Closed: Draper’s Bluff, Illinois
Owners of the popular Illinois climbing area, Draper's Bluff, published an open letter to the climbing community last month announcing the immediate closure of their land to climbing and other recreational use. Landowners recently discovered that the Illinois state legislature had amended state law and narrowed the liability protections afforded landowners who allow recreational access on their land. The Access Fund is collaborating with the Illinois Climbers Association and local regional coordinator on risk management strategies for the area, as well as a political advocacy strategy to address this issue at the state legislative level.
This amended state law now limits liability protections to hunting or recreational shooting only. Despite a long history of open access at Draper’s Bluff, the climber-friendly landowners felt compelled to close Draper’s to climbing due to increased risk of liability. However, the landowners have encouraged the climbing community to take action and urge amendment to the state’s recreational user statute and have left open the possibility that Draper’s could be reopened to climbing in the future.
Part of our collective political advocacy strategy will be a letter writing campaign to harness the voices of the climbing community. Please stay tuned to Illinois Climbers Association/Access Fund news and action alerts to learn how you can contribute to an organized effort to address this issue.
Read letter from the landowner.
For more information, visit the Illinois Climbers Association’s website
Mid-Atlantic Climbers Receive Special Thanks from Park Service
Last month, Access Fund headquarters received a letter of gratitude from the Shenandoah National Park superintendent, calling out the exemplary work of the Mid-Atlantic Climbers (MAC) at their recent Shenandoah Rockfest Adopt a Crag event. Nice letters from the Department of the Interior don’t come around often, and they are worthy of special kudos from the climbing community. This type of recognition helps establish climbers as a responsible user group, which benefits all of us!
Special thanks to Mid-Atlantic Climbers and all of their dedicated volunteers.
Obama Administration Takes Action to Safeguard Roadless Areas
Earlier this spring, the Access Fund and its Outdoor Alliance partners urged the Secretary of Agriculture to take a “time out” on new developments in Roadless Areas until conflicting court rulings regarding their protection could be resolved. We are happy to report that on May 28, the Obama Administration agreed with this approach and deferred key backcountry management decisions to the Secretary of Agriculture, helping conserve important undeveloped Forest Service Roadless Areas valued for recreation.
In 2001, President Clinton issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in order to protect these habitats from development. Then in 2005, the Bush Administration sought to replace the rule with a discretionary state petition process. Today, conflicting and pending court decisions leave the status of the Roadless Rule uncertain. As a result, 58.5 million acres of inventoried Roadless Areas are at risk, which could make them ineligible from future protections.
The new “time out” directive means that a high-level review is now required for proposed backcountry developments until permanent rules for these areas’ management can be resolved.
This is directive has positive implications for the protection of several popular climbing areas that lie within inventoried Roadless Areas across the West, including: Cochise Stronghold/Dragoon Mountains in Arizona, Blodgett Canyon and Bitterroot Mountains in Montana and Greyrock's and Big Rock Candy Mountain in Colorado. It also bodes well for many climbing areas that face directly into Roadless Areas, such as The Needles in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Queen Creek, AZ Land Exchange Bill Introduced Into the Congress
On May 20, Arizona’s US Representative Ann Kirkpatrick introduced a House bill authorizing the exchange of popular bouldering area Oak Flat to Resolution Copper Mining. The Queen Creek Coalition (QCC) local climbing organization quickly issued a statement indicating that they could not endorse legislation which authorizes the transfer and makes possible the eventual destruction of the unique climbing resource at Oak Flat. In early June, the Access Fund met with Congressional offices in Washington, DC and relayed the QCC’s updated position statement to US Senate and House staff who indicated that numerous hurdles still block this land exchange bill from advancing.
A large copper ore deposit sits near and potentially under what is referred to as “Oak Flat.” A little over a year ago, members of the Arizona rock climbing community formed the Queen Creek Coalition (QCC) to look after climber interests with regard to the proposed exchange of Oak Flat by Resolution Copper Mining. The land exchange and resulting mining operations will destroy or eliminate the climbing area.
