Action Alert: Protect Climbing Access in Yosemite
We need your help to influence the latest Merced River Plan, which could restrict climbing access and camping in Yosemite Valley, depending on how the Park prepares its new revised user capacity program. At issue is access to iconic climbs including those found on 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. Another consequence of this litigation is the increased likelihood that camping will become even more scarce while the number of lodging units remains largely unchanged.
Please write Yosemite National Park by February 4 and support the preservation of climbing access in the Valley! With our easy-to-use letter writing tool, it only takes two minutes to make your voice heard.
Take action now!
CCC Starts Off the New Year by Closing on Rumbling Bald
Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) starts off the new year by closing on the acquisition of Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders on January 6. The Access Fund provided a bridge loan of $72,000 from the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign to finance 90% of the purchase price for the 6.12 acre tract, which hosts 30 boulders with approximately 200 high quality boulder problems.
The CCC and the Access Fund worked together to finalize the purchase of this popular bouldering area from a private developer. The CCC will fundraise over the next two years, with the intent of transferring the property to North Carolina State Parks for long-term, climber-friendly management.
For more information on the acquisition, click here. To find out what you can do to help the fundraising efforts, visit www.carolinaclimbers.org.
Access Fund to Refinance Farley Ledge Loan, Saving Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition Thousands
The Access Fund announced today that it will provide Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition with short-term financing to pay off an existing $30,000 bank loan on 7 acres of land at the base of Farley Ledge in Erving, Massachusetts.
The funds 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 Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition has paid down 90 percent of the original $300,000 bank loan. By refinancing the remainder of the loan under the Access Fund’s new program, the Coalition will save approximately $3,500 in interest and fees that can be invested in other projects that benefit the Massachusetts climbing community.
Farley Ledge contains arguably the best climbing in southern New England between Rumney, New Hampshire and the Gunks in eastern New York. In 2007, the Coalition purchased the undeveloped tract at the base of the cliff to protect the access point and allow for a parking area. The Access Fund provided a $10,000 grant to assist with the original purchase.
Prior to the purchase, the parking and trail access for Farley Ledge and the adjacent Metacomet-Monadnock Trail lay across a patchwork of private land parcels at the end of a dense residential neighborhood. Access was constantly threatened by a combination of overuse and lack of adequate public parking, which lead to neighborhood concerns. Farley was closed four times over the last twenty years due to these concerns.
The successful acquisition of this property solidified climbing access by allowing for the creation of a sustainable parking area and a permanent trailhead. The Coalition spearheaded the construction of a new 16-car parking lot, access trail, and kiosk in the fall of 2008, which is now enjoyed by the public.
The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has a long history of protection and preservation at Farley Ledge, funding biological surveys, writing an award winning climbing management plan, and hosting annual Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag stewardship events. “We are excited to give WMCC a new level of support in this stage of conservation at Farley Ledge,” says Access Fund Access Director Joe Sambataro.
The refinance is expected to close by December of this year. The Coalition has an aggressive fundraising plan in place to pay back the loan, allowing the Access Fund to invest in other projects. Please stay tuned to the Coalition for detailed fundraising plans and opportunities to give your support. For more information, contact Jeff Squire at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Sambataro at email@example.com. Visit www.westernmacc.com for new updates.
Yosemite Valley/Merced Update
For several years Yosemite National Park has been working on a plan to address human capacity concerns in the park to prevent negative impacts to the Merced River habitat. The plan is likely to include a quota system that could unfairly target climbers and/or climbing areas that have limited to no impact on the river corridor habitat. The Access Fund is working with our partners to influence the planning process and advocate for management policies that protect the unique values associated with the Merced Wild and Scenic River, while allowing for responsible climbing and camping opportunities. There will be an opportunity for the public to review and comment on details of the plan. Stay tuned to Access Fund E-news for the opportunity to make your voice heard.
