Access Fund Announces Second Round Grant Recipients
The Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded over $18,000 in this second round of the 2012 Climbing Preservation Grants Program. Each year, the Access Fund awards up to $40,000 in grant money to local climbing communities with worthy projects that preserve or enhance climbing access. The Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grants Program is an example of membership dollars at work in local climbing communities across the country. Again this round, Access Fund members got the opportunity to review qualifying grant projects and rate them, providing valuable input to our grant selection committee as to which projects they want their dollars to support. We are pleased to announce funding for the following worthy projects.
American Alpine Club: Vantage Toilet Project
Together with the Washington Climbers Coalition and the Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club will receive funding to install a permanent toilet facility at Vantage to mitigate climbers’ impact and promote stewardship of the area for years to come. An arid climate and high volume of climbs make Vantage a popular climbing and camping destination in central Washington. Traffic has been increasing for years, despite the lack of a proper toilet facility within ten miles of the area. Now, the impact of climbers on the fragile desert landscape is becoming evident through the accumulation of human waste and a permanent facility is necessary.
Boulder Climbing Community: Front Range Trail Team
The Boulder Climbing Community will receive funding for a 3-person team of trail building experts to improve heavily impacted access trails to climbing areas in the Boulder, Colorado Front Range area. Working closely with land managers and volunteers from the community, the team will establish sustainable trails that reduce the impact of climbers in areas of Boulder Canyon, Eldorado State Park, and other areas in need.
Friends of Muir Valley: Muir Valley Restroom Facilities
The Friends of Muir Valley will receive funding to address a serious human waste issue threatening access to the Muir Valley Nature and Climbing Preserve. As user numbers continue to grow (over 30,000 in 2011), the toilet facility at the trailhead can no longer mitigate human waste alone. This has created unacceptable amounts of human waste deposited in a sensitive ecosystem. The solution is to build two small, waterless, unisex restrooms approximately one mile apart in the highest traffic areas of the Valley. These toilets would help maintain human and ecosystem health in this world-renowned climbing area.
Northern Colorado Climbers’ Coalition: Carter Lake/Fawn Hollow Trail Project
In an on-going effort to ensure continued climbing access at Carter Lake in Loveland, Colorado, the Northern Colorado Climbers’ Coalition will receive funding to create a unified trail system to improve access to the climbing resource and allow eroded slopes and social trails to re-vegetate. This phase of the project also includes a trailhead sign and kiosk that outlines the history of climbing at Carter Lake and Northern Colorado, clearly displays regulations for use of the area, and provides guidelines for climbers to follow to ensure continued access to the bouldering.
Somerset County Park Commission: Sourland Smackdown/Adopt a Crag
Working with local climbers, gyms, and outdoor shops, Somerset County Parks will receive funding for trail work supplies and materials to expand and improve the Devil’s Half Acre bouldering area in the Sourland Mountain Preserve of New Jersey. This project will add an additional 200 feet of access trail in order to minimize braided trails and reduce the environmental impact of bouldering in the park. Funding will also be used for a trash clean-up of the bouldering area. Sourland Mountain’s bouldering is an important resource for New Jersey climbers, where resources and legal access are few and far between.
Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition: Unaweep Canyon Trail Signage and Property Investigation
The Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition (WCCC) will receive funding to install permanent signage at Unaweep Canyon in order to foster Leave No Trace ethics, build support for the WCCC and Access Fund, and ensure proper insurance coverage for commercial and educational uses of the crags. WCCC will also receive funding to investigate and appraise other properties in Unaweep Canyon that show promising cliff lines and would significantly add to the area’s climbing resources if acquired.
Yosemite Climbing Association: Yosemite Facelift
Yosemite Climbing Association will receive a grant to help host the 5-day Yosemite Facelift, where members of Yosemite’s local climbing community and other volunteers from around the country work together to clean up as much trash as possible from Yosemite’s trails, roadways, river corridors, campgrounds, lodging areas, and climbing areas. There are also several special projects planned, including the removal of abandoned infrastructure, non-native species removal, old dump site removal, and climbing trail restoration. This grant will help bring hundreds of climbers together to give back to one of the most cherished climbing areas in the world, year after year.