While Resolution Copper has made good faith efforts to address concerns of the climbing community, they have indicated that the QCC’s primary concern to maintain the surface and ecology of the land above the mine can not be alleviated.
If passed, the new House bill (H.R. 2509) will authorize the land exchange and most likely lead to the destruction of the Oak Flat climbing environment. However, there are other concerns related to this exchange bill that could prevent it from passing, including the lack of an environmental analysis and impacts on Native American cultural resources. A hearing on the “companion” Senate bill (S. 409) has been scheduled for June 17.
For more information, visit the Energy & Natural Resource Committee or the Queen Creek Coalition’s website.
Copp, Dash, Johnson Feared Missing on China Expedition
June 5, 2009, Boulder, CO—Three Boulder, Colorado climbers—Jonathan Copp (age 35), Micah Dash (age 30), and Wade Johnson (age 24)—are overdue, having missed their flight on June 3 from Chengdu, China. Both Jonathan and Micah are Access Fund Athlete Ambassadors.
The three traveled to Mount Edgar (6818 meters/22,368 feet) on the Minya Konka massif, Western Sichuan Province, China. They embarked from base camp on May 20, 2009. There hasn’t been any contact with the climbers since.
Copp and Dash are highly experienced alpinists and professional climbers who have many years experience tackling big unclimbed mountains around the world. They received the Mugs Stump Award grant for this expedition from the American Alpine Club in 2008 but had to delay the climb until now, due to political unrest in the region. Johnson (a photographer with Sender Films) was accompanying Dash and Copp to base camp and did not intend to attempt the climb to the summit.
On June 4, 2009, a small party of experienced climbers, organized through the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, arrived in “base camp” and are preparing to continue up to the “advanced base camp” to gather information. Search efforts are being professionally coordinated by friends and colleagues in Boulder and more climbers from China and the US are being deployed to the area. Developing information will be shared as soon as it is available.
“We’re taking all the necessary steps to gather information about the climbers’ whereabouts and haven’t identified any complications beyond their lateness. Although we’re concerned, in alpine climbing it’s not unusual to for climbers to be delayed or out of contact for this long. We are still hopeful,” says Robb Shurr, spokesperson for the search effort.
A fund to help assist in rescue efforts has been set up at http://adventurefilm.org/.
No other information is currently available. As soon as more information becomes available it will be shared. Please do not contact friends and family due to the sensitive nature of the situation.
CRAG-VT Completes Purchase of Upper West Bolton Cliff
The Climbing Resource Access Group of Vermont (CRAG-VT) completed the subdivision and purchase of Upper West Bolton Cliff in Bolton, VT, establishing permanent protection of the area’s natural and recreational resources.
Upper West Bolton Cliff is one of Vermont’s most historic climbing areas with exceptional views, four-season hiking, and a treasure trove of botanical specimens. The 18-acre area’s rock faces, hilltop summit, and boulder field have been closed to recreational use in the past. Over the last 18 months, CRAG-VT worked with landowners, local officials, and sponsors to subdivide and acquire the cliff, keeping the area protected from development and open to outdoor enthusiasts forever.
“The success of this project could not have been achieved without the fantastic outpouring of support from our community,” said Travis Peckham, president of CRAG-VT. “We are very grateful to the local climbers, businesses, conservation groups, landowners, and outdoor enthusiasts who played a key role in protecting this very special place for future generations. Special thanks is due the Access Fund and The Conservation Alliance for their generous grants."
CRAG-VT is currently working with the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) to donate a conservation easement that will guarantee public access, climbing, and preservation of the cliff’s natural environment. This easement will ensure that the VLT will defend these rights on the land forever regardless of who owns it.
CRAG-VT is an Access Fund affiliate volunteer-run organization dedicated to preserving access and promoting conservation of Vermont’s climbing areas. Over its 10-year history, the group has been a resource for climbing access, species and habitat protection, trail maintenance and more. CRAG-VT has permanently protected three other climbing destinations in Vermont – the popular Lower West Bolton Cliff, the 82 Crag, and Bolton Quarry. Please visit www.cragvt.org to learn more.
