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.
Flatirons Climbing Council (FCC) Secures Expansion of Fixed Anchors in Boulder Flatirons
Flatirons Climbing Council (FCC) Secures Expansion of Fixed Anchors in Boulder Flatirons
The FCC recently secured substantial expansion of the formations open for fixed anchors in the Boulder Flatirons. The FCC has worked for many years to have a complete ban on new bolts (issued by the city in 1990) gradually lifted. Starting in 2009, Boulder has added several new formations that are now eligible for bolting applications: the Maiden, the Matron, Dinosaur Rock, Overhang Rock, Bear Creek Spire, and more of the Third Flatiron. This expansion offers some excellent opportunities for new routes. Persons interested in bolting applications should visit www.flatironsclimbing.org for more information.
Climb. Hike. Fight ovarian cancer one foot at a time.
Climb. Hike. Fight ovarian cancer one foot at a time.
Raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer by participating in the 3rd Annual HERA Ovarian Cancer Climb for Life on June 26th and 27th in Boulder, CO. Meet and greet other hikers and climbers on Friday night; climb and hike all day Saturday; and then eat, dance, and win gear from our awesome sponsors Saturday night! Early Bird registration is now open: http://www.herafoundation.org/Colorado/index.cfm
Access Fund Mourns the Passing of Rob Hart
Access Fund Mourns the Passing of Rob Hart
Last week, the Access Fund and the climbing community lost one of its own in a tragic skiing accident. Rob Hart, founder and owner of Crazy Creek, was killed while skiing his local mountain in Red Lodge, MT. Rob was one of the original supporters of the Access Fund and was actively involved in the climbing advocacy community for many years. We honor Rob’s contributions to the Access Fund community and we thank him for the many ways that he touched our lives. He will be missed.
Access Road to Bulo Point Secured
Access to Bulo Point, a popular climbing area on the east side of Mt. Hood, recently came into question during an environmental assessment to restore aquatic habitat in Mt. Hood National Forest. The assessment resulted in three recommended courses of action, one of which would decommission an access road to the climbing area.
During public meetings and comment periods climbers rallied around this issue, advocating for an alternate solution that would keep the majority of the access road open with the addition of a short trail to connect the end of the road to Bulo Point.
In January of this year, the Forest Service Supervisor issued the decision to implement the alternate solution, which will allow the northern portion of the Bulo Point access road to remain open. Plans are already underway for construction of a parking area and a short trail to connect the parking lot with Bulo Point. This represents a big victory for local climbers. See plan details in the projects and plans section under aquatic restoration.
New Hope for Williamson Rock Access
After a three-year "temporary" climbing closure at Williamson Rock near Los Angeles, we have seen significant progress in the last few months. The area was originally closed as a precautionary measure to protect critical habitat of the mountain yellow-legged frog while the United States Forest Service (USFS) conducted an environmental assessment and studied options for alternate trail access. However, the area remained closed due to lack of funding for the study. The USFS has finally earmarked funding for what we hope will be a thorough assessment of the area, including alternate trail access. The USFS plans to implement a strategy for the Williamson Rock funds by October 2009.
Visit the Friends of Williamson Rock website for more information and updates
Climbing Potentially at Risk at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on a new conservation plan for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, including a review of compatible land uses, and local climbers are making sure they have a voice in the process. The Wichitas, as they are commonly known, offer a unique wilderness climbing experience that is unmatched by any other area in the Midwest.
The Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition is working to ensure that the new plan will not adversely affect the long-standing tradition of rock climbing at this classic Oklahoma area. Once completed, the conservation plan will serve as a guide for managing the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for the next 15 years.
Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and James Inhofe (R-OK) have long supported climbing at the refuge, and both issued written responses to the Fish and Wildlife Service, stating their concerns about the compatibility review and their continued support of rock climbing in the refuge. For more details, see www.wichitamountains.org.
Local climbers went through a similar struggle in the early 90s and were successful in protecting the tradition of climbing in the Wichitas. Since that time, the climbers coalition has maintained a healthy working relationship with the refuge. But with the recent compatibility review process, and rumors that the refuge manager wants to ban climbing, local Oklahoma climbers have become concerned about the future of climbing in the Wichitas.
The Fish and Wildlife Service wants your comments by March 5. This is your opportunity to help identify issues and concerns for the Wichitas and to let land managers know you support continued rock climbing in the refuge. Your participation is critical to the preservation of climbing opportunities so that the Wichitas dont end up like the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge in Illinois, where climbing was banned last year through a similar planning process.
For details regarding how to submit your comments by March 5, 2009, see www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/wichitamountains/pdf_files....