Auburn Quarry Fundraising Goal Met
The Access Fund and Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento (CRAGS) are pleased to announce the successful completion of the fundraising campaign to open Auburn Quarry outside of Sacramento, California.
CRAGS has long been working with California’s Auburn State Recreation Area to lift the 9-year ban on rock climbing at the Cave Valley Climbing Area (the “Auburn Quarry”). The park managers have agreed to allow rock climbing at the Quarry, but due to budget cuts the park will require CRAGS to establish and maintain basic services there. CRAGS has entered into an agreement with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to provide these critical services in the area to offset climber impacts.
Both the Access Fund and CRAGS contributed funds to help meet the terms of the new agreement, and on August 10, 2012 the Access Fund kicked off a fundraising campaign to help raise the remainder of the money. The climbing community responded quickly and generously, and in just under two weeks the community raised $9,520 to provide these services and restore climbing access early next month!
A special thanks to all of the individual donors and local businesses, including Planet Granite, Sacramento Pipeworks, and Stoneage Climbing Holds for generously responding to the call for help. “It's really gratifying to see how quickly, and how generously, the climbing community responded,” says CRAGS Board Member Brian Poulsen. “This strengthens my hope that permanent unrestricted climbing access is achievable, and CRAGS is committed to seeing that through.” Donors’ generous contributions will help CRAGS pay for garbage and toilet service and informational signs at the quarry, plus volunteer supplies and park support services.
Opening day is planned for Friday September 7, 2012. Climbers can access the Quarry on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. To maintain access, it is crucial for climbers to respect park rules, the environment, and safe climbing practices. CRAGS continues to work with the park to re-establish permanent climbing access every day of the week. Get involved as a volunteer by visiting www.norcalcrags.org.
Allied Climbers of San Diego Newest Joint Member Affiliate
The Access Fund is pleased to welcome Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) as the newest joint member affiliate. Since forming in 2007, ACSD has led the way in protecting climbing access in the San Diego region of California. Access Fund is excited to expand our partnership with ACSD to include joint membership. You can join both organizations at the same time, with a single membership—benefits from both organizations for the cost of one! Joint membership starts at just $35!
Join or renew today!
Hawaii Crags Closed After Accident
Mokuleia Wall (or the Moke as the locals know it) is a basalt cliff on Oahu with sport routes 40 to 90 feet tall. In June of this year, a 12 year-old girl was critically injured at Mokuleia while participating in a summer camp climbing event sponsored by a local YMCA camp. The girl had to be flown out by helicopter, and the following day the State posted signs along the trailhead closing the area indefinitely.
Concerns raised by the accident at Mokuleia caused the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to close another crag, Makapuu, which sits on Oahu's windward (east) side. Liability appears to be the main concern in both closures. Both crags are important resources for Hawaii climbers, and the Access Fund is working with a group of local climbers and business owners on short- and long-term options for re-opening both crags. Big thanks to all of our Hawaii members who are helping out with this effort.
Stay tuned to Access Fund e-news for updates.
Jemez (aka Crystal) Cave Closing
In the latest Vertical Times, we reported that the Santa Fe National Forest and local Pueblo are concerned about climbing impacts at Jemez Cave (aka Crystal Cave) in New Mexico. Access Fund Affiliate the New Mexico Climbers’ Resource and Advocacy Group (NM CRAG) worked with local climbers to take proactive steps to address these concerns, removed all the fixed draws from the cave, met with the Forest Service and local Pueblo, and got the word out to the local climbing community.
We just got word that the Forest Service plans on issuing a temporary closure of Crystal Cave in October in order to perform an archaeological survey. Impacts to the cave’s nationally significant archeological resources are the major concern. NM CRAG held a public meeting with the local climbing community yesterday to review the current status. While the official closure date is projected to be mid October, NM CRAG and the Forest Service are requesting that climbers voluntarily refrain from climbing at Crystal Cave at this time. The Access Fund continues to work with NM CRAG, local climbers, and the US Forest Service to address this issue.