Option Secured to Purchase Lower Index Town Wall, WA
The Access Fund announced today that an option agreement to purchase the 20-acre private inholding at the Lower Index Town Walls of Snohomish County, Washington has been secured. This popular climbing area boasts several hundred quality granite climbing routes and is only an hour drive from Seattle. Its proximity to a major metropolitan area and its short 5-minute approach from the trailhead make this cliff line a popular after work or after school climbing destination for the Seattle-Everett area.
The Lower Index Town Wall was closed earlier this year when local climbers saw No Trespassing signs suddenly posted around the cliff. The private landowner revoked access to the property after quarrying companies began displaying renewed interest in quarrying and granite removal. The landowner then began negotiations for sale of the property to two interested quarrying companies.
Upon news of potential sale of the crag, climbers quickly turned this threat into an opportunity. The Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition rallied together to research quarry regulations, comparable sales, and title history to determine the best path forward. Negotiations soon began to determine a fair market price and terms for a potential acquisition of the property by the climbing community. Jonah Harrison, member of the Washington Climbers Coalition and volunteer regional coordinator for the Access Fund led negotiations with the landowner, with support from Joe Sambataro, Access Director at the Access Fund. Matt Perkins, Darryl Cramer, and Andy Fitz of Washington Climbers Coalition also played critical support roles.
turned this threat into an opportunity."
After weeks of negotiations, the landowner agreed to an initial payment of $10,000 for an Option Agreement to purchase the property within 18 months. This agreement gives the Washington Climbers Coalition the sole right to purchase the property for long-term management, or assign the property to Washington State Parks. This option payment is made possible by a loan from the Access Fund, giving the Washington Climbers Coalition and the local climbing community the time and ability to fundraise toward a set goal. The American Alpine Club, as well as countless others, have offered their fundraising expertise to help complete the purchase. The Access Fund will continue to play a lead role with the Washington Climbers Coalition in transaction management, title work, and fundraising.
While the Option Agreement is secured and purchase price is set, there are other longer term issues that need to be addressed at this popular cliff. “Project Index” will address proper sanitation and parking. A preliminary wetland study is already underway to determine if a new parking area and vault toilet can be located on State Park land in a central area for access to both the Lower Wall and Upper Wall.
Announcements of the final fundraising goal are expected to be released by August of this year. In the meantime, the private landowner has agreed to reinstate public access during the 18-month option period, a privilege the climbing community can appreciate as summer in the Pacific Northwest unfolds.
For more information, contact Jonah Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Sambataro at email@example.com. Visit www.washingtonclimbers.org for new updates.
History of the area
The Lower Index Town Wall and surrounding cliffs have a climbing history going back nearly 50 years. The cliffs are beloved by sport climbers, traditional climbers, aid climbers and boulderers alike. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, the landowner’s family quarried parts of the Lower Town Wall for granite until the Burlington Northern railroad moved closer to the wall in the 1960s. Quarrying was put on hold, but ownership was maintained by the family heirs. Initial attempts were made by Washington State Parks and the Access Fund in 1999 to transfer the property to state park ownership, yet its high potential mineral value impeded any action at the time.
Photos: Ben Gilkison
Access Fund to Host Telluride Mountainfilm Zero Emissions Tour in Boulder
Access Fund announces today that it will host a stop on the Telluride Mountainfilm Zero Emissions Tour on June 10, 2009 at the Boulder Theater in downtown Boulder, CO.
Since 2000, Mountainfilm in Telluride has traveled the globe educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining. This celebration of the indomitable spirit is sure to incite change in local and global communities. In June of 2009, Telluride Mountainfilm is embarking on a new project: the Zero Emissions Tour, which is a 2,300 mile unsupported bike tour throughout Colorado, Wyoming & Utah.
