The Access Fund announced today the winners of its 2010 Sharp End Awards. Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals 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.
Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award – Rick “Rico” Thompson We are proud to recognize Rico Thompson with the Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award, a special honor given to lifelong activists of climbing access. Rico’s service to the climbing community pre-dates the Access Fund and spans the nation. As a co-founding board member, Rico helped move the newly formed Access Fund from a volunteer-run group to a fully staffed national organization leading the way to keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment. Serving as the AF’s first-ever National Access & Acquisition Director, he played a central role in hundreds of access victories, including the purchase and transfer of the parking area and trailhead at Rumney, New Hampshire to the USFS; the acquisition of Society Turn Crag and Golden Cliffs Preserve in Colorado; the acquisition and transfer of Shelf Road’s Cactus Cliff to the BLM; and the formation of Castle Rock State Park in Idaho. Throughout the 1990s, Rico organized the AF’s National Trails Initiative with legendary trail guru Jim Angell. From 1994 through 2010 Rico served as President of the Access Fund Land Foundation (AFLF) and worked closely with the Access Fund board and staff to transition AFLF holdings to the Access Fund for future management and protection. He continues to serve as Regional Coordinator for the Colorado Front Range, and we are honored to continue working with one of the nation’s key figures in climbing activism and conservation for many more years to come.
Bebie Leadership Award – Tom Addison Access Fund is honored to recognize Tom Addison for his outstanding leadership in protecting Jailhouse Rock in Sonora California. He has maintained positive relationships between climbers and landowners of Jailhouse Rock since the 1990s, working with multiple owners, the county, and the climbing community to address their concerns. With the new subdivision going through in 2010, Tom contacted the Access Fund and played a critical role in working with the landowner to ensure permanent access for climbers. With the conservation and access easements secured, Addison is leading the way to locally fundraise for the Unlock Jailhouse campaign. Tom started working on access issues in the 1980’s at Farley Ledge in Western Massachusetts and has been an Access Fund member since 1992. For over twenty years, Tom has worked to keep crags open in Stanislaus National Forest and the Sonora area.
Reese Martin Award – Jim Pinter-Lucke We are proud to recognize Access Fund Southern California Regional Coordinator Jim Pinter-Lucke as the recipient of the 2010 Reese Martin Award for the leadership and support he has given to climbing areas all over Southern California. Jim came on board with the Access Fund in 2008 and has worked nonstop on a long list of efforts to conserve and protect climbing areas, including organizing two Adopt a Crags each year at Tahquitz and Suicide to rehabilitate trails and install climber trail signs, driving five to eight hours from LA to support Adopt a Crags in Bishop CA and Yosemite, supporting the Friends of Williamson Rock at U.S. Forest Service meetings, and representing the Access Fund at many events. In 2010 Jim successfully launched a new local climbing organization, the Idyllwild Climbers Association. Over the past two years Jim’s passion to protect and preserve climbing areas in Southern California has made a great impact. We look forward to working with Jim for many years to come.
Sharp End Award – Jeff Brown We are proud to present a Sharp End Award to Jeff Brown, founder of the Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) and a tireless advocate for balancing the interests of climbers with other land values and user groups. Jeff’s efforts have led to more targeted and less restrictive raptor closures in the Cleveland National Forest, greater understanding and compliance within the climbing community of land manager rules and obligations, and significant progress on other access issues in the southern California region. Always quick to point out that ACSD has been a group effort, Jeff has nonetheless been the single greatest force to bring the San Diego climbing community together to work for the common good. Though he recently stepped away from his formal leadership role in ACSD, his legacy will live on through the organization’s continued success. Thank you, Jeff!
Sharp End Award – Bryan Pletta We are excited to honor Bryan Pletta, president of the New Mexico Climbers Resource and Advocacy Group (CRAG) and owner of Albuquerque’s Stone Age Climbing Gym with a Sharp End Award for his leadership in the New Mexico climbing community. Also a longtime Access Fund Regional Coordinator, Bryan has organized many Adopt a Crag projects to build and repair climbing area trails throughout New Mexico and has worked proactively to maintain positive landowner relations to preserve climbing access at Datil/Enchanted Tower. This past year Bryan met with local climbers and the U.S. Forest Service to address a wilderness fixed anchors controversy and negotiate a compromise. Bryan’s dedicated and diplomatic leadership has been a key asset to New Mexico climbers for years.
Sharp End Award – Kenji Haroutunian The Access Fund is honored to present a Sharp End Award to Kenji Haroutunian, president of the Friends of Joshua Tree (FOJT) for his dedicated activism to keep the rock in Joshua Tree National Park open to climbers. Kenji has been instrumental in developing and organizing FOJT’s annual Climb Smart event (just completing its 13th year), which partners climbing companies, athletes, and the local Joshua Tree community to support FOJT, Joshua Tree Search & Rescue, and other key climbing advocacy groups. This year Kenji also rallied climbers to participate in Joshua Tree’s General Management Plan, which could affect climbing access and conservation for the next 15-20 years. Thanks to Kenji for his longtime support for Joshua Tree climbing.