A sample advocacy letter underscoring the compatibility of climbing on the refuge can be found here: www.accessfund.org/pdf/Wichita Mts Wildlife Refuge.pdf
New Climbing Access Trails Opened in the McDowell Mountains, Arizona
After being threatened by the encroachment of a housing development, climbing access in the McDowell Mountains, near Scottsdale, Arizona, just got easier and more secure. A series of defined climbing access paths now lead from the main trail system to the following crags (from west to east): Half and Half Wall, Fort McDowell, Lost Wall, the Rist, Lost in the Air, Toms Thumb, Glass Dome, Gardeners Wall, Crossover Wall, East End, Goat Hill, Hog Heaven, Morrells Wall, Morrells Parking Area, Girlie Man, Sven Towers I, II and III, Sven Slab, Trundle Pinnacle, Rosetta Stone and Granite Ballroom. Rock climbing is limited to the existing and historical climbing crags.
The spring of 2009 will see the official opening of the North Access Area of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, marked by the opening of the Toms Thumb trail. The North Access Area serves the north end of the McDowell Mountains that are south of Dynamite Boulevard/Rio Verde Drive.
The City of Scottsdale wants to educate the climbing community about its plans to open this area and receive feedback. There will be a meeting on January 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the Phoenix Country Day School (3901 E. Stanford Drive, Paradise Valley, 85253) for the purpose of receiving comments from members of the climbing community.
This meeting will be held in conjunction with the Arizona Mountaineering Clubs January member meeting. If you are interested in hearing about the climber access and overall climbing management in the McDowells, please plan to attend. Mountaineering club membership is not required. The presentation will include maps of the North Access Area layout and climber access paths followed by a question-and-answer session as well as an opportunity to fill out comment cards. Your input can also be emailed Scott Hamilton, City of Scottsdale Trails Planner, at SHamilton@scottsdaleaz.gov. For questions, contact Erik Filsinger, the Climber Liaison to City of Scottsdale staff, at email@example.com.
Madrone Wall Update, OR
By Keith Daellenbach
Two events are coming up at the Madrone Wall in Clackamas County, and public involvement is requested.
The FIRST EVENT is Public Involvement Meeting #1 (of three) to be held at Still Meadow Community (16561 S.E. Marna Road, Damascus, OR 97089, 1/2-mile north of Madrone Wall, www.stillmeadowcommunity.com) on Wednesday, August 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
Clackamas County Parks is now inviting public input for a Parks Master Planning process for Hardscrabble Quarry (a.k.a. Madrone Wall). The County is working with the community to complete a feasibility study and develop a concept Parks Master Plan for the Madrone Wall. THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY to attend and provide input on future uses of and improvements to this site, including the potential creation of a park.
The County's Madrone Wall is a 44-acre site adjacent to Highway 224 between Carver and Barton just south of Damascus. This site was purchased by the County in 1937 and was sporadically quarried from the 1950s through the 1970s. For decades, it was used by outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, rock climbers, picnickers, and wildflower viewers, before the County closed it to public access in 1997. A County plan to quarry the site was eventually dropped in 2000. In 2006, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed to not sell this public site and to make it a priority for Parks Master Planning. This meeting is the first step to involve the public in the Park's Master Planning process.
Comments, suggestions, or questions regarding this Park Master Planning process should be sent to Katie Dunham at firstname.lastname@example.org (503/794-8051) or Chris VanDuzer at email@example.com (503/353-4663). Submissions will be presented at the Public Meetings.
The SECOND EVENT is an Adopt-a-Crag that the Madrone Wall Preservation Committee is coordinating with Clackamas County Parks to help restore native plant biodiversity and ecosystem to the Madrone Wall by removing invasive plants (e.g., Himalayan blackberry and English ivy). Please join us at our very first opportunity to make a difference at this amazing civic treasure since the site was closed 11 years ago! This is a great event if you are looking for an environmental public service project.
The Adopt-a-Crag will be held on Saturday, September 27. Meet at the parking lot of Carver School (just as you enter Carver from the North on Highway 224 at 16077 S.E., Highway 224, Damascus, Oregon 97089, www.carverschool.org/Find_Us) and carpool to/from Madrone Wall site. Bring: appropriate safety equipment (work gloves, work boots, etc.), water, hat, sunscreen, and gardening tools (loppers, pruners, shears, small hand saws, shovels, dandelion pickers, weed wrenches, digging tools, etc.). Please RSVP by 20 September to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please continue to respect the County's "No Tresspassing" wishes.