The crew will ride to each stop along the tour sharing content from the film festival and recruiting others to join in the ride, getting more people out of their vehicles. This landmark tour will stop at The Boulder Theater on June 10th at 8pm to share their films and inspire members of the community to join the tour as they journey across the western states.
Ticket sale proceeds will benefit the Access Fund, part of Telluride Mountainfilm’s goal to help raise money for supported non-profits throughout the local communities on their tour. The Access Fund will host a raffle before the show for a chance to win some great outdoor gear, as well as a Limited Edition New Belgium Bicycle, graciously donated by New Belgium Brewery.
Tickets for the June 10th tour stop at the Boulder Theater are on sale now for $15 at http://www.bouldertheater.com/event_detail.php?id=1098. The show starts at 8:00pm. Doors open at 7:00pm.
First-Ever Hemispheric Wide Climbing Access Organization to be Hosted by 2009 Squamish Mountain Festival
Most of us have a tick list—climbs we research, study in photos, and seek out descriptions of in guidebooks to far away places. We may live in North America, but the climbs we've done and those we aspire to do are worldwide.
El Potrero Chico and other spots in Northern Mexico are emerging as the frontier of Northern American climbing. Routes in these areas are at the top of many climbers’ winter tick lists. Valle Cochamó, a deep valley in Northern Patagonia with perhaps the longest, ice-free granite on earth and countless untouched, unnamed walls, also captures climbers’ tick list-inspired wanderlust.
These places fill our dreams, but they are also linked in another way. El Potrero Chico and Valle Cochamó are both unprotected. No legal protection keeps them open. Unlike here in the United States, no local, regional, or national organization exists to fight threatened closures and restrictions. These and other emblematic climbing areas in the Western Hemisphere are, literally, in climbing limbo—neglected, with no preservation for our climbing future.
"I would call it 'no man's land',” states Alex Catlin, the principal developer of El Potrero Chico, who has been climbing there for 20 years. "Here, most undeveloped land is claimed by the Federal government, the state government, the ejido or local commun, and at least one private owner. He continues, “The governmental park system is almost non-existent. We need so much help! But without direction, we tread water."
Access Pan America is the first-ever campaign to keep climbing areas open and protect the climbing environment across the Western Hemisphere. Access Pan America is a fledgling grassroots effort of individual climbers, climbing organizations (including the Access Fund), federations, outdoor clubs, and corporate supporters. The network will meet for the first time during the Squamish Mountain Festival, presented by ARC'TERYX, August 12-16, 2009. The inaugural meeting is sponsored by the Petzl Foundation, which will provide travel scholarships to access activists from across the Americas.
Other corporate partners, such as Mountain Gear, are supporting the travel of individual participants. Individuals and organizations that want to attend and may require a travel scholarship are invited to apply directly at www.accesspanamerica.com.
The Access Pan America/Petzl meeting is a four-day forum of discussions with the intention of creating a climbers’ access organization for the Western Hemisphere. We can't predict the form the future Access Pan America organization will take. That, after all, is the mission of the forum. But, we have heard enough to say that we will emerge with a commitment to work together in an organized way.
Climbing access organizations in the Western Hemisphere are diverse—from local climbing clubs to the recently launched nationwide access organizations in Brazil and Canada, to the almost 20-year-old Access Fund in the United States, and the well-established Climbers' Access Society of British Columbia. A critical mass of organizations and interest exist to create local, regional, and national climbers’ access networks in most of Latin America.
The principal organizer of Access Pan America is Armando Menocal, who is usually credited as the founder of the Access Fund. He started the organization in 1990 and ran it through its first years. When asked how Access Pan America came about, Menocal states, “For years I've been hearing from climbers all over Latin America, asking for help on their access problems. I kept saying that someday we'd have to respond. I finally realized that we could delay no longer, and that the first step should be a forum to bring together as many activists as we could, and go from there.”