Visit Mountain Project and watch e-news for future updates.
Trout Creek Closure Lifted
Back in February of this year, we reported that the BLM issued an emergency closure at Trout Creek, Oregon’s premier destination for pure crack climbs, due to golden eagle nesting activity in the area. After discussions with Access Fund, Friends of Trout Creek, American Alpine Club, Mazamas, and Crag Law Center, the BLM agreed to change the emergency closure to a voluntary closure and use local climbers in a monitoring program. We are happy to report that climbers complied with the closure, and local climbers helped monitor nest sites.
However, we are sorry to report that the nest site failed—through no fault of climbers. Access Fund Regional Coordinator Eric Sorenson was asked by the BLM to rappel into the failed nest to collect information that the BLM used to gain a better understanding of golden eagle mortality. The voluntary closure has been lifted, and climbers are once again able to access Trout Creek. A huge thanks goes out to local climbers who showed restraint by respecting the closure and volunteering as monitors, which helped to facilitate a solid working relationship with local BLM officials. The Access Fund continues to work with the BLM while an environmental assessment is developed, to determine the best strategy for managing climbing access and future golden eagle nest sites.
For local updates, visit Friends of Trout Creek facebook page.
Auburn Quarry Climbing Ban Nearly Lifted – Your Urgent Support Needed!
Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento (CRAGS) and the Access Fund are excited to announce the successful negotiation of an agreement with California’s Auburn State Recreation Area to lift a 9-year ban on rock climbing at the Cave Valley Climbing Area (the “Auburn Quarry”). Although the agreement must be approved by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, CRAGS anticipates that approval is imminent. Climbing access is now contingent on CRAGS providing critical services in the area to offset climber impacts. CRAGS and the Access Fund are working to raise $9,520 to provide these services and restore climbing access early next month! Please visit www.accessfund.org/auburn to make a contribution--100% of your donation will support the climbing area.
The Auburn State Recreation Area is a large public park on the American River, 35 miles northeast of Sacramento. The Cave Valley climbing area is an old limestone quarry near the river. Efforts to build a large federal dam there were halted in the late 1970’s. Quarrying and dam-construction activities left large features that are suitable for climbing. Over the years, climbers have established numerous sport routes of varying difficulty.
Photo by Jerry Dodrill
In April 2003 the California Department of Parks and Recreation issued an order prohibiting technical rock climbing in the park. Local climbers formed CRAGS in 2008, in affiliation with the Access Fund, to re-establish climbing access at Auburn Quarry. For four years CRAGS members have attended meetings and wrote letters arguing that rock climbers have been unfairly singled out. The park managers have now agreed to allow rock climbing at the Quarry, but due to budget cuts the park will require CRAGS to establish and maintain basic services there.
CRAGS has contributed funds and received a generous grant from the Access Fund to help meet the terms of the new agreement. CRAGS needs to raise additional funds by September 7th to open the Quarry to climbing. Your tax-deductible donation will help CRAGS pay for garbage and toilet service and informational signs at the quarry, plus volunteer supplies and park support services. Once CRAGS reaches this goal, climbing will be allowed at the Quarry on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. To maintain access, it is crucial for climbers to respect park rules, the environment, and safe climbing practices. CRAGS continues to work with the park to re-establish permanent climbing access every day of the week.
“CRAGS has worked for years to re-open Auburn Quarry to climbing, and the Access Fund is proud to see their hard work paying off,” says Access Fund Policy Director RD Pascoe. Please help in this final push to open Auburn Quarry by donating at: www.accessfund.org/auburn. Get involved as a volunteer by visiting www.norcalcrags.org.
Stop Vermont Fish & Wildlife Climbing Ban
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD) is currently considering a rule that would ban climbing on all of their managed lands. We need your help to convince VFWD to add climbing as an authorized activity!
Take Action Now!