Moab Oil and Gas Lease Update
On November 25, the Access Fund sent an action alert urging opposition to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) proposed oil and gas leases that could impact world-class climbing areas near Moab, Utah. Once these parcels are leased and put into production, the BLM must build roads capable of accommodating large industrial vehicles. Oil and gas rigs could sprout up near many of Moab's most famous climbs, significantly changing these famous desert landscapes.
After strong opposition from the National Park Service, members of Congress, and public interest groups, the BLM pulled a number of proposed leases, including a few that host climbing along the River Road near Big Bend. See www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2008/2008-12-15-093.asp
Several climbing areas are still on the auction block, including Tusher Canyon, Courthouse Pasture, and Hell Roaring Canyon north of Moab. Climbs such as Monitor and Merrimac Buttes, Echo Pinnacle, and the Witch and Warlock towers could be affected by the BLM's oil and gas auction. The window for comments closed on December 4, and the auction is scheduled for December 19. Thanks to everyone who submitted protest letters to the BLM. Stay tuned for updates.
SCC to Reopen Yellow Bluff, AL
By Paul Morley, The Southeastern Climbers Coalition
After three years of persistent effort, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) plans to reopen a portion of the historic cliff Yellow Bluff, located about 20 miles from Huntsville, Alabama. During the late 1980s, climbers such as Jessie Guthrie and Curt Merchant helped establish many of the classic lines that earned the cliff its reputation as the test piece crag of the South. Yellow Bluff is home to Alabama's first 5.13a and the 5.13d/14a Tour de Jour. In the early 1990s, just as Yellow Bluff was growing more popular, the area was closed to climbing.
In 2005, the SCC began rebuilding a relationship with Yellow Bluffs landowner and has been working for the past three years on possible avenues to reopen the crag. The SCC was recently given an affirmative agreement to purchase the crag at a set price, and went on to lead the acquisition to the recent signing for the right side of Yellow Bluff.
The SCC has just reached its fundraising goal for the acquisition of Yellow Bluff. The land deal should be completed in early February. Many thanks for everyone's donations, interest, and involvement in helping to open another Southern crag. For more information, visit www.seclimbers.org.
Telluride's Bridal Veil Falls Re-Opened to Climbing
Standing 365 feet over Telluride's Box Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls is Colorado's tallest free falling waterfall, and some would argue, one of the most classic and difficult ice climbs in the country. And it has been closed to climbing for the better part of a few decades, with the exception of a few brief openings.
Following extensive negotiations, ice climbers will once again be able to legally climb the classic Bridal Veil Falls, beginning December 5th of this year. This agreement was reached through negotiations between The Trust for Public Land and the Idarado Mining Company, with support and advocacy from Colorado's San Miguel County, the Telluride Mountain Club and the Access Fund. It awards a revocable public access license that grants climbers access to this world-class ice climb.
The opening of the key access point to Bridal Veil Falls was managed by The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit land conservation organization dedicated to helping communities all around the country save special places for everyone to enjoy. Their work has made a real difference around Telluride, Ouray and Silverton, where they have protected over 10,000 acres for the public, including other outstanding climbing resources such as Wilson Peak and the Ouray Ice Park.
A climber's general information meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the county meeting room, Miramonte Building, 333 West Colorado Ave (2nd floor) Telluride, CO. All interested climbers are invited to attend.
The re-opening of Bridal Veil Falls is a big win for the climbing community, but we need your help to ensure its continued access. This area contains a set of innate hazards, which climbers must be aware of to ensure their own safety and mitigate potential access issues.
This new public access license is revocable and is contingent on climber's awareness and compliance with a number of rules. Climbers must sign in at a kiosk and avoid the Powerhouse area at the top of the falls; all descents must be via rappel. A complete list of rules and topo can be found at www.sanjuaniceclimbs.com.
Compliance with these rules is essential to maintain climbing privileges. Please treat this area and its adjacent private land with respect, and help educate others on its proper use. Our combined efforts can help keep this landmark climb open for years to come.
Many thanks to folks at The Trust for Public Land, Idarado Mining Company, San Miguel County, Telluride Mountain Club and many local climbers for coming together to reclaim this Colorado classic. For more information, contact Access Fund Regional Coordinator Steve Johnson at email@example.com.
Trust for Public Land
Telluride Mountain Club
San Miguel County
Colorado Avalanche Information Center
Access Fund Affiliate Gunks Climbers Coalition Presented with Land Stewardship Award
On October 11, the Mohonk Preserve presented the Thom Scheuer Land Stewardship Award to the Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC), an Access Fund Affilitate organization based in Gardiner, NY that is dedicated to ensuring sustainable opportunities for responsible climbing along the Shawangunk Ridge and in surrounding areas. The award was presented at the 10th Annual New Paltz Climbing Film Festival, held at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Were happy to recognize GCC, which has been a critical partner in protecting and managing land in the Shawangunks, a world-renowned climbing destination, said Hank Alicandri, the Preserves Head Ranger and Director of Stewardship.
