Access Fund Becomes Nationally Recognized Member of Land Trust Alliance
The Access Fund announced today that it has become a nationally recognized member of the Land Trust Alliance, committing itself to meeting the same high standards as other leading land conservation organizations around the country.
Since 1991, the Access Fund has supported 39 acquisitions of climbing areas in the United States. Six of those projects have been direct acquisitions by the Access Fund Land Foundation, a separate entity set up two decades ago to hold title of land and easements, while offering the Access Fund liability protection.
Throughout the 1990s, the Access Fund Land Foundation was an important conservation tool, allowing the Access Fund to purchase and transfer climbing resources at Rumney in New Hampshire and Shelf Road in Colorado. The Access Fund Land Foundation has also been used to hold threatened properties in Colorado, including property in Unaweep Canyon, Golden Cliffs Preserve on North Table Mountain, and Society Turn Crag outside Telluride. It also held a conservation easement at Handley Rock outside San Francisco.
Earlier this year, members of the board of directors from both organizations made the unanimous decision to dissolve the Access Fund Land Foundation and transfer all holdings to the Access Fund. This simplified organizational model will reduce administrative burdens, speed up land transactions, and maximize the effectiveness of the Access Fund’s private land protection efforts.
The Access Fund will continue to support local climbing organizations with acquisitions under the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, which provides short-term financing, transactional expertise, and land management advice. However, for critical projects outside the reach of an existing local climbing organization, the Access Fund can now pursue temporary acquisitions when important climbing resources are imminently threatened.
This change will also enable the Access Fund to steward properties in compliance with Land Trust Standards and Practices. Since the dissolution of the Access Fund Land Foundation, the Access Fund has developed land management plans for its holdings in Unaweep Canyon, Golden Cliffs, and Society Turn Crag to ensure sustainable recreational use of these open space areas. Volunteer Land Stewards have been put into place in each area to help monitor and steward each of these properties.
“This is a change in the way we pursue conservation efforts and manage climbing areas,” says Access Director Joe Sambataro. “We have stepped up our commitment to stewarding the climbing areas we’ve helped secure, as well as positioned ourselves to better protect threatened resources.”
Access Fund to Refinance Pendergrass-Murray Loan, Saving Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition Thousands
The Access Fund announced today that it will provide Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition with short-term financing to pay off the current seller-financed loan on the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. www.accessfund.org/aflcc.
The Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve is a classic Red River Gorge destination, hosting more than 500 climbs, ranging from 5.4 to 5.14c, and new climbs constantly being discovered and developed. The steep, beautiful sandstone walls are overhanging and pocketed and offer technical, dynamic, and endurance climbing. The property hosts several hundred climbers each weekend, with the three parking lots often reaching capacity by noon.
A $65,000 loan will be supplied by the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, a revolving loan program that provides local climbing organizations with the funds and expertise needed to act quickly to save threatened climbing areas. The Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition purchased the property in January of 2004, making it the largest direct land acquisition to date by rock climbers.
Through aggressive fundraising and two grants from the Access Fund, the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition has paid down a significant portion of the original loan. By refinancing the remainder of the loan under the Access Fund’s new program, the Coalition will save approximately $10,000 in interest and fees that can be invested in other projects that benefit the Red River Gorge climbing community. The refinance will also eliminate the risk of losing the property to a private third-party, since a missed annual payment under the previous seller-financed loan would have returned the property to the seller and the funds raised by climbers would have been lost.
The refinance deal will set aside approximately $15,000 for land management costs of the Pendergrass-Murray property, as well as funds to allow RRGCC to pursue more climbing areas in the region.
This is the fifth Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign project, with active loans totaling over $200,000. Of these funds, $17,000 has been paid back, returning funds to the revolving loan program to be invested into other climbing conservation efforts by local climbing organizations and the Access Fund. For more informaiton, visit
Spadout.com donates $1 to the Access Fund for new facebook fans
Access Fund corporate parnter Spadout.com is running a promotion from May 17 - 31, where it will donate $1 to the Access Fund for every new fan that joins their Facebook group. Join their group today at www.facebook.com/spadout to send a dollar to the Access Fund!
Park Service to Pull Bolts at Christmas Tree Pass, Nevada?