For more detail on the Access Fund’s history on the Merced River Plan, see our news item and comments to the last draft plan. More information on the current planning process can be found on the National Park Service website.
Video: Erik Weihenmayer Climbs The Naked Edge to Benefit Access Fund
On Thursday November 5, blind climber Erik Weihenmayer tackled his hardest route to date – Eldorado Canyon’s The Naked Edge.
Led by Access Fund Executive Director, Brady Robinson, and accompanied by friend Charley Mace, the trio ascended seven pitches of sustained 5.11b followed by a film crew.
“Climbing The Naked Edge with Erik and Charley was one of the highlights of my entire climbing career,” says Robinson. “He didn’t just get up it, he climbed it. Every single move. It was an honor to share that experience with him.”
Watch the climb:
Join the Access Fund today and help keep our climbing areas open for this and future generations. www.accessfund.org/join.
Carolina Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund Set to Purchase Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders in North Carolina
The Carolina Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund announced today the intent to purchase and conserve the Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders in North Carolina.
The Access Fund will provide a bridge loan of $72,000 from the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign to finance 90% of the purchase price for the 6.12 acre tract that is currently under contract by the Carolina Climbers Coalition.
The two organizations are working together to finalize the purchase of this popular bouldering area from a private developer. Developed in 1999, the parcel hosts 30 boulders with approximately 200 high quality boulder problems. The area sees considerable use from southeast climbers due to its central location to several nearby metropolitan areas, including Asheville, NC; Charlotte, NC; Greenville, SC; and Spartanburg, SC.
North Carolina State Park officials and wildlife biologists have confirmed the existence of the endangered White Irisette on the property. Park officials and biologists agreed that climbers do not pose a significant threat to this species. In fact, it was generally acknowledged that the use by climbers is likely benefiting the population, as disturbance of the trails reduces leaf litter, which aids in the survival and reproduction of White Irisette. The Carolina Climbers Coalition plans to work with park officials to survey the property and to ensure the protection and health of the endangered species while under their stewardship.
The Carolina Climbers Coalition plans to hold the parcel for the duration of the loan repayment. It has an aggressive fundraising plan in place for the full purchase price and is set to own the property outright within a year. In the summer of 2011, the Carolina Climbers Coalition plans to transfer the property to North Carolina State Parks as an addition to the Rumbling Bald area of Chimney Rock State Park for long-term, climber-friendly management.
The Carolina Climbers Coalition takes on the Rumbling Bald property with the full confidence and support of the Access Fund. The CCC has a strong track record of owning and managing climbing areas—including Laurel Knob and Asheboro bouldering area—and raising funds to secure and steward these areas. To date it is estimated that the CCC and the Access Fund have raised over $250,000 to secure access to these 2 areas.
The deal is expected to close by December 30th, 2009. Please stay tuned to the Carolina Climbers Coalition for detailed fundraising plans and opportunities to give your support. For more information, contact Anthony Love at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Sambataro at email@example.com. Visit www.carolinaclimbers.org for new updates.
A Plan for the Buttermilks Human Waste Issue
On November 7 and 8, the Friends of Inyo hosted an Access Fund supported Adopt a Crag event at the Buttermilks that drew almost 70 volunteers (pictured right). The event was followed by an American Alpine Club hosted slideshow presented by Doug Robinson, which raised $2,000 for the construction and long-term maintenance of a new pit toilet. The vast number of climbers visiting each year has led to growing environmental damage at the site due to lack of adequate facilities and the improper disposal of human waste. The Access Fund’s Grassroots Coordinator, Amy Ansari, and Regional Coordinator for the area, Jim Pinter-Lucke, met with locals and USFS officials to work out a plan of action to address the issue by next fall. In the meantime, the best ways for climbers to help is to plan ahead when they are going to the Buttermilks. Take RESTOP/Wag Bags, disperse campsites to reduce the concentration of impact in one area (or stay at a campground), and stay informed.