GCCs many activities include opening access to new climbing areas, improving climber trails, preventing soil erosion and compaction in heavily used areas, sponsoring events, and raising funds for rescue equipment.
Its a great honor for GCC to be recognized for its achievements as a liaison for the climbing community, said Chris Moratz, Board Chairman of GCC, who accepted the award along with Secretary General Janette Pazer. Our work has been possible because of the support of the local climbing community, the Access Fund, Rock and Snow of New Paltz and local rock climbing guide services, and of course our dedicated Board members.
The Preserves Stewardship award is named for Thom Scheuer, one of the Preserves first Rangers and the first Director of Stewardship, who worked tirelessly at the Preserve for more than 27 years until his sudden death in 1999. Prior award recipients include Dr. Richard McNally (2007), Rich Gottlieb (2006), Dr. Heinz Meng (2005), the Gardiner Fire and Rescue Department (2004), the Access Fund (2003), John Stannard (2002), Dick Williams (2001), Dr. Ed Reppert (2000), and Joe Bridges (1999). For more information see www.gunksclimbers.org/
Bouldering Reopened at Hawkins Preserve. Cortez, CO
By Paul Morey, Four Corners Climbing Coalition
After a 16 month closure, bouldering in Hawkins Preserve in Cortez, Colorado reopened on November 8th. The preserve, located within the city limits of Cortez, contains as many as 100 boulder problems on quality sandstone and is an important climbing resource for local climbers. The private preserve, open to the public, was closed due to liability concerns and impacts to the natural and cultural resources within the 122 acre preserve.
As a result of the closure, the Four Corners Climbing Coalition (4CCC) was formed to work with the preserve's management, the Cortez Cultural Center, to reopen the preserve to climbing. After 16 months of negotiations, legal wrangling, trail building, climbing management plan creation, a memorandum of understanding between 4CCC and the Cortez Cultural Center, and too many field trips and meetings to count, bouldering has returned to the preserve.
To address the liability concerns of climbing in the preserve and the need to educate climbers about the sensitive resources within the preserve, climbers must obtain a permit before climbing or bouldering. To obtain a climbing permit, climbers must fill out a liability release form and attend a climbing orientation within the preserve. Information on how to obtain the permit can be found on the 4CCC website at www.4-ccc.org. Although 4CCC did much of the ground work to return climbing to the preserve, the Access Fund provided important legal advice and help with the climbing management plan that proved crucial to the reopening of climbing within the preserve.
Climbing Access Update: McDowell Mountains / North Scottsdale, AZ
By Erik Filsinger, Climber Liaison with City of Scottsdale Preserve Staff and Land Advocacy Chair for the Arizona Mountaineering Club
Progress has been made to build and open formal access to the trails (and rock climbing) at the north end of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Arizona. Crags like Sven Slab, Sven Towers, Hog Heaven, Granite Ballroom, Rosetta Stone, Morrells Wall, Gardeners Wall, Crossroads Wall, Glass Dome, Toms Thumb, Lost Wall, Fort McDowell, and Half and Half Wall provide some of the best granite rock climbing in the Phoenix area. This area has now been included within the City of Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We have been working closely with City Staff to identify established rock climbing routes and appropriate access from the official City trails.
The exciting news is that construction on the Toms Thumb trail has begun. Climbers need to be aware and communicate with other rock climbers that respecting any temporary closures in the area while construction is underway is imperative. For example, the Morrells Parking Area will be closed for 4 to 5 months beginning this November for construction staging; a gate will be placed and signed for public closure. This means the traditional approach to Morrells Wall will not be available during that time period. Please respect the signage and closures; it is in climbers long term interest to show that we, as climbers, will continue to be good citizens and partners with the City and the Preserve. The other not signed for temporary closure rock climbing crags will remain open, so enjoy a safe time out there! Please contact Erik Filsinger for more information.
Climbing Opportunities Expanded at Mission Trails Regional Park San Diego, CA
By Tom Donnelly, Access Fund Regional Coordinator and Allied Climbers of San Diego member
In September the Allied Climbers of San Diego (ACSD) attended a Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Task Force meeting to voice concerns over recent changes to the Park Master Plan draft. Proposed language included text that specifically limited rock climbing to only one areathe Mission Gorge area of the park to the west-facing side of Kwaay Paayand officially banned climbing elsewhere within the park limits. ACSD felt this language too restrictive and should be removed to allow consideration of climbing in various areas throughout MTRP.