The NPS proposes to pull bolts within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in southern Nevada, risking several remote desert climbs found at Christmas Tree Pass in the Newberry Mountains. The NPS justifies this plan as necessary to protect archeological resources and wilderness character. However, it appears that the NPS mistakenly thought that “the bolts do not receive much use,” despite the presence of dozens of climbs that receive regular visitation. The NPS proposal also fails to identify actual conflicts caused by climbing that would make this location any different from the dozens of wilderness areas around the country where climbing and some level of fixed anchor use is allowed. After discussions with the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council, the Access Fund, and other climbing advocates, and a field trip to the area with climbers, the NPS has agreed to extend the public comment period to July 2 to give climbers and other users an opportunity to provide input into the planning process.
Stay tuned to Access Fund e-news for updates and an opportunity to make your voice heard.
Your Chance to Influence New Jack City Camping
You have the opportunity to influence improvements at Sawtooth Camping Area at New Jack City.
The Southern California Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing a project that would enhance the existing recreation opportunities for climbers and remote campers with the addition of 12 camp sites, one new restroom, a new kiosk, a picnic area and a host site. Each camp site would have a shade ramada, picnic table, fire pit and grill, and a barbeque.
The BLM office would like climbers' input before writing an environmental assessment for improvements of the camping area. Written comments are due by close of business May 16, 2010.
For more information and to provide comments, visit the BLM website.
Access Fund Announces First Round 2010 Grant Recipients
In the first round of the Climbing Preservation Grant Program for 2010, the Access Fund awarded over $23,000 to support local climbing activism and conservation of the climbing environment. Presented two times annually, the Climbing Preservation Grant program provides financial assistance for local climber activism and protection of the climbing environment in the United States. During this first round of grants, the Access Fund is supporting nine worthy projects. The following grants were awarded this round:
Northern Wisconsin Climbers Coalition – Organizational Start-up
A grant was awarded to Northern Wisconsin Climbers Coalition (NWCC) for start-up costs associated with their 501(c)(3) non profit application, incorporation, and a vinyl banner. In their first year, NWCC has been highly active, seeking partnerships with public entities such as Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The incorporation process is a key step for organizational fundraising and future projects.
CRAG-VT - Carcass Crag Acquisition
CRAG-VT was awarded a grant for the acquisition of 3 acres of cliff line, known as Carcass Crag, adjacent to the Bolton Quarry. The Carcass Crag, although small, includes highly popular climbs on an 80’ overhanging schist wall and continues to yield linkups and new routes. Public access to this privately owned crag would have been lost this summer if an acquisition was not completed. The grant money allowed CRAG-VT to secure a purchase and sale agreement with closing expected in July.
Idaho State University Outdoor Adventure Center - Ross Park Sunny Side Restoration
A grant was awarded to Idaho State University Outdoor Adventure Center for heavy trail work at the popular Rose Park Sunny Side climbing area. This work will create one access trail, eliminating numerous social trails along the cliff that are causing erosion problems. This is a joint project by the City, University, and local climbers.
Climbers of Hueco Tanks - Clean-up and Trail Work
A grant was awarded to Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition to help recoup costs associated with a February clean-up at Hueco Tanks. The event drew 85 volunteers to complete a trail project in the maze area and clean over 40 areas at the State Historic Site. This project was a great example of climbers building a stronger relationship with land managers to balance cultural and natural resource protection with public recreation.
Colorado Mountain Club - Lincoln Icefall
Colorado Mountain Club was awarded a grant for GIS mapping to address access issues at the ice climbing area of Lincoln Falls, which is popular in the fall when other ice climbs have not yet formed. The project will also address access issues and trail construction at three popular fourteeners: Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Bross. The Access Fund grant will assist with the GIS mapping to help resolve these access issues in an area complicated by private parcels and access points.
Peter Clark of West Virginia University - New River Gorge Sustainable Climbing Assessment
A grant was awarded to Peter Clark, a graduate student at West Virginia University, who is conducting a baseline study of cliff flora in the New River Gorge. This study will evaluate and compare flora populations in areas of different climbing use (trad, sport, top roping). The goal is to evaluate sustainable recreational use of the cliffs by climbers and hikers. The research proposal comes with support of the New River Alliance of Climbers.
National Park Service - Exit Strategies Conference
The National Park Service was awarded a grant to assist with a 2010 conference on exit strategies of human waste. This conference will include land managers and representatives from major climbing areas facing waste management crises due to high recreational use. This new grant will match a grant given to the National Park Service last year in preparation for the conference.
