conditions and closed. At that time, climbers will need a gate code to access the cliffs, since the area is leased for grazing horses. Stay tuned for updated access information, including the code and important conditions of access, www.accessfund.org.
Special thanks to the landowners, Marta and Steve Weinstein, who have graciously allowed climbing at Jailhouse for the last 12 years and will continue to own the property and work with climbers to ensure that Jailhouse Rock remains in its current and natural state. Without the local expertise, passion, and dedication of local climbers Tom Addison, Brian Poulsen, and Access Fund Regional Coordinator Paul Minault, this victory for the climbing community would not have been possible.
With little notice and no public input, the US Forest Service-owned Skull Hollow Campground near Smith Rock was closed on October 31st for five months. Your help is needed to keep Skull Hollow Campground open for Smith Rock climbers year-round.
Because the USFS failed to post no camping signs and failed to provide any public notice of the campground closure, the weekend of November 6-7 saw dozens of climbers camped just outside the closed gate. There was zero public input or consultation about the 5 month closure with local climbers or the Smith Rock Group who have historically helped to fund the pumping of the toilets and cleanup of the site.
After several calls and e-mails from local climbers, the local USFS office agreed (for this winter only) to keep the site open longer. However, the USFS only agreed to add the months of November and March on either side of a 3 months closure (Dec/Jan/Feb)—months when climbers typically frequent the campground.
Forest Service staff says that if they hear from enough people in support of keeping Skull Hollow open more of the year they might change the closure period. But they are about to sign a new 5-year contract with the campground host—so we need your comments as soon as possible!
Please use our easy letter-writing tool to urge the USFS to protect the camping opportunities at Skull Hollow.
In September we told you about potential drastic fee increases to climb Denali and Rainier. Since that time, the Access Fund has been working with partners American Mountain Guides Association and American Alpine Club to get a public process put in place to evaluate the current mountaineering programs and associated budgets to identify the best way to service climbers—and the appropriate fee levels. Both parks agreed to a public process and have announced a series of public meetings to discuss their mountaineering programs. These meetings will provide climbers the opportunity to discuss and understand aspects of the current climbing programs at Denali and Rainier and help the parks identify viable options for designing the programs and how to pay for them. Climbers are encouraged to attend.
Mount Rainier National Park will host public meetings at the following locations in late November and December:
Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 7-9 PM
2302 N. 30th St.
Tacoma, WA 98403-3323
Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 7-9 PM
Seattle Mountaineers Building
7700 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 7-9 PM
Mount Rainier National Park Education Center
55210 238th Ave. E.
Ashford, WA 98304
Denali National Park will host public meetings on their mountaineering and cost recovery program in Talkeetna and Anchorage in December and in Seattle and Denver early in January 2011. Dates and specific meeting locations will be announced in the near future on the Denali’s website at www.nps.gov/dena, or contact either Chief Park Ranger Peter Armington at (907.683.9521) or Public Affairs Officer Kris Fister (907.683.9583) for more information.
The public comment period for both Denali and Rainier started on November 1, 2010 and will continue through January 31, 2011. Email or write each park directly about their programs at the following addresses:
ATTN: Climbing Cost Recovery Fee
Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Ave. E.
Ashford, WA 98304
ATTN: Climbing Cost Recovery Fee
Denali National Park and Preserve
P.O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755
Over 80 land managers and climbers from around the United States gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Access Fund hosted National Climbing Management Summit. Federal land managers from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and US Forest Service outlined their management practices at climbing areas such as Yosemite, Red Rocks, the Black Canyon, Indian Creek, Denali National Park, and White Mountains National Forest. Together with climbers, the group tackled complicated climbing management issues related to cultural resources, fixed anchors, sensitive species, and wilderness designations.
With land management offices starved for resources, both human and financial, the easiest way to deal with management challenges like climbing is often to restrict access or just close the area down. This summit was meant to provide land managers with proven tactics to address common climbing management issues, bring consistency to policy and enforcement, and impose fewer unnecessary climbing restrictions.