Access Fund members get discounted RESTOP Bags!
Access Fund’s New Visa Platinum Rewards Card Offers a New Way to Support the Cause
There is a new, convenient way for people to support the Access Fund. And it fits in your wallet.
The Access Fund and CardPartner, Inc. have joined forces to launch the Access Fund Visa® affinity Platinum Rewards credit card. Applicants can choose between 5 unique card designs, featuring an array of sport climbing, traditional climbing, bouldering, and ice climbing photography. When a cardholder activates the card, Access Fund receives $50. Then once a month for the life of the program, Access Fund receives a check for a portion of every dollar that every cardholder charges.
“Using the Access Fund Visa® affinity Platinum Rewards credit card for everyday purchases is an easy way for climbers to support our work to keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson.
The Access Fund Visa® Platinum Rewards card offers qualified cardholders the following benefits:
• No annual fee
• 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first six months
• Ability to earn points at hundreds of participating retailers
• Ability to earn up to 15 bonus points per dollar at select merchants
• Redeem points for FREE airlines tickets, merchandise and more
• Purchase protection
• Zero liability protection for unauthorized purchases
• Emergency cash and card replacement
• 24-hour roadside assistance
Special thanks to donating photographers Corey Rich, Andy Mann, and Jared McMillen. Find out more about the Access Fund Visa Platinum® Rewards card at www.accessfund.org/creditcard.
Access Fund Receives Thanks from Yosemite National Park
Access Fund receives a letter of thanks from Yosemite National Park for support of the park's climbing management program this year. The Access Fund provided a grant for the Rock Climbing in Yosemite Brochure and Climbing Area Map, and provided input from the beginning on content, design, and layout. According to the park, feedback on the brochure from the climbing community has been overwhelmingly positive.
Read the letter from the Yosemite National Park
Urge Minnewaska State Park to Allow Climbing
Help us urge the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to authorize a process for resource surveys that will determine appropriate climbing access in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This is a live action alert. Take Action Now!
Access Fund Brings Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival to Berkeley, CA
The Access Fund and guest emcee Timmy O'Neill are set to host the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Berkeley, California, on Thursday, November 12th, 2009. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a night of inspiring environmental films and a celebration of the environment, complete with a lively pre-party, live music, beer and an auction. Special guest and pro climber Timmy O’Neill will emcee the evening’s events. The party and film festival will be held at the Clif Bar and Company Headquarters located at 1610 Fifth Street in Berkeley (entrance is through the parking lot on Fourth Street). Festivities kick off at 5 p.m., with film screenings beginning at 7 p.m.
Drinks, live music, and the films themselves will drive the celebration of a festival for activists, by activists, created with the aim of sharing new ideas. In hosting the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, the Access Fund intends to inspire fellow activists to learn, experience, explore, and celebrate the natural and wild worlds through the power of film and thought.
Participants will learn from inspiring environmental films surrounding hard-hitting topics including bioengineering, water issues, wilderness preservation, citizen activism, and more. With added excitement highlighting the adrenalin of kayaking the world’s wildest rivers, climbing the highest peaks, and trekking across the globe, these films will explore the critical issues facing our environment today. Leading environmental activists, outdoor professionals, filmmakers, and celebrities will be in attendance, joining conversations and celebrating alongside the audience.
Tickets are available now for $10. To purchase, and for a sneak peek of the evening’s activities, raffle and silent auction items, and more, visit: www.accessfund.org/wseff. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is supported by Clif Bar, Osprey, Patagonia, Tom’s of Maine, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Buy tickets now!
Gunks Climbers’ Coalition End-of-Climbing-Season Soirée
The Gunks Climbers’ Coalition invites climbers, hikers, and nature lovers to a gala event, celebrating the acquisition of an area of large boulders amid deep, wooded beauty and valley light in Rosendale. This land, the Rosendale Waterworks Bouldering Project, is as world class a location as the Trapps Cliff on the Shawangunk Ridge is to traditional climbing. It’s intended as a place where everyone, climbers and non-climbers, can enjoy the beauty and serenity of our landscape, in perpetuity.