Madrone Wall Preservation Committee – Madrone Wall Trail System
A grant was awarded to the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee (MWPC) to build a trail system at Madrone Wall in Oregon. The County will not allow public access until adequate parking and trails are established; however, they are matching the Access Fund grant with labor costs for project coordinators, vehicle use, and trail building tools. There will be three trail-building days with opportunities for volunteers to climb on those days. This is one of the final hurdles for re-opening Madrone Wall after 13 years of closure.
Arkansas Climbers Coalition - Sam's Throne Vault Toilets
A grant was awarded to the Arkansas Climbers Coalition (ARCC) to assist the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest in the purchase and installation of two vault toilets at Sam’s Throne. In 2005, the Forest Service upgraded the area to include a primitive campground and additional day-use parking area with an informational kiosk. ARCC has hosted a number of Adopt a Crag events in recent years, yet the lack of toilet facilities has led to growing environmental damage at the site. The Access Fund grant, along with matching funds from the Forest Service and ARCC, will allow the toilet installation to be completed.
Red Rocks Threatened by Massive Housing Development
An upcoming zoning exception could turn the few acres left between the grid of Las Vegas and Red Rocks into a housing development, forever changing the views from your favorite multi-pitch Red Rock climbs. In 2002, the Access Fund helped defeat a proposal to build 8,400 homes—including a school, golf course and businesses—on Blue Diamond Hill across the road from the world class climbing at Red Rocks. Now the notorious Rhodes Development (responsible for the ugly tract homes creeping towards Red Rocks) is close to receiving county approval that could lead to a 1,700-acre McMansion project. This is the kind of housing development eyesore that Blue Diamond residents and Red Rocks visitors have opposed for years.
On April 21, Clark County will vote on an exception to a local ordinance that prevents developments of more than two homes per acre on the land within the Red Rock Overlay District. If this zoning exception is granted, the development on Blue Diamond Hill could go forward, and the few acres left between the grid of Las Vegas and Red Rocks will be filled with million-dollar homes.
Some critics think that this effort to ease zoning restrictions is just a ploy to raise property values and thus enable the Rhodes Development to milk taxpayers for more money if the federal government is forced to buy the property to protect scenic values at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The Access Fund is working with local Las Vegas climbers and conservation groups to again defeat this proposal. To get more information, contact the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council andSave Red Rock Canyon.
Stay tuned after the April 21 Clark County Commission vote for ways you can help protect the unparalleled climbing experience at Red Rocks.
Climbing Banned at Portion of Castle Rocks – Access Fund Set to Appeal
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a climbing ban on 400 acres in the Castle Rocks Interagency Recreation Area, adjacent to Castle Rocks State Park in Idaho. This ban affects over 40 established climbs and hundreds of potential new routes.
The BLM acted on the basis that a climbing ban is needed to protect historic cultural resources inventoried by a recent field survey. The Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, who have a rich history in this area, support the ban, expressing concern that climbing could negatively impact their cultural resources on the property. However the field study found these resources in two specific areas of the property and a subsequent environmental assessment failed to state why climbing could not continue where there are no conflicts with cultural resources.
The Access Fund supports legitimate resource protection strategies, but disagrees with the BLM’s decision to manage the entire area with the highest level of protection, especially the areas where the environmental assessment did not identify any resources in need of protection. The BLM will still allow hunting, hiking, and grazing to continue, and numerous alternatives exist that could also allow climbing and still protect the cultural resources.
Other BLM offices across the country effectively managing climbing in areas where significant cultural resources have been identified, including Shelf Road in Colorado; Red Rocks in Nevada; and Indian Creek, Moab/Castle Valley, and San Rafael Swell in Utah. The standard at these locations is that climbing may occur within 50 feet of a specific cultural resource.
The BLM has a long history of maintaining resource protection standards and still allowing for legitimate recreational uses like climbing. The ban that the local BLM office has imposed for its Castles property is more restrictive than any other BLM climbing area in the country, and is an even higher standard than those imposed on wilderness areas or other highly protected land designations.
The Access Fund is set to appeal the BLM decision on the grounds that 1) the BLM has not sufficiently identified the cultural resources in need of protection, 2) the BLM has not shown that climbing (sport or traditional) would inevitably cause adverse effects to those resources, and 3) that there are less restrictive alternatives available that could allow climbing and protect cultural resources.