Access Pan America includes representatives of the established access organizations in Brazil, Canada, and the US, as well as individual climbers such as Alex Catlin, Rolando Garibotti, and Juan Laguna. With the help of the Petzl Foundation and other sponsors, the Access Pan America campaign expects to include participants from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, and Peru. Visit www.accesspanamerica.com to discuss access problems in your area, apply for a travel scholarship to the forum, or comment on Access Pan America.
Laurel Knob is Paid For!
After more than three years of fundraising efforts, the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) made the final payment for the acquisition of Laurel Knob in North Carolina. Arguably the tallest cliff in the eastern United States, Laurel Knob boasts stunning water-grooved granite routes up to ten pitches long. During the course of the fundraising efforts, the Access Fund awarded the group three separate grants totaling $25,000 to help pay off the acquisition of this 50-acre tract of cliff line. We are proud of all the work that the CCC and their supporters have done to put this treasure in the hands of climbers.
For more information, visit the CCC website.
Yellow Bluff Officially Opens!
For climbers in the Southeast, April 18 started like any other Saturday––with one big difference. This particular Saturday marked the re-opening of the historic Yellow Bluff cliff line. Approximately 35 volunteers celebrated the crag’s re-opening and stuck around to help build a trail, place anchors, put up a couple of new routes, and, of course, climb.
Climbers’ children cut the opening ribbon, creating a surreal moment for the crowd. The purchase of this cliff means that future generations will have the opportunity to climb at Yellow Bluff.
The Access Fund is proud of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and all of their supporters for this landmark acquisition. For more information, visit Southeastern Climbers Coalition website.
Photo by Andrew Kornylak
City Support Garnered for Climbing at Auburn Quarry
Last month Climbing Resource Advocates of Greater Sacramento (CRAGS) presented to the Auburn City Council, requesting a proposed resolution to the climbing restrictions in the Auburn Quarry. The quarry features over 50 routes (with potential for up to 150 routes) on quality limestone cliffs, yet has been closed since 2003. Both the City Council and the Mayor expressed their support for a resumption of climbing at the quarry. Although the decision is still at the discretion of California Department of Parks and Recreation, CRAGS is very encouraged by this support and feels that it will bring us one step closer to re-opening climbing at the Quarry.
For more information, visit CRAGS website.
Photo: Eric Whalen
Climbing Management Plan for North Area of McDowell Sonoran Preserve Approved!
After five years of persistent and cooperative negotiations between local climbers from the Arizona Mountaineering Club (AMC), the City of Scottsdale, and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission, the rock climbing plan for the north area of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve was approved. The plan includes crags that range from Half and Half Wall and Lost Wall on the west to Tom's Thumb, Gardeners, and Morrells Wall in the middle to Sven Towers, Sven Slab, and Granite Ballroom on the east, with Hogs Heaven being the southern most crag. This approval marks the preservation of all historic rock climbing in the preserve—a major win for local climbers.
In order to preserve the land and its ecology, the AMC worked with city officials to establish sustainable use expectations for the area, including designated approaches to the crags and prohibition of new bolting to minimize environmental impacts. Climbers will also be expected to comply with the Management Plan for the preserve, which includes no camping, fires, or other practices prohibited by the city.
To learn the acceptable approach trails to access these crags, climbers are asked to review maps available on the Arizona Mountaineering Club’s website. New trailhead locations are now being planned and will be built over the next several years. Climbers should be aware that as new trails are built some old approach trails will eventually be closed, making many existing guidebooks out-of-date regarding access points. The AMC will continue to communicate updates as they unfold.
Please direct any questions concerning the plan for rock climbing in the McDowell Mountains to Erik Filsinger, AMC Land Advocacy Chair and Rock Climbing Liaison with City of Scottsdale Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Scott Hamilton, the City of Scottsdale Trails Planner at email@example.com.
Climbing Access Update for Wichita Mountains, OK
Over the last few months the Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition (WMCC) and the Access Fund have been watching the land-use planning process closely at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and taking steps to ensure continued climbing access.
