The next action on this legislation will be a floor vote in the US House of Representatives involving all House members. Therefore, no matter where you live in the United States, you can have a say in this fight by asking your Congressman to oppose HR 687.
Residents in NM, OR, SD, LA, WA, MI, CO, AZ, MN, WV, DE, VT, AK, WY, ID, UT, SC, HI, OH, ND, NV, and TN have the additional ability to help save this climbing area, because one of your Senators sits on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which is currently considering the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange. Arizona climbers should make their voices heard to Senators Flake and McCain.
The House companion bill HR 687 has already been voted out of committee and will likely get a floor vote in the summer of 2013. Although both Arizona Senators Flake and McCain are in favor of the exchange, this controversial bill will face greater opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Access Fund and Arizona climbing community have long worked to protect climbing in central Arizona, and we need your help. Please write your Senators on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and let them know your views on this land exchange.
The draft letter below can be copied—in part or in full—into the web form for your state linked below. See the Access Fund’s most recent testimony, and use these talking points and the letter below as a template for your personal comments to Congress.
DRAFT LETTER—COPY AND PASTE ANY PORTION INTO WEB FORMS ABOVE
The Honorable [your Senator here] US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Dear Senator [your Senator here],
I write in opposition to S 339, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2013. I am a climber who opposes this legislation because it would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey the highly popular public recreational rock climbing resource at Oak Flat, Arizona for use as an underground copper mine.
Rock climbers are numerically the largest recreation group that uses the Oak Flat/Queen Creek area, and we also stand to suffer the largest loss if this area is destroyed by mining activities. There are over one thousand established rock climbs in the Oak Flat area that will subside into an enormous crater if Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) is allowed to proceed with their present plan to “block cave” mine the underlying ore deposit.
For decades climbers have frequented the Oak Flat/Queen Creek Canyon area in Central Arizona to scale the vast assortment of cliffs, canyons, and boulders. Climbing at Oak Flat over the years—one of the country’s few areas widely visited during winter months—proved so popular that the area hosted the Phoenix Bouldering Contest for several years which eventually became the world’s largest such event. Since 2004 a variety of climbing groups in Arizona have worked with conservation organizations, officials from local and federal government, and Resolution Copper Mining to address the severe impacts that this bill would cause to Oak Flat and the recreation community in central Arizona. The local climbing group, the Concerned Climbers of Arizona, is adamantly opposed to this legislation.
I urge you to oppose this bill because it is nothing more than a piece of special interest legislation benefitting only the two giant, foreign owned mining companies that own RCM. There is nothing in this legislation to address the concerns of the many recreational users of Oak Flat, nothing to address the legitimate concerns of the Native American users of the area and S 339 fails to require any meaningful environmental analysis prior to the transfer of our public land to RCM.
This bill would circumvent the proper public process mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for prior analysis of any major federal action on public land. Such an analysis would assess the impact mine operations would have on the health of nearby residents, water quality, air quality, cultural resources, transportation, and the overall environment. S 339 unreasonably requires the exchange to be completed within one year. Such a rushed timetable will eliminate any meaningful analysis of this project and limit a real determination whether this mine is in the public’s interest. Because the provisions in S 339 virtually ensure the development of this mine, and the public has very little information on the environmental implications of this mine, this exchange is not in the public’s interest.
The Boulder Climbing Community, in partnership with land managers, the Access Fund, and other partners is seeking input from climbers to get a better understanding of climbing use patterns and impacts in Boulder Canyon. If you climb in Boulder Canyon, please take a moment and fill out the survey. Your input is greatly appreciated!
Grant Applications Due March 1st Got an access or stewardship project that needs funding? It’s not too late to submit a grant application for our spring cycle. The Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grant Program funds projects that preserve or enhance climbing access and conserve the climbing environment throughout the United States. We look to award grants to organizations and individuals that identify and work on the root causes of local climbing access and conservation issues and that approach issues with a commitment to long-term change. If you have a project that fits this criteria, please read more about our grant guidelines and fill out an application.