Access Fund and American Alpine Club Partner to Continue Legacy of the Hueco Rock Ranch
Access Fund and American Alpine Club Partner to Continue Legacy of Hueco Rock Ranch
The Access Fund and American Alpine Club (AAC) are pleased to announce that the iconic Hueco Rock Ranch will stay in climber-friendly hands with new ownership by the AAC. The Ranch is the primary lodging facility and guiding headquarters for climbers visiting the stunning bouldering and climbing of Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site outside of El Paso, TX.
The Hueco Rock Ranch has a long history—it was originally built as a personal residence by Todd Skinner in the mid-nineties with friends John and Carol Gogas and climbing stars such as Scott Milton and Fred Nicole. Rob Rice took ownership of the Ranch in 2000 and became the first commercial guide under the new set of climbing requirements, beckoning in a new generation of climbers to enjoy this historic climbing mecca. “The place was built by climbers—for climbers—and has been a hub for the climbing community since day one,” says Rob Rice.
Last fall Rice, now living in Arkansas full-time, reached out to Access Fund for assistance in finding a climber-friendly buyer who could manage the Ranch onsite. Working with Rice and fellow landowner Scott Rohde, Access Fund reached out to the AAC whose vision of supporting the climbing way of life by providing lodging facilities and logistical support seemed a perfect fit for the Rock Ranch.
“Not only is the Hueco Rock Ranch important historically, it has played an important role in climbing access to Hueco Tanks,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “Through the Ranch, climbers have fostered and maintained a positive relationship with Texas State Parks. Maintaining strong climber management of the Ranch is important for all climbers, even those who choose to stay elsewhere during their visit.”
Staff from the Access Fund and AAC worked closely together to make the purchase of the Rock Ranch possible. The Access Fund provided leadership and acquisition expertise, as well short-term funding from the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign. Access Fund went under contract to purchase the Ranch in May, and at closing, assigned the properties to the AAC for long-term ownership and management.
“Lodging options within walking distance from great climbing supports the climbing lifestyle we all enjoy—and this purchase of the Hueco Rock Ranch can only expand the types of climbing that we’re able to support,” says AAC Executive Director Phil Powers. “We hope to create a facility that meets climbers’ needs and adds opportunities for climbers to gather and share their stories.”
This project has been a great partnership between the Access Fund and American Alpine Club. “Preservation of the Hueco Rock Ranch uniquely fits the missions of both organizations and we are glad to share this victory with the local, national, and international climbing community,” says Joe Sambataro, Access Director at the Access Fund.
The AAC is undertaking improvements to the Ranch this summer—committing over $15,000 to completely clean and renovate the structures and tent camping facilities. An AAC staff member will be onsite overseeing these improvements. Future plans include additional renovations and new structures like a shower house and community cooking pavilion in the style of the Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch (GTCR) and New River Gorge Campground (NRGC). The AAC will also hire an onsite Hueco Rock Ranch Manager. The hiring process will begin this summer with the Job Description posted on the AAC’s Jobs page.
The Rock Ranch is also closely tied to Route Fitters (RF) guiding operation, which holds a concession to operate trips in the park. For the foreseeable future, Rob Rice and RF are prepared to continue operations out of the Ranch. The AAC plans to complete its improvements by early autumn of 2012. Campers will be able to make reservations online, and walk-in campers will always be welcome at the Rock Ranch. Both AAC and Access Fund members will receive discounted rates.
Special Edition Sterling Rope to Benefit Access Fund & American Alpine Club
The Access Fund, the national advocacy organization dedicated to protecting America’s climbing, is pleased to announce that Sterling Rope has just unveiled a special edition rope to benefit Access Fund and the American Alpine Club (AAC). The green 9.8mm Velocity rope from Sterling’s Evolution series is the company’s best-selling, high performance rope.
This special edition rope features a unique color pattern of bright green, gray, and black (colors of the Access Fund and AAC) to celebrate the two organizations that support the American climbing community, raising awareness and money to support their missions. The special edition ropes are available in both 60- and 70-meter lengths.
A long-time supporter of the Access Fund, Sterling will donate $10 from the sale of each special edition rope to both the Access Fund and the AAC. The ropes are available for purchase at www.accessfund.org/shop or form www.sterlingrope.com, as well as at participating retail stores.