The Access Fund will support any climbing restrictions or closures where the BLM can demonstrate that discrete cultural resources and climbing opportunities conflict or are within a 50-foot buffer zone. It also supports reasonable measures and/or compromises where climbing and the hiking approaches to climbing may be restricted or diverted around in the zones that contain a high density of cultural resources.
History of the area
The BLM property sits within a patchwork of public lands commonly known as the Castle Rocks Interagency Recreation Area, and is owned and managed by three different agencies—US Forest Service, BLM, and Idaho Parks and Recreation. Since 2003, the three agencies have been working together, in collaboration with the Access Fund and local climbers, to develop a multiagency Climbing Management Plan that would govern climbing practices across all of the properties. The climbing plan, which authorizes the establishment of new climbing routes, placement of fixed anchors, and construction of new trails, was adopted by the Idaho Parks and Recreation and currently governs climbing at Castle Rocks State Park, adjacent to the BLM property.
Before also signing on to the climbing management plan, the BLM initiated an environmental assessment in order to survey historic and cultural resources that may be present on the property, and analyze the impact of climbing on those resources. The agency allowed climbing during the environment assessment process, but imposed a ban on overnight camping and bolting/fixed anchors (though a number of routes already had bolts that were placed before the BLM ban was issued).
During the environmental assessment process, the Twin Falls Resource Advisory Council and the Access Fund supported adoption of the Interagency Climbing Management Plan. However, the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute Tribes native to the area expressed concerns related to potential climbing impacts to cultural resources on the BLM property.
The Access Fund and local climbers have a decade-long history working collaboratively with federal land management agencies in the Castle Rocks Recreation Area. The Access Fund assisted the National Park Service with a land acquisition that enabled the creation of Castle Rocks State Park. Climbers have also worked extensively with the local BLM, Forest Service, and Idaho Parks and Recreation offices to create climbing management plans for the area. The Access Fund looks forward to working with the local BLM office and the local tribes to establish climbing management policies that protect the historic cultural resources, while still allowing for legitimate recreational uses of this public land.
Erik Weihenmayer Presents Adventures in the Vertical World to Support Access Fund
Since climbing the Seven Summits and becoming the only blind person to complete this journey, Erik Weihenmayer has undertaken extraordinary expeditions and projects around the world. Most recently, Erik climbed the Naked Edge, a classic highly-technical rock climb in Eldorado Canyon State Park with Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson and Charley Mace. The goal of this climb was to raise awareness for the Access Fund.
Please join us on Thursday, April 8 at 8:00 pm as Erik Weihenmayer presents Adventures in the Vertical World at Neptune Mountaineering. See the incredible video, Blind and Naked, of Erik climbing the Naked Edge. Also hear first-hand accounts from Brady Robinson and Charley Mace about their involvement in this incredible achievement. Tickets are $7 and you will receive a Neptune coupon the night of the show.
All proceeds from the evening go to support the work of the Access Fund. Tickets are on sale now and the night of the show at Neptune Mountaineering.
We hope to see you there!
Red Rocks Wilderness Plan Still in the Works
Despite several starts and stops over the last few years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to work on a wilderness management plan that will affect climbing policies at Red Rocks near Las Vegas. This plan is also likely to serve as a model for how fixed anchors are authorized at other wilderness areas around the country.
In 2007 the BLM proposed new climbing and bolting regulations for the La Madre Mountain and Rainbow Mountain wilderness areas (most of Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area). However, after a public comment period, the proposal proved controversial with respect to potential safety issues, an overly complex permit process, arbitrary bolting standards, and the enforceability of the plan. For more background, click here.
Several changes in the local BLM staff over the past three years have prevented the plan from proceeding, but the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council continues to communicate with the BLM to represent climber interests and work on collaborative conservation projects. The BLM hopes to have another draft plan completed by October 2010, at which point the public will have another opportunity to comment. For more information, contact the Las Vegas Climbers Liaison Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jason@accessfund.org.
Action Alert: New York State Parks on Chopping Block
New York State Parks are at Risk! For the first time ever, budget woes may close down New York State parks, including the climbing found at Minnewaska State Park. We need your help to support funding for New York's parks by contacting your state legislators and Governor Paterson. This is a LIVE Action Alert. Visit our advocacy center and take action now!