The two organizations have worked together to draft formal comments to the ongoing Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the refuge, obtain a support letter from the Oklahoma Congressional delegation for continued climbing access, and file a Freedom of Information Act request to determine whether the refuge or the Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional office were planning a climbing ban similar to the one that closed climbing at Illinois’ Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge in 2007.
In March, Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith traveled to Oklahoma and, along with Access Fund Regional Coordinator Aaron Gibson, met with the refuge manager to discuss how the climbing community might address any climbing access concerns at the refuge. The public will have one more opportunity to comment on the proposed management plan for the refuge. Learn more about the history of this access issue.
For more information and updates, contact the WMCC: www.wichitamountains.org/contact.html
Friends of Williamson Rock Working with the USFS in California
In late February, the United States Forest Service (USFS) announced $85K in funding for a thorough environmental assessment of the habitat at Williamson Rock. The climbing area outside of Los Angeles was closed as a precautionary measure to protect the mountain yellow-legged frog until a study could be funded. Since funding allocation was announced, the Friends of Williamson Rock (FoWR) have continued advocating for climbing access during the study planning process. The FoWR attended a meeting in March with representatives of the Angeles National Forest to discuss measures that would both allow climbing access to Williamson Rock, while enhancing the protection of the frog. For regular updates, please visit the FoWR blog.
Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition Working to Protect Lower Index Town Wall, WA
The Index Town Walls of Washington feature one of the best concentrations of steep, clean granite cracks and face climbs in Western North America. Prior to its 50-year climbing history, parts of the Lower Town Wall were quarried for granite before the Burlington Northern railroad moved closer to the wall in the 1960s. While the Country and Upper Town Wall are protected on State Park and National Forest land, the family who ran the quarrying operation still own the 20-acre parcel that includes the Inner Walls, Lower Town Wall, and Quarry. This area contains such classics as Thin Fingers, Godzilla, City Park, and Toxic Shock.
The landowners have historically allowed public access and climbing. However, recent interest from quarrying companies led the landowner to post no trespassing signs earlier in March. The Access Fund and Washington Climbers Coalition are working closely together to address the access issue and work with the landowner to find an alternative solution, such as permanent protection through acquisition in the near future. The Access Fund and WCC thank the climbing community, Washington State Parks, and other advocates for your support. For more information, property map, and updates, please view: www.washingtonclimbers.org/Current/Town.htm.
Portion of Near Trapps at the Gunks closed to climbing
The Near Trapps at the Gunks offer nearly a mile of classic and popular climbs just south of Route 44-55. In 1993, the Access Fund worked with the Mohonk Preserve, Open Space Institute, and Friends of Shawangunks to protect access to the Near Trapps, but a portion remains on private land. Earlier this month, a portion of the Near Trapps has been closed to climbing. This includes land below the cliff to above cliff line and starts approximately at Eenie Meenie and continues south about 200 feet. Climbers are asked to respect the no-trespassing signs and obtain access to climbs further south by rappelling in from the Millbrook Ridge Trail. Gunks Climbers’ Coalition is working on the issue and looking into potential solutions. For more information and updates, please view: www.gunksclimbers.org/.
Access Fund Announces First Round Grant Recipients for 2009
Access Fund Announces First Round Grant Recipients for 2009
In the first round of the Climbing Grants Preservation program for 2009, the Access Fund awarded over $20,000 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 round of grants, the Access Fund is supporting ten proposals, representing a wide array of projects from grassroots start-up and outreach, to acquisitions, trail work, climber education, kiosks, and research surveys. The Access Fund applauds the grant applicants and climbing community across the nation for a great start to 2009.
The following grants were awarded this round:
Southeast Climbers Coalition (SCC) – Steele Acquisition
A grant was awarded to SCC to go toward the purchase of over 25 acres known as Steele in Alabama. The Steele property features 1,418 linear feet of cliff line and includes access, parking, and land above the cliff. Steele has been permanently closed since 1987 but features a rich history of traditional and sport route development in the 70s and 80s with potential for new bouldering development. Steele is located close to metro areas and is visible on the drive to Horse Pens 40.