“There are a lot of misperceptions out there that are tied to climbing issues,” says Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith. “With better communication, land managers will be more prepared to understand and meet climbing management challenges and be less reactive. Our hope was to provide them with a network of people to go to for solutions to climbing issues they might be experiencing.”
The group spent a day in the field at Red Rocks, observing climbers. The rest of the conference was spent on presentations and discussions related to climbing techniques, management best practices, and how climbers interact with the surrounding environment.
The Access Fund is working with its agency partners to create an online information center that will provide contact information for planning experts, model management plans, and other planning resources that will assist with solving future climbing policy challenges. Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition Preserves Access to Mother’s Buttress in Unaweep Canyon 10/15/2010 We are pleased to report that the Western Colorado Climber’s Coalition (WCCC) closed on the 13 acre Mother’s Buttress parcel in Unaweep Canyon, securing climbing access that was threatened by private property restrictions. The effort was made possible with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Access Fund, a $5,000 grant from REI, and donated services by Telluride surveyor Dave Foley, Grand Junction engineer Marc Kenney and Telluride attorney Steve Johnson, Western Colorado Regional Coordinator for the Access Fund, not to mention the dedication of the WCCC.
The granite cliffs of Unaweep are unique in the region, where most climbing venues are soft sandstone. Most of the climbing in Unaweep Canyon is on private property. About 20 years ago, the Access Fund and local climbers purchased a number of lots in the canyon to secure climbing access. Over time, some of these parcels changed hands or never had formal recreation or conservation easements that established climber access in perpetuity. Recently, a few of the parcels have come up for sale, leaving climbers scrambling to negotiate with the landowners or raise funds to purchase the cliffs outright.
“One of the major hurdles for us is that most climbers tend to be ‘rugged individualists’ and don’t have deep pockets or the inclination to be part of a team effort, even when our crags are at stake,” said Jesse Zacher, President of the WCCC.
Local climbers John and Marti Peterson heard about the threatened access to Mother’s Buttress and stepped forward to help. Having been involved in a climbing access negotiation in Connecticut prior to their move to Gunnison, the Peterson’s understood the importance of private citizens stepping up to ensure access. They agreed to purchase the parcel with a promise that the WCCC would raise funds to buy the cliffs from them. The Petersons are left with a home site with a beautiful crag in their backyard and a joint venture with local climbers to build a required driveway and parking area for climbing access.
The nearby Moab-based Friends of Indian Creek have donated a kiosk for the trailhead to educate visiting climbers about the Mothers Buttress partnership, Leave No Trace ethics, and club activities. The WCCC is working hard to engineer the driveway and parking area, and is seeking donations of culvert and pipe.
Neighboring crags are also for sale and interested investors are urged to contact the Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition to find our more information. http://westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com. Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) get permanent closure lifted at Poway Crags 10/14/2010 The quiet Poway Crags outside of San Diego has been re-opened to climbing after a 7 year closure—a big win for climbers in the area.
Poway Crags, offering quality routes up to 200 feet, was originally closed in 2003 due to a major wildfire. Signs were posted restricting the area for habitat restoration. Climbers respected the closure and the area fell quiet. Years later, after nature had healed itself, ACSD made contact with the City of Poway to gain official reinstatement of climbing access to the area.
Over the course of the next three years, ACSD worked with the City of Poway to find a climbing access strategy that would protect a golden eagle nest located in one of the Poway Crags climbing areas. The two organizations developed appropriate buffer zones and a seasonal restriction surrounding the nesting site.
The Poway Crags are now officially open to climbing. ACSD still has work ahead to keep the public informed about responsible recreation in an area with important nesting resources.
The Access Fund is proud of ACSD’s success—showing one more example of how responsible climbing is a compatible use in an open space habitat conservation area that is also home to an important species, such as the golden eagle. ACSD's good relationship with land managers of other local climbing resources was part of the key to enabling success at Poway Crags.