“Sterling Rope has been a long-time supporter of both the Access Fund and American Alpine Club and believes strongly in the great work they do,” says Sterling Rope Marketing Director John “JB” Branagan. “Offering this special edition product form our top selling Evolution Velocity 9.8mm rope is a perfect way to support these organizations, helping to raise awareness of their dedication to the climbing community and to their complimentary missions.”
New Hampshire Lawmakers Sign In Protections for Landowners who Allow Climbing
The Access Fund is pleased to announce that New Hampshire lawmakers today passed legislation that bolsters landowner protections for people who open their property to climbing.
After a concerted advocacy effort by New Hampshire climbers, House Bill 1551 was signed into law today, expressly naming rock climbing as an activity protected under the state’s recreational use statutes affording landowners a measure of liability protection.
New Hampshire climbers became aware that HB 1551 passed the House of Representatives in May without climbing specifically named as an activity afforded protection. New Hampshire law previously protected landowners who opened their land "for hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, horseback riding, bicycling, water sports, winter sports, snowmobiling, hiking, sightseeing, or removal of fuel wood" from getting sued if someone was injured on their property. However landowners who opened their property to technical climbing were not explicitly protected.
Local climbers rallied to submit letters and make phone calls to their Senators, asking them to amend the bill to include technical climbing before passing it. With leadership from Access Fund NH Regional Coordinator, Erik Eisele, climbers were able to secure a time to provide testimony at a Senate hearing on HB 1551. Local climber and community leader Tim Kemple Sr. provided the testimony, advocating for the amendment. The Senate responded and passed HB 1551 with the climbing amendment on June 1.
And today it was signed into law by Governor John Lynch. “This is an important piece of legislation for climbers,” says Eisele. “With landowners protected from liability if someone is injured while climbing on their property, it makes it much more likely that a landowner would consider public access to climbing.”
AF Welcomes East Idaho Climbers Coalition as Newest Joint Membership Affiliate
The Access Fund is excited to announce that it has combined forces with the East Idaho Climbers Coalition (EICC) to offer joint membership. The EICC works to build grassroots support for climbers' concerns and promote outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship in eastern Idaho. By combining memberships, you can support climbing on both a national and local level as well as receive benefits from both organizations for the cost of one.
Membership starts at just $35!
Already an Access Fund member in Eastern Idaho?
Renew as a joint member today!
CRAG-VT Re-Pays AFLCC Loan
The Climbing Resource Access Group of Vermont (CRAG-VT) made their final payment last week on their Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign (AFLCC) loan.
The loan, given in July of last year, was for emergency stewardship action to repair the access road to major local crags (including Bolton Quarry, 82 Crag, and the recently acquired Carcass Crag) after it was washed out in a spring flood, blocking climbing access. The Access Fund amended its AFLCC loan policy last summer to allow for emergency stewardship funding, and CRAG-VT was the first organization to benefit from this amendment.
CRAG-VT is the fourth organization to fully pay back their AFLCC loan, returning funds to the revolving loan program where the Access Fund will loan the money out again to save another threatened climbing area.
Human Powered Recreation Gets a Seat at the Table in USFS Planning
We are happy to report that our very own Outdoor Alliance Policy Architect, Adam Cramer, has been appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee that will provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on the implementation of the new Forest Service Planning Rule.
“The new forest planning rule holds great promise, but success depends on how it will be implemented,” says Cramer. “Serving on this advisory committee will enable OA to channel the human powered outdoor recreation world's conservation values and perspectives and help set the stage for thoughtful planning to take care of our mountains, rivers and forests into the future.”
There is currently an unprecedented amount of Forest Planning in the works around the country that could affect important climbing areas like the Wind River Mountains, High Sierra, and Cochise Stronghold. “Having an Access Fund affiliated representative on this committee is a big victory for climbers,” says AF Senior Policy Advisor Jason Keith. “We now have an official seat at the table in Forest Service planning.”
Read more on the Outdoor Alliance website.