The event on Saturday, November 7 at 6:30pm at the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center, 3197 Route 44/55, Gardiner, NY, is built around great conversation, fabulous food and wine, and live entertainment. There will be stations of substantial hot and cold local food throughout the Visitor’s Center, catered by The Main Course. Wine will be provided by Yancey and Michael Migliore’s award-winning Whitecliff Vineyard and Jen Redmond, Upstate Sales Manager at Organic Vintages.
The evening’s entertainment will be a poetry slam/spoken word performance by two of the Vulgarians, a controversial group of climbers dating back to the 60’s with a notorious reputation for wild stunts on the cliffs. The Vulgarians were and still are egalitarians - egalitarians with a grubby grumpy edge who had a lot of fun and have made a commitment to keep it up. Their stated and enacted mission was to provide a safe haven for all, and any fraternity or sorority rejects in particular - although one could also be welcome if one had such affiliations - to earn membership one merely had to be able to survive in the environment. If you kept coming back to the cliff, you were one of them. Featured artists include Claude Suhl, Beatnik poet and soul of the Vulgarians, and Burt Angrist, storyteller, prankster, and funny man.
The event is $75.00 per person. Reservations are required; black tie is optional. Proceeds will initiate fundraising efforts to cover costs associated with the purchase and maintenance of the Rosendale Waterworks Bouldering Project. Space is limited. Please RSVP with your payment by October 22 through our website donations page at gunksclimbers.org. Telephone contact: 845 613 0683.
Access Fund Announces Third Round Grant Recipients for 2009
In the third round of the Climbing Preservation Grant Program for 2009, the Access Fund awarded over $11,500 to support local climbing activism and conservation of the climbing environment. Presented three times annually, the Climbing Preservation Grants program provides financial assistance for local climber activism and protection of the climbing environment in the United States. During this third round of grants, the Access Fund is supporting three proposals. The following grants were awarded this round:
National Park Service – Exit Strategies Conference
A grant was awarded to the National Park Service for a 2010 conference on exit strategies of human waste. This conference will include land managers and representatives from major climbing areas facing waste management crises due to high recreational use, such as Denali, Mt. Whitney, Mt Fuji, Rocky Mountain, Tetons, Indian Creek, and Mt. Rainier. Matching funds are being provided by the NPS, BLM, USFS, and American Alpine Club.
Ozark-St. Francis National Forest – Sam’s Throne Pit Toilet
Ozark-St. Francis National Forest was awarded a grant for partial funding of a pit toilet at Sam’s Throne in Arkansas. The Forest Service and local climbing community have partnered to improve access and camping opportunities, yet the lack of toilet facilities has led to growing environmental damage at the site. The grant is awarded with support of the Arkansas Climbing Coalition, Boy Scouts local climbing committee, Arkansas Parks and Tourism, and Ozark Outdoor Supply.
Dishman Hills Natural Area Association (DHNAA) – Big Rock Road Improvement and Parking
A grant was awarded to Dishman Hills Natural Area Association (DHNAA) to help fund road improvement and parking construction needed to access the newly acquired 80-acre Big Rock parcel, near Spokane, WA. Public access is currently closed until the unmaintained county road is improved and a small parking area is constructed. Access to the area was closed due to climbers and other users blocking driveways of adjacent neighbors in an attempt to park.
Help Reopen Williamson Rock
Your comments needed to support Forest Service proposal to reopen climbing access at Williamson Rock in Angeles National Forest.
Since 2004, the Angeles National Forest has banned climbing at Williamson Rock due to conflicts with critical habitat of the endangered Mountain Yellow Legged Frog. Now, after much work by the Friends of Williamson Rock and the Access Fund urging the Angeles National Forest to study alternate approach trails to Williamson, the Forest Service has issued a proposal that would reopen many of Williamson’s climbs while also protecting sensitive wildlife habitat.