About Allied Climbers of San Diego ACSD is an environmentally responsible non-profit membership-based climbers' advocacy organization and an Access Fund Affiliate. Dedicated to promoting and maintaining access to climbing ACSD acts as a collective voice for balanced access rights of outdoor climbing enthusiasts in and surrounding the San Diego region. Access Fund Urges Support for Colorado Wilderness Proposals 9/30/2010
Today the Access Fund announced its support for two Colorado wilderness proposals: Congressman John Salazar’s San Juan Wilderness Act that would protect over 61,000 acres in San Juan, Ouray, and San Miguel Counties (also sponsored by Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet), and Congressman Jared Polis’s Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act proposal to designate 90,000 acres of public land in Summit and Eagle Counties as wilderness and special protection areas. Both proposed laws protect recreational access and respect private property rights.
These two bills (S. 2762/H.R. 3914 and H.R. 6280) are responsible measures that appropriately balance recreational access with conservation, and have received considerable vetting from climbers and Access Fund partners in the recreation and conservation communities. Climbers appreciate opportunities for recreation in wild backcountry locations in the San Juan Mountains and Eagle and Summit Counties and know how important it is to protect these unique landscapes. These bills will provide permanent protection for some of Colorado’s most renowned views and mountains, including the slopes of Mt. Sneffels, Wilson Peak, and Hoosier Ridge. The Access Fund urges all members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to support these vital conservation efforts and help pass this legislation.
“The Access Fund is happy to join with recreation and conservation groups across the state to support these public land conservation initiatives that preserve backcountry climbing and recreation opportunities,” says Access Fund’s Executive Director Brady Robinson. “We support all types of climbing experiences, from the remote wilderness peaks to urban crags and bouldering areas. The opportunity to climb in protected wilderness areas is a key value that many climbers cherish. We hope our Colorado membership will contact their federal legislators in support of these proposals.”
The Access Fund urges all Colorado residents to contact their congressional representatives with their support for the San Juan Wilderness Act and the Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act. You can find your US Senators and Representatives by entering your zip code here: www.accessfund.org/elected_officials.
The Access Fund is proud to support three projects with over $13,000 towards stewardship and start-up costs to complete the second round of the Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grant Program in 2010.
Southern Colorado CRAG – Organizational Start-up A grant was awarded to Southern Colorado CRAG (SoCo CRAG) to help cover start-up costs to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The Southern Colorado front range features numerous crags on private property. In their first year, SoCo CRAG has been highly active, improving and establishing positive relationships with landowners to protect threatened areas and to open new access. The organization’s 501(c)(3) status will help with fundraising and future land conservation projects.
Muir Valley Nature Preserve – Emergency Access and Maintenance Road Improvements
A grant was awarded to Muir Valley Nature Preserve to improve the emergency access and maintenance road, which was washed out by flash floods in recent years. The landowners, Rick and Liz Weber, invest substantial time and funding towards stewarding and maintaining this private preserve for public climbing access year after year. Road repairs are critical for ongoing public access and for providing rapid emergency response if a climber is injured. Friends of Muir Valley are matching funds with rescue equipment and volunteer labor.
Yosemite Climbing Association – 2010 Yosemite Facelift
The Yosemite Climbing Association (YCA) was awarded a grant to support stewardship efforts at the 2010 Yosemite Facelift. The 7th Annual Yosemite Facelift is scheduled September 22-26, attracting climbers from around California, the nation, and the world to pitch in during this important park-wide cleanup.
RE: Mountaineering Fees: Denali National Park & Preserve/Mount Rainier National Park
Dear Director Jarvis:
The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and American Mountain Guides Association recently became aware that Denali National Park & Preserve (Denali) intends, without public notice, to raise mountaineering fees 150% from $200 to $500 per climber. In addition, a steep increase for mountaineering fees (from $30 to $50 on top of camping fees) is proposed at Mount Rainier National Park (Rainier). In these tough economic times, these large fee increases will price Americans out of their own parks. We write today to protest these unnecessary and unfair mountaineering fee increases, and request information about National Park Service mountaineering programs and any associated budgeting and related costs to better understand the need to raise these already disproportionate recreation fees.
We are particularly troubled that these fee increases did not receive the benefit of public input and the National Park Service failed to even consult with its long-time partners at the Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association. We request that any proposals to increase mountaineering fees at Denali or Rainier be analyzed through a range of alternatives and benefit from an open public process with published information about the need and purpose for an increased fee.
Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association
The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and American Mountain Guides Association are national climbing advocacy organizations dedicated to climbing access, conservation, advancing the climbing way of life, and advocating for American climbers. These national climbing organization each have a long history of working with the National Park Service, including input on the 2006 revision to the NPS Management Policies, comment letters on hundreds of local management plans around the country, rescue cost-recovery and recreation impact studies, grants and many thousands of volunteer hours in support education and stewardship projects, field training and climbing management conferences, and congressional advocacy urging robust funding for National Park Service operations. We have also long worked collaboratively with the National Park Service and dozens of other national parks around the country on climbing management planning initiatives and stewardship projects. For more about us, see www.accessfund.org, www.americanalpineclub.org, and http://amga.com/.
The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, American Mountain Guides Association are your best partners with respect to the education of mountaineers, public support for your management goals and programs, and the fulfillment of your obligation to provide unique mountaineering opportunities in the parks. However, these fee increases were proposed without input from the mountaineering community despite our expertise and affiliation with this specific user group (mountaineers). Denali’s plan to raise mountaineering fees from $200 to $500 reflects an unprecedented increase, is not based on need, and unfairly targets climbers. Moreover, simply raising fees 150% without public input during these tough economic times is shocking and is likely to result in lower numbers of Americans able to afford the unique mountaineering experiences found at Denali. This extraordinary mountaineering fee increase is a national issue and we believe that Denali managers may simply be unfairly shifting more of the burden of the park’s budget onto climbers. We’re also skeptical that the current fee level for mountaineering is warranted. Rainier’s fee increase appears similarly unjustified. We fear that these added costs will make the unique mountaineering opportunities available at Denali and Rainier too expensive for many Americans.
So we can better understand the National Park Service’s specific management challenges related to mountaineering (and thus inform our members and the public generally), we request your cooperation in providing us with as much information as possible related to mountaineering programs and any associated plans or programs at both Denali and Rainier. To that end, we request the following information from these two parks:
§ Any costs, expenses, and budgeting documentation, correspondence or related information (including years) concerning the mountaineering programs (or other park operations affecting climbing management) at Denali and Rainier, specifically:
- Search and rescue and any emergency medical services
- Visitor use statistics (numbers, categories and attributes of park users
- General park operations and law enforcement
- Visitor and resource protection
§ Any National Park Service records or correspondence related to the establishment and maintenance of the current mountaineering fee at Denali and Rainier national parks.
§ Any National Park Service records or correspondence related to any proposals to increase the mountaineering fee at Denali and Rainier national parks.
§ All public or individual notices provided by the National Park Service concerning the preparation of any management plans or policies that have any proposals or influence on recreation fees at Denali and Rainier national parks.
We will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request to both Denali and Rainier to obtain the information outlined above. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact any of us at your convenience. We look forward to working with the National Park Service to preserve the world-class mountaineering opportunities found at Denali and Rainier national parks.
Thank you for your assistance.
American Alpine Club
American Mountain Guides Association
The Honorable Patty Murray, US Senate
The Honorable Maria Cantwell, US Senate
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, US Senate
The Honorable Mark Begich, US Senate
The Honorable Don Young, US House of Representatives
The Honorable Dave Reichert, US House of Representatives
US Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
US Senate National Parks Subcommittee
US House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
US House of Representatives National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee
Will Shafroth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, US Interior Department
Garry Oye, Chief of Wilderness Stewardship & Recreation Management, National Park Service
Rick Potts, Chief of Conservation & Outdoor Recreation Division, National Park Service
Paul Anderson, Superintendent, Denali National Park
Dave Uberuaga, Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park
Mike Gauthier, Liaison to the National Park Service, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, US Interior Department
Since 2004, the AngelesNational Forest has banned climbing at Williamson Rock due to conflicts with critical habitat of the endangered Mountain Yellow Legged Frog. A 2009 wildfire complicated matters further when portions of the forest, including the frog’s critical habitat, were burned. AngelesNational Forest recently proposed extending the current closure at Williamson Rock for three more years to continue monitoring the endangered frog species. According to the AngelesNational Forest, this action is needed “while neighboring [mountain yellow-legged frog] population segments are given time to rebound from the effects of wildfire and consequent watershed emergency.”
