Summit Rock Opens to Climbing After 5-Year Closure
In early October, Sanborn County re-opened Summit Rock in the Bay Area of California after 5 years of closure. The year-round closure was sparked by concerns over nesting peregrine falcons and other management challenges that come with a forested urban park, such as night-time partying and vandalism.
The Access Fund, our Regional Coordinator Paul Minault, and numerous local climbers have been working with the County to address these challenges. Generous financial support from Planet Granite Climbing Yoga & Fitness helped fund an expert raptor biologist to advise the County and demonstrate that climbing, when done outside of the standard seasonal nesting period, will not disrupt the raptors. Local climbers also stepped up to volunteer with the County's peregrine falcon monitoring program, which is paramount to keeping the area open in future years.
Climbing is now open seasonally on weekends under a free permit system that limits access to 35 people per day. To receive a free permit via email, call the Parks Department reservation line at (408) 355-2201.
New Study Shows Climbers are Main Recreational Users of Boulder Canyon
Boulder Climbing Community and the Access Fund announce the release of a Boulder Canyon User Study facilitated by Travis Flohr of University of Colorado Denver. The study ran from May 2012 to October 2013 to document climbing activities in Boulder Canyon.
Boulder Canyon, located in Boulder County, Colorado, comprises an approximately 15-mile long corridor from west to east. Land ownership in this area is a mix of National Forest, county, city, and private lands. The canyon provides a wide array of recreation opportunities for rock climbing, fishing, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking and scenic driving. The 1,500 routes, extensive variety, and great scenery make Boulder Canyon one of the most popular climbing areas in the state.
Based on the study, the estimated number of climber visits per year within Boulder Canyon is between 32,000 and 43,000. Out of a total of 472 observed canyon users during the observation period, 309 were climbers, or 65%, making climbers the largest documented user group in Boulder Canyon. The study also showed that the busiest and most popular climbing areas, in order include: Animal World, Avalon, and Castle Rock. Summer and fall are the most frequent climbing seasons, with trad climbing and sport climbing making up the majority of use. According to the study, the high-use areas are also the areas with the most observed erosion on approach routes, parking areas, base areas, and descent routes. This is likely due to climbers’ foot traffic causing erosion and vegetation damage in areas where there aren’t adequate access trails.
“This study is an important step in the formation of a stewardship coalition for Boulder Canyon,” says Joe Sambataro, Access Director of the Access Fund. Due to the complexity of land ownership, there are currently no uniform or comprehensive climbing management plans in Boulder Canyon. In order to protect access for all users, Boulder Climbing Community and the Access Fund are calling for an increased investment in sustainable management. “By showing the different needs and impacts of climbing activities in the canyon, the study provides a valuable data point to encourage cooperation amongst all involved stakeholders to help identify priorities for future stewardship.”
“Climbers are not merely users of the land,” says Roger Briggs, Operations Manager of the Boulder Climbing Community. “We encourage climbers to minimize their impacts when climbing, but also to be actively involved as stewards in cooperation with land owners and agencies.” Most recently, Boulder Climbing Community, Action Committee for Eldorado, Flatirons Climbing Council, and local climbers have been tirelessly volunteering on restoration of local trails damaged in September’s severe flooding. “It is great to see climbers giving back to the lands where they climb,” says Roger Briggs.
About the Boulder Canyon User Study
The purpose of the study was to provide information on climbing activities to local land agencies and local nonprofit organizations to help inform and prioritize future stewardship projects as part of a larger Boulder Canyon Stewardship Coalition. The author is Travis Flohr, who is currently pursuing a Design and Planning PhD in the sustainability and healthy environments track at the University of Colorado Denver. The study analyzed 524 online user studies, 25 car counts at major pullouts throughout the canyon, 8 additional user surveys, and 5 user counts. The study can serve as a model for other dispersed recreation areas across the country and be improved upon to provide additional concrete results. For more information, see boulderclimbingcommunity.net.
Climbers Help Stall Oak Flat Land Exchange
The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act came to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote on September 26th, along with three proposed amendments. The bill was expected to pass the House fairly easily, as its nearly identical predecessor in the 112th Congress did last year. However, the bill was tabled because Republican leadership did not have the votes necessary to defeat the third amendment, which would essentially kill the bill.
It took an enormous, well-coordinated lobbying effort to get this result. In the weeks leading up to the scheduled floor vote, intense face-to-face lobbying was done by several Native American groups, environmental groups, and the Access Fund. Access Fund members should be proud of their significant contribution in stalling this bill—helping to bombard members of Congress with nearly 1,000 opposition letters.
It is likely that sponsors of this legislation will make additional efforts to pass the bill in this Congress, but our collective actions have caused them to delay a vote until they believe they have the necessary votes for passage. At least temporarily, we have helped to stifle the momentum that this legislation had in the House.