The MTRP voted to incorporate ACSDs request to remove the restrictive language that limited climbing; additional language was included that should benefit the climbing community in the future. A programmatic EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is being prepared in conjunction with the MTRP Master Plan which will evaluate other climbing opportunities within Mission Trails Regional Park. This is wonderful news, to say the least, and is the first step in building positive relationships with the MTRP Citizens Advisory Committee and park staff as we look to the future to create additional "responsible" climbing opportunities within the park. Don't plan on any of these additional climbing opportunities becoming available immediately, but do plan on rolling up our collective sleeves as there will be plenty of work ahead as we move forward and assist the park with the planning and operational logistics. Climbers and the park staff will need to work together to make these "opportunities" a reality! Thank you to everyone who signed the petition. Your signatures-your voices-were heard! For more information, see http://alliedclimbers.org/mtrp.php
Proposed Kentucky Highway Improvements Could Negatively Impact Muir Valley Climbing
By Doris Edwards, Friends of Muir Valley, Co-chair; Rick and Liz Weber, Muir Valley, LLC, owners
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) is undertaking a project that could have a significant detrimental impact on climbing access to Muir Valley Nature Preserve. The poorly publicized timeline and funding for this project are not definitive, so the final outcome can still be influenced by public comment. Local, non-climbing residents favor an alternative which results in less impacts to their own properties and greater impacts to the Muir Valley Preserve. It is imperative that climbers weigh in and let the KTC know how their alternative plans would impact climbing and other forms of recreation.
In less than five years, Muir Valley has grown to be one of the highest visited climbing venues in the Eastern U.S. In 2007, over 10,600 visitor days were recorded for the Preserve and will rise to over 12,000 in 2008. Muir Valley is privately owned, climber friendly, and free to the public.
Specifically, the KTC is studying how to re-route and improve KY Highway 715 between KY 11 near Zachariah and the Mountain Parkway in Wolfe County. A total of nine alternatives are under consideration. Most of these alternatives would have a negative impact on Muir Valley as a portion of the Preserve would be acquired through eminent domain, possibly closing the emergency and maintenance road entrance to the Valley. KTCs Alternatives A, C, or X (X being nothing changes) would have the least detrimental impact to Muir Valley, but Alternatives E or F would have a disastrous one. The very heart of the Preserve would be lost to eminent domain and the Muir Valley owners would likely close the Preserve to all recreational activities (including climbing) permanently. Click here to view a map of Muir Valley with the study area shown overlaid in pink. The map shows that over half of the climbs in Muir Valley lie in area that could be taken by eminent domain.
Muir Valley owners, Rick and Liz Weber, are in contact with KY officials and have commented on alternatives. They appreciate the support and guidance of the Access Fund, specifically Jason Keith, Access Fund Policy Director, in dealing with the public process. Updated information will be posted on www.MuirValley.com as available.
Climbers and other interested parties are strongly encouraged to help protect their access to Muir Valley by submitting comments. Request that the Alternative selected be one that will have the least impact on Muir Valley. Written comments should be sent to:
Director, Division of Planning
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
200 Mero Street Station W5-05-0
Frankfort, KY 40622
Or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unaweep Canyon Under New Ownership
By Eve Tallman, Secretary of the Western Colorado Climbers' Coalition
Mothers Buttress, a major crag in Unaweep Canyon near Grand Junction, Colorado, has been sold to the Western Colorado Climbers Coalition (WCCC) by the parcel's new owners, John and Marti Peterson of Gunnison, Colorado. Local climbers formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in part to purchase the land so climbers may access the granite climbing area in perpetuity. With grants from the Access Fund, REI, and donations from the National Outdoor Leadership School, as well as gifts from several individuals, the WCCC raised money and in-kind donations to help move the deal forward.
Dave Foley, a surveyor, and Access Fund Board Member Steve Johnson, an attorney, both from Telluride, donated hours of service to ensure the success of the exchange. Realtor John Eakins donated part of his fee to the project as well. The coalition still seeks approximately $4,000 to seal the deal. Tax-deductible donations can be made by contacting the WCCC, www.westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com
At the Adopt-a-Crag event on October 26, a small group from the WCCC built a new trail to access the crags from the highway. Donations of food and gear made for a happy crew. In other news, WCCC members Kris Hjelle, John Eakins, and Jim Black replaced the decrepit fence crossing at the Access Fund trailhead to Unaweep's Sunday Wall. Thanks to donations from the local Home Depot and the sweat equity of Kris and John, the new ladder should last another 20 years. For more information, email the WCC at Western_co_climbers@hotmail.com