The Access Fund and our partners, Friends of Williamson Rock and Allied Climbers of San Diego, are working to assess whether the extended closure is warranted and to ensure that the US Forest Service study alternate approach trails to the popular crag that would allow climbing access and also protect sensitive wildlife habitat.
Please take a moment to show your support by urging the US Forest Service to study alternate approach trails to Williamson Rock.
Your comments, which must be submitted by October 1st, may be sent to:
Southeastern Climbers Coalition Pays Back its AFLCC Loan for Steele 8/13/2010 Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) paid back its loan for the Steele cliff line to the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign (AFLCC) last week, making it the second loan to fully revolve back into the program. The early payment comes just a month after Washington Climbers Coalition’s repayment, further proving the efficacy of the AFLCC to provide local climbing organizations the short-term capital necessary to secure climbing resources.
The $20,000 loan facilitated the SCC’s purchase of a 29-acre tract in Steele, Alabama in September of 2009. The property provides access, parking, and a central piece of cliff line that was closed to climbing since 1987. SCC raised a large portion of the $55,000 purchase price for Steele, with the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign loan giving the financial support to close on the property, as well as seek adjacent cliff line. “The funds gave us the extra cushion in the final days to go ahead and proceed with the Steele purchase. We look forward to our next project together with the Access Fund,” says SCC’s Brad McLeod.
SCC continues its mission of opening new areas and permanently protecting threatened favorites in the Southeast. Just last month, Access Fund and SCC partnered up for a week of site visits in Alabama and Tennessee, exploring potential projects and solutions to pressing access issues. The Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign can be a critical resource in helping protect these properties, offering financing and acquisition expertise. Vermont's Carcass Crag Acquired! 8/13/2010
CRAG-VT is thrilled to announce the acquisition of one of Vermont’s best sport climbing cliffs: the Carcass Crag! This winter, CRAG-VT signed a purchase and sale agreement to annex the cliff through a boundary line adjustment on their Bolton Quarry climbing area. With the support of the Access Fund and local climbers, CRAG-VT completed the land purchase in early July. This acquisition adds three additional acres of rock to the Bolton Quarry property and permanently secures public access the cliff. It is the fourth property that CRAG-VT has acquired to ensure public access to climbing and the preservation of the natural environment.
In Vermont, many cliffs are on private land; a fact that presents persistent access challenges to local climbers. To minimize the likelihood of closure by landowners, climbing at the Carcass and several other crags has been a closely guarded secret for nearly a decade. Recognizing the importance of the cliff and the access challenges certain to ensue when the word got out, CRAG-VT decided to be proactive. They approached the landowners, explained the situation, and were able to secure an agreement to buy the cliff. Now that access is permanently secured, CRAG-VT and the Access Fund have opened the door for climbers to enjoy this great place.
Derek Doucet was possibly the first to envision potential of this imposing cliff when he discovered it by accident in the winter of 1998. Doucet had been climbing ice in the Quarry and was preparing to leave when his Black Lab, Auggie went missing. A prolonged search turned up Auggie with his head and shoulders buried in a rotting deer carcass, tail wagging ecstatically. Doucet looked up to see the crag whose name will forever memorialize the hapless deer. That spring, Doucet brought Dave Furman to the cliff and Furman soon established Who’s Your Daddy (5.12c), the Carcass’s mega-classic line. The ‘Daddy was a revelation to the backwater tradsters of Chittenden county; it was a phenomenal route that immediately revealed the potential of sport climbing in Vermont and kicked off the flurry of new route development that defined the following decade. After Furman’s contribution it wasn’t long before other climbers were inspired to put up other great climbs like Alternative Power (5.12a), Worthless Stud (5.11d) and Progress (5.11a)—every route tackling the ominous overhang half-way up the cliff.
Completion of this acquisition was only possible with the effort and support of many people. CRAG-VT would like to thank Dr. Richard Katzman for his level head and diplomacy; Vermont climbers for their tireless enthusiasm; and the Access Fund for their generous grant and continued support.