This is a live action alert. Please take action now!
Access PanAm Gets Off to a Good Start
Access PanAM / Acceso PanAm, the first ever hemisphere-wide access group, met for the first time at the Squamish Mountain Festival this past August. Led by Access Fund founder Armando Menocal, climbing activists from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, and United States (including Access Fund Policy Director) met to discuss the problems faced by climbers in the Western Hemisphere.
The initial sessions revealed the breath of access problems across Latin America—from gang members with machine guns blocking climbers in Brazilian favelas, to Cubans being arrested at their crags even though climbing is permitted by foreigners, and even Mexican villagers accusing local climbers of stealing a mythical golden dog perched on their cliffs. The issues vary, but they have a common core: No one solution fits.
It will be up to local climbers to solve local problems, but the basic mission of Access PanAm will be to support the locals in these initiatives. Access PanAm’s goal will be to create and sustain local, regional, and country-wide access organizations that keep climbing areas open and protect the mountain environment. La unión hace la fuerza – In unity there is power.
The new access organization made several achievements at the August meeting, including the appointment of a part time Executive Director, Kika Bradford, founder of Brazil’s first access organization and selection of a steering committee made up of activists from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, USA, and Spain.
Access PanAm also launched its first campaign, to save one of Latin America’s biggest and most endangered climbing areas, Valle Cochamó. Situated in Chile's Patagonia, this alpine wilderness has some of the longest ice-free granite routes on earth. Cochamó is legally unprotected, and local utility companies have applied to dam the valley for its water and hydro-power. The effort to save this spectacular area includes Daniel Seeliger, one of Access PanAm’s initial organizers and a resident of Valle Cochamó.
The founding meeting of Access PanAm was funded by the Petzl Foundation, helped by air tickets from Mountain Gear (U.S.A.), and hosted by the Squamish Mountain Festival.
For more information, visit accesspanam.com.
Alaskan Small Businesses Fight Denali Fee Increase for Climbers
Last month, local guide services and air taxis joined forces to lobby Alaska senators against a possible fee increase (from $200 to $500) that would unfairly targets climbers attempting Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker. The increase would make climbing in the national park impossible for some climbers and significantly damage local businesses that provide guiding and other services to visiting climbers. This effort was supported by the Access Fund, American Mountain Guides Association, and American Alpine Club.
Read the letter
Southeastern Climbers Coalition Closes on Steele
On Friday, September 4th, 2009, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) closed on a 25 acre tract and cliffline in Steele, Alabama for a purchase price of $55,000. The crag has been off limits to climbers for over twenty years after a dispute with a private landowner. The 25 acre tract is now climber owned and managed and will be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The SCC negotiated a purchase for a portion (1,400 linear feet) of the mile-long crag along with adequate parking and trail access.
In collaboration with the SCC, the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign www.accessfund.org/aflcc provided a $20,000 bridge loan to allow the project to close on time. To date the SCC has raised $40,000 of the $55,000 price tag, including generous support from the climbing community, Chaco, Rock/Creek, countless others, and an early gift of $5,000 from the Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grants Program.
The crag at Steele will offer sport and traditional climbing as well as some bouldering and is 45 minutes from nearby Birmingham and two hours from Atlanta, Georgia. The 25 acre tract includes approximately 40 climbing routes, both sport and traditional along with a hillside strewn with sandstone boulders. The tract also has a house trailer, metal shed, parking and good road access from the main highway (Chandler Mountain Road). The area is expected to be popular due to its close proximity to metropolitan areas and quality of sandstone and routes. The goal of the SCC is to open up the entire clifflline, and the Access Fund bridge loan gives the SCC greater capacity to negotiate with other landowners along the cliffline.
For more information, visit www.seclimbers.org.