Backcountry.com lends support to the Access Fund - Jeep® Climbing Conservation Team
The Access Fund is excited to announce that Backcountry.com is supporting the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team in 2012.
The Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team employs two, full-time conservation/trail building experts who travel the country in a new 2011 Jeep Patriot to help maintain climbing areas throughout the United States. The team works with local climbers to address conservation needs and provides training on planning and stewardship best practices. This year, the team will visit over 50 crags across the U.S.
“We’re honored to support the important work of the Access Fund,” said Jill Layfield, CEO of Backcountry.com. “We understand our obligation as an outdoor retailer to protect the places where our customers and employees play. The Access Fund does an exceptional job of engaging the public and building community support through their work. We’re proud to partner with them on this conservation initiative that will lead to healthier climbing areas for everyone.”
The majority of Backcountry’s corporate charitable giving budget goes to organizations whose missions are to promote environmental stewardship and protect access and responsible recreation in North America’s wild places.
The Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team, launched in the fall of 2011, extends the success of the Access Fund’s existing Adopt a Crag and TeamWorks stewardship programs that help local climbers around the country take care of the places they play. The program provides climbing communities and volunteers with the training and resources they need to address conservation issues before they become dire.
Look for the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team at a climbing area or event near you. You can follow the Conservation Team on www.facebook.com/conservationteam and find out their latest location by visiting www.accessfund.org/whereisct.
Action Alert: Stop the Sale of Chilco Falls
The Kootenai County Commissioners are considering the sale of county property that includes Chilco Falls, the only accessible ice climbing in the area.
County officials argue that the site is inaccessible, not maintained, often unused, and that its sale could fund a more useful county effort. In February, Commissioner Jai Nelson suggested selling the property at public auction to use the funds for other properties. At an April meeting, Commissioner Nelson reported that a county attorney had been authorized to move forward with selling the property.
While the property does not feature park improvements, it has legitimate public access. After the County tried to dispose of the property in 1998 for similar reasons, the title was cleaned up and access was solidified. Fortunately, Commissioner Dan Green said that the commissioners are open to other suggestions for the site and your input is needed to present alternative solutions. “If these people are using it and we can create access for them, and find some funding mechanisms, I think we're all open to ideas," said Green.
The Kootenai Environmental Alliance has received several calls from concerned climbers and is willing to provide volunteers and help fundraise to improve access. Members of the Spokane Mountaineers and Kootenai Climbers join us in opposition to a sale.
Take Action Now!
Climbing at Utah’s San Rafael Swell Potentially Threatened by Energy Extraction
Last week the Access Fund and Outdoor Alliance (OA) defended recreation lands in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new, far-reaching oil shale and tar sands development plan on 2,431,000 acres of public land in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. One area being considered for development hosts the popular and unique climbing resources in Utah’s San Rafael Swell.
The OA argued that while the human-powered recreation community supports the prudent development of energy resources on public lands, there are great risks, and these world-class recreation resources are not the place to experiment with new industrial technologies. The OA advocated for the BLM’s Alternative 3, which outlines a cautious approach that requires adequate research and leaves an appropriate amount of land available for this crucial step. This alternative correctly weighs the experimental nature of the technology against the internationally significant outdoor recreation areas that sustain local economies and promise long-term economic benefits.
Read more on the OA website.
Managing Bouldering Impacts at Stone Fort
As one of the three locations known for hosting the Triple Crown Bouldering Series, Stone Fort boasts some of the best boulders in the southeast. And its growing popularity has led to an increase in user impacts.
But thanks to the proactive efforts of two local groups—Rock/Creek gear shop and the non-profit Wild Trails—local climbers and volunteers have rallied to mitigate these impacts. Wild Trails and Triple Crown funded an environmental impact study of the area and used the results to target several spots for improvement.
With help from the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, volunteers gathered this past March to plant trees in the Genghis Khan, Wave, Fire Crack, and Crescent areas. In all, 45 trees were planted, and green spaces were defined in the Wave/Fire Crack Area, Crescent Area, Space and Odyssey Area and the hillside below the Cable Route.