Government Shutdown Closes Climbing Areas Across the Country
When the government shut down nearly two weeks ago, we lost access to many climbing areas across the country. Those of you who had trips planned to Yosemite or other staffed public lands were left out in the cold. Although some public lands and trails that do not require staff have remained open, most services and amenities have been shut down. Our members have generated nearly 1,000 letters to Congress in the past two weeks, letting our representatives know that this is having a real impact on real people. Even though it might seem like a futile effort, these letters are getting read and are helping to increase the pressure on both sides to find a timely resolution to this situation. If you haven’t yet written a letter, we encourage you to do so. Visit our Action Center to quickly identify your representatives and fire off a letter with your story.
Iowa Climber's Coalition Newest Joint Member Affiliate
We are pleased to welcome the Iowa Climber's Coalition (ICC) as the Access Fund’s newest joint member affiliate. The ICC works to steward and protect Iowa's climbing areas, like Pictured Rocks State Park. ICC is also working to open access to climbing on private land in Iowa. The Access Fund is excited to expand our partnership with ICC to include joint membership. You can now 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 today!
Washington Access Roads at Risk
The Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest is going through a process to identify Forest Service roads for possible closure due to factors such as federal budget cuts, road washouts, and varying ideas about where and what kind of access is appropriate or desirable.
The Forest Service is taking comments for this identification process, and climbers need to participate or our voice will not be heard. The Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest is working with an informal Sustainable Roads Cadre, a diverse group of partners and stakeholders including Washington Climbers Coalition, to conduct a survey on the most important roads for public access. This information will be used to make future decisions about road projects, such as upgrades, closures, decommissioning, and road-to-trail conversions.
We need your help to review this list of the 26 Mt. Baker Snoqualmie Forest Service roads and the climbing areas and peaks that they access. Then take a short 15 minute survey and specify the roads that you commonly use, making special note for roads that see few other user groups.
Southeastern Climbers Coalition Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC), one of the leading local climbing organizations in the country, is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They began protecting climbing access at Sunset rock in 1993, and have been pivotal in protecting access to dozens of climbing areas across the Southeast, from Tennessee Wall to Foster Falls to Boat Rock. SCC has been particularly successful in purchasing privately owned climbing areas. They currently own 6 crags and lease 2 others. SCC has been a strong and steady Access Fund partner since their inception, and we're proud to congratulate them on 20 great years. Celebrations and a special member drive are well underway. For more information go to www.seclimbers.org.
The Vision Lives On - Southeastern Climbers Coalition | 2013 from Luke Padgett on Vimeo.
Boulder Climbing Community Signs MOU with Forest Service
The Boulder Climbing Community (BCC) and Boulder Ranger District of the US Forest Service (USFS) finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to partner together on stewardship projects in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. There is a growing need to address stewardship in the canyon and BCC has taken the lead to work with the various land agencies and partners to mobilize volunteers and resources that ensure climber access is sustainable for generations to come. Specifically, the MOU documents the cooperation between the USFS and BCC to work together towards stewardship and conservation programs and projects. MOUs like this play an important role in working cooperatively with land managers. Way to go BCC!
See the MOU!
Access Fund Reaches $1 Million Mark with Second Round of 2013 Grants
The Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded over $1 million to local organizations, climbers and public agencies through the Climbing Preservation Grants Program. “We are thrilled to have put over $1 million dollars back into local climbing communities over the last two decades,” says Joe Sambataro, Access Director. “These funds empower climbers to improve their climbing areas, showing land managers that climbers are responsible stewards.” The Climbing Preservation Grants Program has been in place since the Access Fund’s inception in 1991, and awards up to $40,000 in grant money a year to local climbing communities with worthy projects that preserve or enhance climbing access. This second round of 2013 grant recipients has set the organization over the $1 million mark. We are pleased to announce funding for the following projects:
Friends of Muir Valley: Emergency Road Erosion Control – We are pleased to announce a grant toThe Friends of Muir Valley (FoMV) to create a retaining wall to reclaim 10 feet of essential right-of-way to the emergency access road, which was lost during a flash flood in July. After the flood, the rear wheel of an ambulance fell off the edge of the road during a climber rescue, with the paramedics and patient inside. A four-wheel drive vehicle had to pull it back onto the road. This project will safeguard this vital access point, allowing first responders to safely reach the entire valley climbing area, which covers 400 acres and 350 different climbing routes.
Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council: Red Rocks Education and Awareness – We are pleased to announce a grant to The Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council to continue stocking human waste disposal bags at Red Rocks (which currently average about 2,100 bags per year), install more dispensers throughout the climbing area, and provide educational signage regarding proper human waste disposal. This project will help mitigate climber impacts in high traffic areas like the Calico Hills, Kraft Boulders, and Black Velvet Canyon, thus preserving both culturally and ecologically sensitive sites as the number of climbers grows.