Dr. Rob Ramey – Review Paper on Raptor Closures
A grant was awarded to Dr. Rob Ramey for the research and production of a scientific publication that provides an objective and well-documented peer-reviewed analysis of the literature on human disturbance to nesting raptors. This paper will provide a quantitative and reasoned basis for land managers and climbers to make informed choices on the appropriate scale and timing of recreational closures for cliff nesting raptors.
Friends of Indian Creek (FOIC) – Organizational Start-up
A grant was awarded to FOIC to assist with start-up costs, including 501(c)(3) non profit fees and incorporation. This process is a key step for organizational fundraising toward future projects.
Yosemite National Park – Climber’s Brochure
A grant was awarded to Yosemite National Park for the creation and printing of a brochure for climbers visiting Yosemite. The Access Fund, Yosemite Climbing Association, the American Alpine Club, Friends of YOSAR, and the Yosemite Mountaineering School have participated in drafting the brochure, which will include low-impact expectations, safety information, maps, and descriptions of various climbing opportunities in the park. The brochures will be distributed widely at visitor centers, campgrounds, outdoor stores, and climbing schools in the area as well as online at NPS and partner websites.
Four Corners Climbing Coalition (4CCC) – Hawkins Preserve Kiosk
A grant was awarded to 4CCC for construction of a kiosk at Hawkins Preserve, a popular local bouldering area on private property in Cortez, Colorado. The site was closed in 2007 but reopened with 4CCC’s efforts in partnership with the landowner. The kiosk will meet a critical need to communicate permit requirements at the trailhead.
Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) – Rumney Rocks Trail and Staging
A grant was awarded to AMC to help fund a professional trail crew for a one-month project to perform heavy trail reconstruction at the popular Waimea and Main cliffs at Rumney. Further work will be done in coordination with local volunteers and the Rumney Climbers Association. This project will address recent impacts of Rattlesnake fire in 2008, in agreement with the newly adopted Rumney Rocks Management Plan.
Climbers of Hueco Tanks (CHTC) – Organizational Start-up
A grant was awarded to CHTC to assist with start-up costs, including 501(c)(3) non profit fees and incorporation. CHTC is a newly formed local climbing organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing rock climbing at Hueco Tanks Historic Site with projections of 1,000 members within the three years.
Access Fund Land Foundation (AFLF) – Operating Funds
A grant was awarded to the AFLF to cover expenses for the continued stewardship and management of Golden Cliffs, Unaweep Canyon, and Society Turns in Colorado. The AFLF is a separate non profit entity incorporated in 1990 to hold title of these climbing areas.
The BLM-Bishop Field Office – Bishop Climbing Ethics Brochure
A grant was awarded to the BLM-Bishop Field Office to help with the creation of a climbing ethics brochure. The brochure will feature low-impact climbing practices specific to Bishop, a sensitive climbing area on BLM land and Inyo National Forest. Greater distribution of materials at campgrounds is necessary to educate the growing number of climbers bouldering at Bishop each year.
Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council (LVCLC) – Education Materials
A grant was awarded to LVCLC for education materials, including membership brochures, Leave-No-Trace membership, and banners. The LVCLC recently restructured and new materials are needed to grow membership and outreach.
About the Access Fund
Since 1991, the Access Fund has been the only national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. The Access Fund supports and represents over 1.6 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Five core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, and education. For more information visit www.accessfund.org.
Access Fund Hosts Land Conservation Summit
Access Fund Hosts Land Conservation Summit
If you’ve kept up with climbing access headlines at all over the past few years, you’ve seen the trend—Local Climbing Organization Buys Crag X. As the Access Fund looks to the future of climbing access in America, we see private land pressures continuing to increase, and as a result, LCO ownership and management of climbing areas will continue to grow. Our mission here at Access Fund headquarters is to help build the capacity of LCOs to take on these complex responsibilities. To this end, the Access Fund hosted the Land Conservation Summit last week, a three-day event that brought leaders from LCOs together to learn and share best practices around land acquisition and protection.