Sharp End Award – Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) For 20 years, REI has been dedicated to protecting the places we climb and conserving the climbing environment. REI’s support of both the Adopt a Crag program and the TeamWorks youth stewardship program has grown local volunteerism and long-term stewardship of climbing areas tremendously. In 2010, REI increased their support of the climbing community through the REI VISA card and proceeds from BANFF Mountain Film Festival. We thank REI for their passion and commitment to bringing communities together to protect the places we climb.
The Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has provided the American Alpine Club (AAC) with an 18-month loan to assist with the purchase of 40 acres in Fayetteville, West Virginia adjacent to the New River Gorge National River. The land will be improved as a campground.
The loan from the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign will provide permanent parking access for Junk Yard Wall and walking access to other popular crags such as the Bridge Area, as well as providing a campground that will enhance the climbing experience for visitors traveling to climb on West Virginia’s beautiful sandstone walls.
“We are building on the tradition that started with the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch,” says AAC Executive Director Phil Powers. “Lodging options within walking distance from great climbing supports the climbing lifestyle we all enjoy. We hope to create a facility that meets climbers’ needs and adds opportunities for climbers to gather and share their stories.”
The New River Alliance of Climbers helped advise the AAC on the best location for the campground and is in full support of the project. “We are excited to be in this partnership with the American Alpine Club, Access Fund, and National Park Service to grow the recreational infrastructure in a quality direction for climbers,” says New River Alliance of Climbers President Gene Kistler.
The AAC hopes to transfer the property to the National Park Service (NPS) to be co-managed by AAC and NPS as a campground for climbers and other visitors. The proposed campground is expected to house 50-60 campsites, bathrooms and showers, a cooking pavilion, library or meeting space, and manager’s quarters. As with other AAC campgrounds, the property will be developed specifically with climbers in mind and will allow for extended stays at inexpensive rates. Completion of the campground is expected to take at least two years.
Omnibus Lands Bill Could Affect Climbing at Oak Flat 12/14/2010 The Access Fund is keeping tabs on a huge public lands bill that, though unlikely, could potentially pass Congress during the lame duck session. The ‘‘Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2010’’ includes provisions that would enact the controversial Southeast Arizona Land Exchange Act.
The Access Fund and Arizona climbing community have long worked to protect climbing in central Arizona, first through the Friends of Queen Creek and then the Queen Creek Coalition (QCC). The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange bill would destroy hundreds of existing roped climbing routes and thousands of bouldering problems by transferring US Forest Service lands to Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) for a block cave mine. For more background see here and here. If the Omnibus bill is passed, the Arizona Land Exchange will move forward, pending a public National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. If the Omnibus does not pass, the Arizona Land Exchange bill is dead and will need to be reintroduced in the new session of Congress where it likely will quickly gain support in the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives.
David Salisbury, CEO of RCM, says that, “We’ve encouraged Congress to move the bill that the Senate Energy Committee has reported.” In other words, RCM says they are advocating for the current language of the bill to remain unchanged if it is reintroduced next year, including all the provisions to compensate the climbing community and the required upfront environmental analysis. However, if the Omnibus does not pass this year, the final language of the proposed law is up to the new Congress next year. Several key members of Congress remain opposed to the NEPA provision. While the bill, if passed, would result in a huge loss to the climbing community, many think the removal of the upfront NEPA provision would be even worse, thus eliminating an important federal process that climbers, conservationists, and other groups can use to hold RCM accountable.
This past year strategic disagreements in the climbing community split the QCC into two groups: one that retains the QCC name and works directly with the copper company to obtain the “most net rock climbing,” and the Concerned Climbers of Arizona who advocate for continued recreational access to climbing areas that are threatened by development or other forms of encroachment. The Access Fund has not exclusively sided with either of central Arizona’s climbing advocacy groups, but continues to work with each organization, Congress, and RCM directly to advocate for climbing access and the conservation of climbing resources in Arizona.
Additional proposed laws in the Omnibus of interest to climbers include new national parks, designated wilderness areas (including a proposal in Washington State supported and in part shaped by the Access Fund), protections for rivers and trails, and Access Fund-backed support for funding to purchase important lands for conservation and outdoor recreation. Given Congress’s packed legislative calendar the remainder of the year and the many complications in this bill, many pundits now think it a longshot that the lame duck Congress will pass a public lands Omnibus package at all in 2010.
For more information, stay tuned to the Access Fund’s E-news.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently released a draft Chimney Rock State Park Master Plan that significantly restricts rock climbing. We need your help to ensure continued climbing access across the park!
While access to the south side of Rumbling Bald Mountain would continue under the proposed master plan, climbing in many other areas would be prohibited, including the north side of Rumbling Bald Mountain and the south face of Round Top Mountain (“Ghost Town”). The draft plan also prohibits climbing access at World's Edge (Cane Creek), Chimney Rock Attraction, Blue Rock (Bat Cave), Cloven Cliffs, and Weed Patch Mountain.
The current master plan draft lacks a clear process for evaluating and considering responsible climbing access while still balancing the protection of natural resources.
Please take a moment to use our easy letter-writing tool to submit comments to Chimney Rock State Park by December 13th to encourage access to historical climbing areas and outline a clear process for evaluating new climbing opportunities.
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