Minnesota Climbers Association: Save Sandstone Bouldering – Nearly ten years ago, the Minnesota Climbers Association (MCA) worked with private landowners to gain access to the high-quality bouldering area in Sandstone, Minnesota. This past fall, the MCA got word that the landowners were looking to sell the property, putting public access at imminent risk. The landowners generously agreed to give local climbers the first opportunity to purchase the land. With support from MCA and Access Fund, the Parks & Trail Council of Minnesota (PTCM) has agreed to purchase the property to be integrated into the nearby Banning State Parks. This grant will help PTCM purchase and hold the 108 acres of prime bouldering.
Mohonk Preserve: Climber Education at Lime Kiln Loop – We are pleased to announce a grant to The Mohonk Preserve, in partnership with the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition, to promote climber safety, ethics, etiquette, and ecological responsibility among climbers who access a popular local bouldering area via the Lime Kiln Loop trail. The grant money will fund the design and installation of interpretive/wayfinding signs, as well as three on-site public education programs that inform climbers about the area’s rich ecology and natural history. The project goal is to strike a balance between climber access, safety, and ecological protection.
Ouray Ice Park, Inc.: South Park Bathroom – Every year more psyched climbers enjoy The Ouray Ice Park than in years past. With this increase in visitation comes significant impact. We are pleased to announce a grant to The Ouray Ice Park to construct non-permanent and self-contained bathroom facilities in the South Park area of the park, which does not currently contain accessible bathroom facilities. Human waste will be removed for proper treatment, minimizing climber impact in this world-class park. This project will demonstrate to land managers and owners that the climbing community is serious about minimizing our impact on this truly unique resource.
Rumney Climbers Association: Capacity Building – We are pleased to offer a grant to the Rumney Climbers Association (RCA), which has been in existence since the early 1990s and was one of the first beneficiaries of an Access Fund land acquisition. In order to conserve and maintain the wonderful rock and ice climbing resources at Rumney, RCA will use the grant money to obtain their 501c3 nonprofit status. This will enable them a variety of benefits to more effectively pursue their mission to protect and steward the Rumney climbing area.
Salt Lake Climbers Alliance: Technical Rock Work Tools – For the past decade, the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA) has organized half a dozen stewardship projects each year to improve and maintain climbing areas. This grant will help SLCA purchase technical rock work tools, safety protection for volunteers, and cleaning and maintenance materials for tools so that they can better execute their stewardship mission. The tools will be used to construct high quality trails and staging areas, made of natural long lasting materials, at crags across the Wasatch Range.
Access Fund Welcomes Illinois Climbers Association as Newest Joint Member Affiliate
We are pleased to welcome the Illinois Climbers Association (ICA) as the Access Fund’s newest joint member affiliate. The ICA has been working to steward and protect access to Illinois' climbing areas—places like Jackson Falls and Holy Boulders. The Access Fund is excited to expand our partnership with ICA to include joint membership. You can now 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
Carolina Climbers Revive Climbing at Rocky Face
Central North Carolina has a newly opened climbing area, thanks to the work of Carolina Climber's Coalition (CCC) and Boone Climbers Coalition (BCC). "Rocky Face is an old quarry with routes that were developed in the 80s," says Mike Trew, CCC/BCC board member. Last year, Alexander County established the new Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area, offering hiking, picnicking, and more. They sought out their in-state local climbing organizations for help to open and manage the area's climbing. CCC and BCC representatives jumped at the opportunity, and began an ongoing partnership with the county to promote and steward Rocky Face. Local climbers recently replaced many of the crag's aging fixed anchors, reviving more routes for climbers to enjoy. Rocky Face is about an hour north of Charlotte. A permit is required to climb.
Conservation Team Heads West
After a busy spring and summer leading stewardship projects at crags across the east, the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team has crossed the Mississippi to show our western climbing areas some love. Eddie and Claire just finished a trail project at Mount Rushmore National Monument, working alongside National Monument staff and volunteers from the Blackhills Climber’s Coalition. The team then made their way to Salt Lake City for the summer Outdoor Retailer tradeshow, and is now in Washington State, where they will work with the Washington Climbers Coalition and the Wenatchee National Forest to repair and improve the descent trail off Castle Rock. The team will wrap up the month of August doing trail work at Ruth Lake and attending the Craggin’ Classic, hosted by the American Alpine Club and the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance.
Check out Eddie & Claire’s schedule here.