We need your help to restore the unique wilderness climbing opportunities found only in Arches National Park!
In 2006, the National Park Service banned the use of fixed anchors after the Delicate Arch controversy and effectively banned climbing on many of the Park's historic towers. The restriction they placed on permanent climbing hardware was a reaction to a random controversy and not a planning process that demonstrated a need to limit these necessary climbing tools.
Currently, Arches National Park is developing a Climbing and Canyoneering Plan that will consider various management scenarios for climbing in Arches including fixed anchors, new routes via permit, access trails, resource protection, group sizes, and commercial guiding.
Help us urge park planners to protect the historic and unique climbing opportunities at Arches National Park by using our letter-writing tool. The Park Service is looking for your unique thoughts on how to balance climbing with wilderness character and park resources.
In light of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Congress is looking to invest $900 million each year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – a fund set up in 1965 to reinvest some of the wealth from offshore drilling into conservation and recreation.
The LWCF is the most effective funding mechanism available to Congress to expand and improve opportunities for human-powered outdoor pursuits like climbing. And with our new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, we are positioned to take full advantage of this funding to protect climbing lands on a scale like never before.
Congress plans to take this legislation up this week. Please take action and write your Senators and Representatives today using our easy-to-use advocacy tool!
In the spring of 2009, the Access Fund loaned the WCC $15,000 to secure an 18-month option agreement to protect the Lower Index Town Wall and surrounding crags from a quarrying operation. The option agreement protected the area while the WCC worked to raise the $300,000 needed to purchase and steward the 20-acre tract of land.
Over the last year and a half, climbers from all over the nation worked together to raise the funds to purchase the Lower Index Town Wall—fundraising through bouldering competitions, slideshows, and major donor requests. “The community response has been incredible,” says Jonah Harrison of the WCC. “The challenge with Index was not, as we had originally thought, getting people together to work and donate to the cause. It was how to channel all the talent, enthusiasm, and funds people offered.” We are happy to report that WCC has nearly reached its fundraising goal and is well positioned to purchase the property before the December 31, 2010 deadline.
The WCC submitted its final loan repayment to the Access Fund on June 22, 2010—returning the original $15,000 to the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign where it will be loaned back out to save other climbing areas. “It has been exciting to work so closely with the WCC and see the AFLCC’s first loan fully revolve back into the fund,” states the Access Fund’s Joe Sambataro.
The WCC is still working to reassign the land to a climber friendly public owner (such as Washington State Parks or the County), to secure access across the railroad tracks, and to find a suitable location for parking improvements and toilet facilities. With each step, the WCC is closer to securing permanent access for future generations of climbers.
Encouraging News for Climbing Access in Yosemite 6/11/2010 In January we asked for your help to write Yosemite National Park urging them to protect and enhance climbing opportunities in the latest Merced River Plan (MRP), which looked like it could limit public access to climbing and camping in Yosemite Valley depending on how the Park prepares its user capacity program. Climbs in the planning area include The Rostrum, Cookie Cliff, and Middle Cathedral Rock (everything ¼ mile on either side of the river). This plan will also affect all travel through the management area to locations just outside the river corridor, which brings into play all climbing in Yosemite Valley including El Capitan and even Half Dome.
The park recently announced in its “Outstanding Remarkable Value” report that it recognizes the recreational significance of Yosemite Valley, and specifically acknowledges climbing as an active pursuit that draws people from around the world. This is important because climbing as an activity is now more likely to be “protected and enhanced” rather than restricted.
The Park will hold public workshops and roundtables on their draft “Outstanding Remarkable Value” report, which will include discussions with Yosemite planners and user capacity experts.