Read a firsthand account of the summit
About the Access Fund
Since 1991, the Access Fund has been the only national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. The Access Fund supports and represents over 1.6 million climbers nationwide in ALL forms of climbing; rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Five core programs support the mission on national and local levels: public policy, stewardship & conservation (including grants), grassroots activism, climber education, and land acquisition. For more information visit www.accessfund.org.
Hueco Tanks’ Grenade Boulder Climbing Site Temporarily Closed
From: Texas Parks & Wildlife
EL PASO, Texas – Rock climbers recently noticed canyon wrens nesting at a popular climbing site at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. Due to concerns about disturbing the nesting birds, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has temporarily closed Grenade Boulder until hatchlings fledge. It is expected to be closed for about a month.
Signage designating a temporary closure of the North Mountain locale was erected March 21, according to site Superintendent Wanda Olszewski. The temporary closing, she said, was requested and endorsed by the Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition, whose volunteers were working on an erosion control project when the nest was noticed.
“This is the first case I’m aware of in recent years, or possibly the first ever, of a climber-requested closure,” Olszewski said.
TPWD, which operates Hueco Tanks, and the climbing community haven’t always enjoyed such favorable relations, so park staff were impressed that Hueco Tanks climbing coalition president Nikias Kiehnle and fellow climber Andy Klier came to them with the request for the temporary closure after they noticed the nest under the Grenade Boulder overhang.
Canyon wrens, as with all native birds, are protected by various federal statutes. The attractive songbirds are uncommon to locally common permanent residents in the Trans-Pecos and Texas Hill Country, TPWD wildlife biologist Mark Lockwood said.
While the Grenade Boulder climbing route is temporarily closed, dozens of other comparable climbing routes remain open in the park’s North Mountain self-guided area.
Preservation of Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site’s cultural and natural features is the site’s primary mission and is required by law. Some climbing routes have been permanently closed over the years to protect archeological sites and other resources. But the park’s mission also requires that the public be afforded recreational opportunities, and the staff works with affected user groups to try to accommodate their needs and provide the best visitor experience possible.
TPWD archeologists in 2007 assessed several areas at Hueco Tanks for signs of risk to archeological deposits, such as loss of vegetation, erosion or other changes that had occurred over time. Photographs of the sites were compared to photos taken of the same areas in previous years to determine user impact. Most of the areas were found to be in good condition, but those which indicated significant changes, such as the north face of Mushroom Boulder, were closed to further activities to protect valuable cultural resources.
Opened as a state park in 1970, the 860-acre site encompasses several clusters of 400-foot high mountains of granite-like rock that rise out of the flat Chihuahuan Desert terrain. Rock basins, from which the park gets its name, have served as a natural rain-collection system for millennia. Today, the state park represents both a natural and cultural oasis, where prehistoric peoples left a treasure trove of more than 2,000 pictographs and petroglyphs, some believed to date back several thousand years. More than 200 painted masks attributed to the Jornada Mogollon culture have been discovered at Hueco Tanks -- the largest collection of painted masks in North America.
In the 1980s, Hueco Tanks earned an international reputation as a top rock-climbing spot, especially during mild winter months. In addition, a growing number of school groups from El Paso and throughout West Texas find the park to be an outstanding outdoor classroom.
Because of graffiti and other past damage to some of Hueco Tanks’ invaluable archeological treasures and its fragile desert ecosystem, park users’ access to the park has been limited in recent years in accordance with a public use plan. Park visitors must watch a 20-minute TPWD video that explains the history of Hueco Tanks, the importance of conserving its natural and cultural resources, and defines the park’s self-guided and guided-only areas
North Mountain, with roughly four miles of marked trails, is open to unguided access for up to 70 persons at a time, while West Mountain, East Mountain and East Spur areas can be visited only on tours led by park staff, trained volunteers and commercial guides. Visitors also can choose from guided hiking, birding, rock climbing and bouldering tours, as well as three levels of rock art tours.
For more information, call Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site at (915) 857-1135.