Pledge Your Next Birthday to Climbing Access
Did you know that one in five climbing areas in the United States is threatened by an access issue? Starting this year, you can pledge your birthday to help protect America’s climbing, and we’ll use 100% of the money you raise to support climbing access and conservation projects. It’s simple—whether your birthday is next week or 11 months from now, take the pledge. When your birthday approaches, we’ll remind you to start a fundraising campaign and ask your friends and family to honor your birthday by giving the gift of climbing rather than presents, drinks, or a nice dinner. Four times a year, the Access Fund will choose one inspiring birthday fundraiser to win a $500 gear grant to CAMP USA!
Pledge your birthday!
Rate Your Favorite Climbing Preservation Grants
Round 2 of Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grant Applications have been submitted and it is time again for members to rate for their favorite projects. Each year, the Access Fund grants over $40,000 to projects that improve climbing access and conserve the climbing environment throughout the United States. We have seven great proposals this round, ranging from crag acquisition to the purchase of technical trail tools and waste management at some of America’s most popular climbing destinations. Members – check your e-mail for an opportunity to rate these grant projects. If you’re not already a member join today for an opportunity to rate these worthy projects! The deadline for rating projects is August 20th.
Learn more about these projects.
Summit Rock Call for Volunteers
After a long-standing closure, Santa Clara County Department of Parks and Recreation (“County Parks”) is now planning to re-open Summit Rock, a popular crag in the California Bay Area, to climbing through a permit-only system. In order to do this, County Parks is asking for volunteers to help monitor peregrine falcons and educate park visitors about falcon protection. Volunteers will need to attend training on falcon behavior, data collection, and radio usage. The park will be open from 8am to 4pm, Thursday through Sunday, to climbers who have obtained a permit. The future of climbing at Summit Rock depends on good volunteer participation, so we encourage local climbers to volunteer.
Contact Senior Ranger Flint Giles about the volunteer position! You can reach the park office at (408) 867-9959.
What Will the New NPS Wilderness Climbing Policy Really Mean for Climbing & Bolting?
Back in May, we announced that the National Park Service had finally issued its official policy—Director’s Order #41—on fixed anchor use in Wilderness. The order ensures that there will be no permanent ban on fixed anchors in NPS managed Wilderness, which brought relief to many concerned climbers across the country. But there are some changes and new requirements, including prior authorizations, that climbers should be aware of. Access Fund Senior Policy Advisor Jason Keith blogs about what this new policy really means for Wilderness climbing and bolting.
Check out the full story on our blog.
Access Fund to Convene Education Summit
This November, Access Fund will convene leaders from local climbing organizations, gyms, pro climbers, and other climbing advocates in the Gunks of New York to tackle one of the most pressing issues facing our sport today: instilling climbers with a stewardship and low-impact ethic to protect climbing access. With the influx of climbers being introduced to the sport (often through an indoor gym setting), impacts to access, the environment, and user experiences are growing. This conference will bring together members of the broader climbing community to discuss and formulate strategies for educational outreach to lessen these impacts to our climbing areas.
Contact Ty Tyler for more details.
Climbing Access at Beddows Dome in Southern Colorado
The Southern Colorado Climbers Resource Action Group (SoCO CRAG) and the Access Fund are pursuing climbing access at Beddows Dome, a granite trad climbing area near Cañon City, Colorado. The property is managed by the Colorado State Land Board, which commonly leases land to raise money for state education initiatives. We have submitted a lease application to the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners and are awaiting the final hearing on September 5th. If approved by the Commission, a small portion of Beddows Mountain would be leased to SoCO CRAG and insured by the Access Fund, offering a new traditional climbing area to southern Colorado climbers, as well as a resource for other recreational groups like hikers and wildlife viewers.
Stay tuned for more details.
New Climbing Area Purchased in Arkansas
We are excited to report that the Jamestown Crag outside Batesville, Arkansas has recently been acquired for outdoor recreational use. The regionally popular area offers around 60 sport and trad routes on high quality sandstone. Previously owned by a paper company, access was never secure due to ongoing liability concerns. However Nomad Investments, an Arkansas-based organization whose mission is to promote outdoor recreation, recently purchased the area to secure access and further develop its recreational opportunities. "It's the biggest purchase of our organization's history," explains Nomad's Kyle Christopher. Access Fund and Arkansas Climbers Coalition are working with Nomad on climbing management for the area.
Stay tuned for more details.
Save Sandstone Bouldering!
Almost 10 years ago the Minnesota Climbers Association (MCA) worked with private landowners to gain access to the high-quality bouldering at Sandstone. But last fall, the MCA got word that the landowners were looking to sell the property, putting public access at imminent risk. The landowners generously agreed to give local climbers the first opportunity to purchase the land. With support from MCA and Access Fund, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota (PTCM) has agreed to purchase the property to be integrated into Banning State Park. However, PTCM needs our help to fundraise $30,000 for the acquisition costs and trailhead improvements by December 31, 2013.
Please help support this important acquisition!