Dead Point Magazine to Host Poker Match in Support of Access Fund
On May 15th 2010, Dead Point Magazine will host the first annual Poker n’ Access fundraiser for the Access Fund during the 8th Annual New River Rendezvous. The New River Rendezvous is an annual fundraising event for the New River Alliance of Climbers, which takes place at the Burnwood Campground at the New River Gorge in West Virginia.
Dead Point Magazine would like to invite both individuals and companies to take part in the tournament. The minimum buy-in for a tournament seat is $250, with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the Access Fund. The winner will receive a check for 100% of the tournament earnings, written in their or their company’s name to the Access Fund.
Any company sending a representative to participate in the Poker n’ Access Texas Hold’em Tournament will have their company logo featured in a highlight video on Dead Point Magazine’s website (www.deadpointmag.com), the Access Fund’s website (www.accessfund.org), and distributed through various social media outlets.
For more information or to register, contact Megan Phillips at email@example.com. Seats are limited, so please make sure to sign up as soon as possible. Confirmation must be made by March 31st 2010.
To reigster, contact:
Megan Phillips, Associate Editor
Dead Point Magazine
Half Dome Cable Permits Won't Affect Climbers
You may have recently caught wind of news that permits will soon be required to scale Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on weekends and holidays during peak summer months. This change only applies to people (i.e., hikers) ascending the cables on Half Dome. These permits do not affect climbers descending the cables or going up any other route on Half Dome.
For more informaiton, visit the National Park Service website.
2009 Adopt a Crag Wrap-up and Awards
The 10th anniversary of Adopt a Crag was our best year yet, with the number of volunteers and events growing 20% over the previous year! In total 6,752 volunteers contributed over 40,000 hours of work to help improve our crags. Each year, the Access Fund and its sponsors honor those organizers who went above and beyond. We are thrilled to present the 2009 Adopt a Crag awards to a worthy group of volunteers. We want to thank everyone who hosted or participated in an Adopt a Crag this year—your dedication and enthusiasm are what make this program a great success!
Adopt a Crag of the Year Award - Ian Caldwell and the Smith Rock Group
REI and the Access Fund are proud to present the 2009 Adopt a Crag of the Year Award to Ian Caldwell and the Smith Rock Group for their dedication in the conservation of Smith Rock State Park. The annual Smith Rock Spring Thing started 17 years ago, and this year was bigger than ever with over 165 volunteers at a single event. Together, they volunteered 1,100 hours and completed 15 different projects to improve Smith Rock. We look forward to what Ian and the Smith Rock Group are able to accomplish in 2010!
Conservation Award - Central Texas Mountaineers
GORE-TEX products and Access Fund are honored to present the 2009 Stewardship Award to the Central Texas Mountaineers (CTM). CTM logged over 8,500 volunteer hours on 17 Adopt a Crag projects this year, including Mt. Bonnell, Gus Fruh Park, and Reimers North Shore. Volunteers worked tirelessly building trails, removing poison ivy, trundling rocks and picking up trash. We are thrilled to see this level of dedication in conserving our climbing areas.
2009 Stewardship Award - Salt Lake Climbers Alliance
Clif Bar and the Access Fund are proud to present the 2009 Stewardship Award to Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA) for their dedication in restoring Ferguson Canyon. This year the Ferguson Canyon Adopt a Crag brought in over 100 volunteers who accomplished 7 different projects including trail maintenance, graffiti removal, and creation of belay platforms. We sincerely appreciate SLCA and all of its volunteers for their hours spent improving Ferguson Canyon.
A League of there Own Award - Ken Yager and the Yosemite Climbing Association
This year’s 2009 League of Their Own Award is presented to the unstoppable Ken Yager and the Yosemite Climbing Association for their dedication in organizing the Yosemite Facelift. This year’s Facelift brought in incredible statistics yet again: over 1,200 volunteers contributed over 16,000 volunteer hours to collecting trash on 120 miles on roadway and over 180 miles of trails. The volunteers collected a total of 60,437 pounds of trash! We are truly honored to recognize these remarkable efforts and are already looking forward to next year’s Facelift!
Cat Slab Protected!
The new year brings reason to celebrate for those of you who enjoy climbing in Clear Creek Canyon. After months of negotiation, Clear Creek County successfully acquired the 76-acre Oxbow Parcel that contains the Cat Slab cliff, located south of US Highway 6 near Tunnel 5.