Discussion with Yosemite subject matter and user capacity experts
SanRamonCity Council Chamber 925/973-2500
2228 Camino Ramon, San Ramon, CA
Last fall we asked climbers to comment on a master plan for Minnewaska State Park Preserve, and urge park planners to consider climbing opportunities in the Park. The initial draft plan would have banned climbing throughout most of the park despite the presence of many high quality crags. See our comments here. Last spring we also asked you to write New York State legislators and advocate for preserving funding for state parks like Minnewaska.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) just released the final Master Plan for Minnewaska and unlike the restrictive draft plan, the final plan directs that a climbing management plan will be developed for the Preserve indicating areas suitable and unsuitable for rock climbing. Given the current budget constants, as well as the agency’s various mandates, this plan is about as good as the climbing community could have realistically hoped for and it’s good news that Minnewaska will now consider future climbing opportunities throughout most of the park subject to environmental study. While the plan is still flawed (ice climbing will remain banned and OPRHP will exclude the entire Palmaghatt Ravine from the future climbing management plan) climbers should also be encouraged by the fact that the Master Plan elevates a future climbing management plan into the list of “Priority 1” projects for the park and thus should receive funding sooner than later. We applaud OPRHP and Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) for listening to the climbing community and considering new environmentally responsible climbing opportunities.
Since 1991, the Access Fund has supported 39 acquisitions of climbing areas in the United States. Six of those projects have been direct acquisitions by the Access Fund Land Foundation, a separate entity set up two decades ago to hold title of land and easements, while offering the Access Fund liability protection.
Throughout the 1990s, the Access Fund Land Foundation was an important conservation tool, allowing the Access Fund to purchase and transfer climbing resources at Rumney in New Hampshire and Shelf Road in Colorado. The Access Fund Land Foundation has also been used to hold threatened properties in Colorado, including property in Unaweep Canyon, Golden Cliffs Preserve on North Table Mountain, and Society Turn Crag outside Telluride. It also held a conservation easement at Handley Rock outside San Francisco.
Earlier this year, members of the board of directors from both organizations made the unanimous decision to dissolve the Access Fund Land Foundation and transfer all holdings to the Access Fund. This simplified organizational model will reduce administrative burdens, speed up land transactions, and maximize the effectiveness of the Access Fund’s private land protection efforts.
The Access Fund will continue to support local climbing organizations with acquisitions under the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, which provides short-term financing, transactional expertise, and land management advice. However, for critical projects outside the reach of an existing local climbing organization, the Access Fund can now pursue temporary acquisitions when important climbing resources are imminently threatened.
This change will also enable the Access Fund to steward properties in compliance with Land Trust Standards and Practices. Since the dissolution of the Access Fund Land Foundation, the Access Fund has developed land management plans for its holdings in Unaweep Canyon, Golden Cliffs, and Society Turn Crag to ensure sustainable recreational use of these open space areas. Volunteer Land Stewards have been put into place in each area to help monitor and steward each of these properties.
The Access Fund announced today that it will provide Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition with short-term financing to pay off the current seller-financed loan on the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge.
The Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve is a classic Red River Gorge destination, hosting more than 500 climbs, ranging from 5.4 to 5.14c, and new climbs constantly being discovered and developed. The steep, beautiful sandstone walls are overhanging and pocketed and offer technical, dynamic, and endurance climbing. The property hosts several hundred climbers each weekend, with the three parking lots often reaching capacity by noon.
A $65,000 loan will be supplied by the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, a revolving loan program that provides local climbing organizations with the funds and expertise needed to act quickly to save threatened climbing areas. The Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition purchased the property in January of 2004, making it the largest direct land acquisition to date by rock climbers.
Through aggressive fundraising and two grants from the Access Fund, the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition has paid down a significant portion of the original loan. By refinancing the remainder of the loan under the Access Fund’s new program, the Coalition will save approximately $10,000 in interest and fees that can be invested in other projects that benefit the Red River Gorge climbing community. The refinance will also eliminate the risk of losing the property to a private third-party, since a missed annual payment under the previous seller-financed loan would have returned the property to the seller and the funds raised by climbers would have been lost.
The refinance deal will set aside approximately $15,000 for land management costs of the Pendergrass-Murray property, as well as funds to allow RRGCC to pursue more climbing areas in the region.
This is the fifth Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign project, with active loans totaling over $200,000. Of these funds, $17,000 has been paid back, returning funds to the revolving loan program to be invested into other climbing conservation efforts by local climbing organizations and the Access Fund. For more informaiton, visit
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