A huge thanks to all of the volunteers and businesses who donated their time and resources to mitigate these impacts.
Read more on the Rock/Creek website.
NRAC and Access Fund Secure Access to the Bubba City in the New River Gorge
The New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC) and the Access Fund are pleased to announce an access easement has secured the public parking area and approach trails to the extensive cliff line of Bubba City in the New River Gorge. In partnership with the Wild Rock West Virginia community, NRAC and the Access Fund co-hold the easement to protect climbing access for the next five years, with the option to later renew or make it permanent.
Located off Chestnutburg Road, the 15-car parking lot serves as the trailhead for access to more than 340 sport and traditional climbing routes of high quality Nuttall Sandstone. Bubba City is one of the most popular crags in the expansive New River Gorge region, and the trail network sees high and growing use.
The easement agreement provides legitimate access for the climbing community across Wild Rock—a growing 150-homesite community perched atop the New River Gorge. The existing parking area and trailhead will be maintained by NRAC and its committed group of local volunteers. "Climbers here are psyched,” says NRAC President Gene Kistler. “Wild Rock has delivered on a promise to help preserve public, recreational access through their land and into the gorge. This is a big first step toward securing long-term access to the climbing at Bubba City and sets a great example for park-adjacent development. Thanks to everyone that helped bring this together."
For Carl Frischkorn, founder of Wild Rock West Virginia, the easement represents an important aspect of the mountaintop community’s sustainability outlook. “We view sustainability not only in terms of light touch building and living practices, but also in how we are partnering with our neighbors to promote access to the outdoors,” Frischkorn said. “We are proud to partner with NRAC and Access Fund to help ensure that visiting and local climbers have unfettered paths to Bubba City.”
Access Fund offered its transactional expertise, provides an additional layer of risk management, and strengthens the commitment of all partners involved. “As the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign’s ninth project since its 2009 inception, the Bubba City Access Easement serves as a great template for how climbers and private landowners can partner to protect public access,” says Access Fund Access Director Joe Sambataro.
The National Park Service is committed to providing legitimate public access points to the New River Gorge National River. "In a park like New River Gorge, having partners willing to collaborate on access is a critical piece of the puzzle. We're delighted to work with NRAC, the Access Fund, and Wildrock on this important public access,” says Superintendent Don Striker. In addition, all the parties would like to thank Nathan Fetty, managing attorney at the West Virginia University College of Law’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, for donating his time and legal expertise to facilitate the project.
NRAC and the Access Fund ask the climbing community to follow the simple set of rules and requirements, which are outlined at the trailhead, and include limiting use to daytime hours and keeping your canine friends leashed on the trail. Compliance and education of others will help make this five-year agreement extend into a long-term partnership that provides climber access for generations to come.
Access Fund Hires Arizona Policy Analyst to Advocate for Climbers on Oak Flat Land Exchange
The Access Fund is pleased to announce that Curt Shannon has recently joined the organization as Arizona Policy Analyst. Curt will represent climbers and the Access Fund in their current opposition to HR 1904, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act—more commonly known as the Oak Flat Land Exchange Bill.
Curt was a founding member of The Friends of Queen Creek, The Queen Creek Coalition and The Concerned Climbers of Arizona and has been working closely with The Access Fund since 2004 in their efforts to maintain recreational access to the Oak Flat area and to prevent the ultimate destruction of this unique area.
The Access Fund and Arizona climbing community have been working for nearly a decade to save climbing at Oak Flat, which is at risk under the proposed Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011. The Act aims to exchange approximately 2,400 acres of public land for 5,300 acres held by a multi-national mining company for the creation of a massive copper mine. The public land to be exchanged includes the Oak Flat campground and a popular climbing area with hundreds of existing roped climbing routes and thousands of bouldering problems, which for years was home to the historic Phoenix Bouldering Contest.
Curt will work to increase recognition of the recreational value of Oak Flat in the minds of decision makers and the general public. At this point the land exchange bill must still be passed by the US Senate and then be signed by the President in order to become law.