Cat Slab boasts some of the only moderate routes in Clear Creek Canyon and was a popular crag to bring beginners before it was closed to the public in 2006 due to liability concerns.
The County purchased the land using $725,000 in lottery funds, awarded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). The County was supported by numerous recreational groups, including the Access Fund, Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Whitewater, Trout Unlimited, International Mountain Bicycling Association, and Rafting Outfitters on Clear Creek.
While the cliff line is protected, the area is not officially open to the public until the County develops and implements a site plan to provide safe, off-road parking, which may include shifting the guard rail and gate to provide more parking.
The County is interested in climber input on the development of parking, trails, and possible toilet facilities. Please contact Joe at the Access Fund, firstname.lastname@example.org, to get involved in the planning process.
Access Fund Announces 2009 Sharp End Awards
The Access Fund announced today the winners of its 2009 Sharp End Awards. Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals and businesses that go above and beyond to volunteer their time and efforts to preserving climbing access and the climbing environment. These recipients stand out in their commitment to the American climbing community, and the Access Fund is honored to present this year's awards to a worthy group of volunteers and activists. Please join us in congratulating them!
Bebie Leadership Award – Anthony Love
We are proud to recognize Anthony Love as America’s outstanding activist for the cause of preserving climbing access and the climbing environment. Anthony has illustrated his leadership with the recent acquisition of the Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders in North Carolina and has been instrumental in climbing management planning for Laurel Knob and continued access to the privately owned Asheboro Boulders. Anthony leads the Carolina Climbers Coalition with perseverance and passion, helping to build partnerships and a strong community of climbers dedicated to protecting and stewarding the places we cherish.
Reese Martin Coordinator of the Year Award – Thomson Ling
We honor Thomson Ling for his outstanding leadership as an Access Fund Regional Coordinator in Virginia. Thomson founded the Mid-Atlantic Climbers Coalition in 2002 and became a regional coordinator in 2003. With his support, Mid Atlantic Climbers has organized dozens of Adopt a Crag events over the past seven years with hundreds of volunteers in attendance in areas including Shenandoah National Park, Carderock Recreation Area, and Great Falls National Park. Thomson is now a Regional Coordinator in New Jersey.
Sharp End Award – Clif Bar & Company
The Access Fund is proud to award Clif Bar & Company a Sharp End Award for their dedication and support of local volunteerism and long-term stewardship of climbing areas. Since 2004, Clif Bar has been a Contributing Sponsor of the Adopt a Crag program and in 2008 became a Contributing Sponsor of the TeamWorks youth program, helping to turn young gym climbers into responsible conservation-minded outdoor climbers. Clif Bar strives to bring local communities together to take care of the beautiful places we play, and for that we are very grateful.
Sharp End Award – Brian Sabourin
We are pleased to present a Sharp End Award to Brian Sabourin, our first regional coordinator in the state of Ohio. Brian has illustrated his leadership in climbing activism by forming a new local climbing organization (the Northeast Ohio Climbers Coalition), spearheading an effort to open climbing access at the Brecksville Reservation, and volunteering countless hours to building relationships and collaborating with the Cleveland Metro Parks. He also organized the first Adopt a Crag at Whipp’s Ledge. Brian is just getting started, and we look forward to many more successes in the years to come.
Sharp End Award – Paul Morley
We are honored to present a Sharp End Award to Paul Morley, who shows the climbing community that activism and protection of our climbing areas may be hard work, but the rewards are worth the effort. Paul worked tirelessly over four years to acquire Yellow Bluff in Alabama, and has been an instrumental player in building a network of supporters among the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and Access Fund. Paul’s contagious enthusiasm for climbing access spreads to everyone he meets, and we are proud to have him in our corner.
Sharp End Award – Aaron Gibson
We honor Aaron Gibson, co-owner of the Rocktown Climbing Gym and coach to the Oklahoma Climbing Team, for his leadership in climbing management planning and trail projects throughout his home state of Oklahoma. Aaron has been an Access Fund regional coordinator since 2004 and has played an integral role in helping to preserve climbing access at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge by working with local climbers and Refuge managers on climbing policies. Aaron also provided lobbying support for the Access Fund’s meetings with Oklahoma’s congressional delegation in Washington, DC. Thanks to Aaron, climber interests are well-represented in Oklahoma.