Access Fund Announces Multimillion Campaign to Save Endangered Climbing Areas
The Access Fund announces the launch of a new campaign to save endangered climbing areas—the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign (AFLCC). The AFLCC is a multimillion-dollar revolving loan program designed to provide local climbing organizations and other agencies with the funds and expertise needed to act quickly to save threatened climbing areas.
“Over the years, we’ve seen more private climbing areas changing hands, some of them lost to cash-ready developers. Local climbers don’t always have the money or the resources to save these climbing areas. This program was designed to help them,” says Brady Robinson, Access Fund Executive Director.
While a portion of the Access Fund’s focus and revenues has always been allocated to acquisition and protection of threatened land (see acquisitions history), the new AFLCC program will expand on this capability, arming local climbing organizations to take on the ever-growing threats of development and protect our climbing resources from landowners who are not climber friendly.
The AFLCC will provide local climbing organizations with short-term loans and expertise on direct acquisitions, leases, easements, and other tactics. This assistance and bridge financing for time-sensitive projects will give local climbers the opportunity to raise money over a longer period of time and/or finalize take-out strategies. In addition to loans, the AFLCC may also offer grants for direct conservation efforts, including acquisitions and other projects that protect climbing areas on private land.
The AFLCC already has two successful pilot projects underway. The first is a $15,000 bridge loan to secure an option agreement for the acquisition of the Lower Index Town Wall in Washington. “The Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign stepped in at just the right time to loan WCC the funds necessary to secure this option,” says WCC Secretary Matt Perkins. The second is a $20,000 bridge loan to Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) to help facilitate the purchase of a 29-acre cliff line in Steele, Alabama. Learn more about these projects.
The Access Fund has been fundraising for the campaign for 14 months and is over halfway toward its goal of $2.5 million. To date, the AFLCC has been supported by a number of generous individuals and companies within the outdoor industry. Bill Supple, President and CEO of Mammut Sports Group commented, “from an outdoor industry prospective, as the bar gets higher and more complicated in maintaining access to multi-recreational areas, we need to step up and support initiatives like the AFLCC for both future generations of users and for the long term sustainability of our businesses.”
Because the AFLCC is a revolving fund, donors’ contributions are recycled over time, allowing the Access Fund to protect more and more valued climbing areas for future generations. For more information about the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, visit www.accessfund.org/AFLCC.
We want to give you the opportunity to be a part of this landmark campaign, which has the potential to change the face of climbing access in America! Please consider giving an addition donation today or joining the Access Fund if you aren't already a member.
Access Fund makes the outdoor community’s case for modernizing hardrock mining policy
Access Fund provided testimony for the July 14 legislative hearing on the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009 on behalf of the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of six national, member-based organizations devoted to conservation and stewardship of our nation’s public lands and waters through responsible human-powered outdoor recreation. More information on the Outdoor Alliance.
The testimony encourages legislators to focus hardrock mining reform on three fundamental areas: (1) creating a fair royalty system to fund abandoned mine cleanup; (2) environmental protection standards that explicitly recognize the value of our public lands beyond what can be extracted by mining interests; and (3) protecting federal lands that have exceptional non-extractive value, such as National Conservation Areas, Wild and Scenic River corridors and Inventoried Roadless Areas from future mining activity.
Read the testimony
Big Rock Acquired for Conservation
Late last month the Spokane area conservation group Dishman Hills Natural Area Association (DHNAA) acquired the iconic Big Rock property located at the south end of the Dishman Hills. The deal involved an even swap of another 80-acres of DHNAA land on the north side of the ridge. Big Rock will be protected for the public as part of a larger, 750-acre natural area. The Spokane Mountaineers are working in collaboration with DHNAA to start road and parking area improvements necessary for climbers and the public to gain access to this area, which features granite rocks rising from the ridgeline.
For more information, visit: http://www.spokanemountaineers.org/content/whos_out_there/one_trip.php?id=32