Action Alert: Protect Climbing Access in Yosemite
We need your help to influence the latest Merced River Plan, which could restrict climbing access and camping in Yosemite Valley, depending on how the Park prepares its new revised user capacity program. At issue is access to iconic climbs including those found on The Rostrum, Cookie Cliff, and Middle Cathedral Rock (everything ¼ mile on either side of the river). This plan will also affect all travel through the management area to locations just outside the river corridor, which brings into play all climbing in Yosemite Valley including El Capitan and even Half Dome. Another consequence of this litigation is the increased likelihood that camping will become even more scarce while the number of lodging units remains largely unchanged.
Please write Yosemite National Park by February 4 and support the preservation of climbing access in the Valley! With our easy-to-use letter writing tool, it only takes two minutes to make your voice heard.
Take action now!
CCC Starts Off the New Year by Closing on Rumbling Bald
Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) starts off the new year by closing on the acquisition of Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders on January 6. The Access Fund provided a bridge loan of $72,000 from the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign to finance 90% of the purchase price for the 6.12 acre tract, which hosts 30 boulders with approximately 200 high quality boulder problems.
The CCC and the Access Fund worked together to finalize the purchase of this popular bouldering area from a private developer. The CCC will fundraise over the next two years, with the intent of transferring the property to North Carolina State Parks for long-term, climber-friendly management.
For more information on the acquisition, click here. To find out what you can do to help the fundraising efforts, visit www.carolinaclimbers.org.
Access Fund to Refinance Farley Ledge Loan, Saving Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition Thousands
The Access Fund announced today that it will provide Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition with short-term financing to pay off an existing $30,000 bank loan on 7 acres of land at the base of Farley Ledge in Erving, Massachusetts.
The funds will be supplied by the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, a revolving loan program that provides local climbing organizations with the funds and expertise needed to act quickly to save threatened climbing areas. The Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition has paid down 90 percent of the original $300,000 bank loan. By refinancing the remainder of the loan under the Access Fund’s new program, the Coalition will save approximately $3,500 in interest and fees that can be invested in other projects that benefit the Massachusetts climbing community.
Farley Ledge contains arguably the best climbing in southern New England between Rumney, New Hampshire and the Gunks in eastern New York. In 2007, the Coalition purchased the undeveloped tract at the base of the cliff to protect the access point and allow for a parking area. The Access Fund provided a $10,000 grant to assist with the original purchase.
Prior to the purchase, the parking and trail access for Farley Ledge and the adjacent Metacomet-Monadnock Trail lay across a patchwork of private land parcels at the end of a dense residential neighborhood. Access was constantly threatened by a combination of overuse and lack of adequate public parking, which lead to neighborhood concerns. Farley was closed four times over the last twenty years due to these concerns.
The successful acquisition of this property solidified climbing access by allowing for the creation of a sustainable parking area and a permanent trailhead. The Coalition spearheaded the construction of a new 16-car parking lot, access trail, and kiosk in the fall of 2008, which is now enjoyed by the public.
The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has a long history of protection and preservation at Farley Ledge, funding biological surveys, writing an award winning climbing management plan, and hosting annual Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag stewardship events. “We are excited to give WMCC a new level of support in this stage of conservation at Farley Ledge,” says Access Fund Access Director Joe Sambataro.
The refinance is expected to close by December of this year. The Coalition has an aggressive fundraising plan in place to pay back the loan, allowing the Access Fund to invest in other projects. Please stay tuned to the Coalition for detailed fundraising plans and opportunities to give your support. For more information, contact Jeff Squire at email@example.com or Joe Sambataro at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.westernmacc.com for new updates.
Yosemite Valley/Merced Update
For several years Yosemite National Park has been working on a plan to address human capacity concerns in the park to prevent negative impacts to the Merced River habitat. The plan is likely to include a quota system that could unfairly target climbers and/or climbing areas that have limited to no impact on the river corridor habitat. The Access Fund is working with our partners to influence the planning process and advocate for management policies that protect the unique values associated with the Merced Wild and Scenic River, while allowing for responsible climbing and camping opportunities. There will be an opportunity for the public to review and comment on details of the plan. Stay tuned to Access Fund E-news for the opportunity to make your voice heard.
For more detail on the Access Fund’s history on the Merced River Plan, see our news item and comments to the last draft plan. More information on the current planning process can be found on the National Park Service website.