Grant applications are due March 1st. Massacre & Castle Rocks: Your Advocacy in Action In mid-November we blasted an Action Alert asking for your help after the BLM proposed a new climbing ban at Massacre and proposed making its current temporary ban at Castle Rocks permanent due to fears that climbing could potentially have negative impacts on cultural resources at both locations. Concerned climbers submitted hundreds of letters to the BLM outlining reasonable compromises that allow climbing and protection of cultural resources. Thanks to your advocacy and the hard work of Boise Climbers Alliance, the Eastern Idaho Climbers Coalition, and members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation, the BLM has reconsidered its proposal. They are in the process of developing separate environmental assessments for Massacre Rocks and Castle Rocks, which will include an option that allows climbing. While the outcome is still uncertain, this is good progress. Stay tuned e-news for updates. Jailhouse Gets a Makeover 12/14/2011
This November, dollars from the Unlock Jailhouse fundraising campaign were put into action as 45 climbers spent the day with shovels in hand to start a new era at Jailhouse, ensuring that climbers can safely park their cars at a new trailhead half the distance to the crag. The new Access Fund Conservation Team organized dozens of volunteers in its most extensive project to date.
Rifle Expansion on the Horizon? 12/15/2011 Rifle Mountain Park (“Rifle”) in Colorado offers some of America’s finest limestone sport climbing. Immediately down the canyon is a piece of property known as Rifle Falls State Fish Unit (“Rifle Falls”), owned by Colorado Division of Wildlife, which contains climbing resources comparable to the excellent climbing found at Rifle. Climbing is currently prohibited on the property, but the Access Fund and Rifle Climbers Coalition (RCC) have been working together to open this property to climbing. This past summer, we commissioned a biological survey of Rifle Falls to understand whether wildlife may be impacted by climbers. In November, the AF and RCC petitioned the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission requesting climbing development be allowed at Rifle Falls. In January 2012, the AF and RCC will present their vision for climbing at Rifle Falls to the Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Stay tuned to e-news for more information. Safe Harbor “South” Crags Re-Open! 12/14/2011 We are happy to report that after more than a decade in limbo, the crags at Safe Harbor in Pennsylvania have been partially re-opened to climbing. The Access Fund has been assisting Eric Horst and local climbers for over 10 years. With the recent relocation of the high-tension power lines, both Amtrak and Conestoga Township have agreed to allow climbing to resume along the rail trail in Conestoga Township. The cliffs along this section of the old low-grade railway comprise what climbers refer to as Safe Harbor “South”. The cliffs upstream of the dam (Safe Harbor “North”) remain closed, pending Manor Township’s acquisition of their portion of the abandoned low-grade line. If parking is limited, consider another crag to avoid blocking the narrow road. Stay tuned for more details and opportunities to help make access sustainable.
Access Fund Senior Policy Advisor, Jason Keith, moderates a panel of senior level federal land managers
The first-ever Outdoor Alliance Partnership Summit kicked off on the evening of Dec. 6, at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, CO. The two-day meeting brought together field staff and volunteers from each of the six OA groups—as well as representatives from state and federal land management agencies—to share stories of successful working relationships from around the United States. “When people think of public lands, it’s too often that they focus on the same old argument of recreation versus extraction,” says Adam Cramer, Policy Architect for OA. “This event brought leaders together to figure out how to strike the best balance of land use and protection.”
The summit opened with a videotaped address from Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). He praised the Outdoor Alliance for its successes combining local efforts with federal initiatives to mobilize the next generation of outdoor stewards. Peter Metcalf, CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, gave the keynote address.
Sessions covered a wide range of topics including the economic benefits of shared-use trail systems, ecological benefits of river restoration, successful travel management planning, youth engagement and partnership techniques for turning innovative visions into real projects. “We focused on 18 stories of public/private partnerships that balance recreation and conservation, and identified common elements which led to success,” says Brady Robinson, Executive Director of the Access Fund. “The goal of the summit was to encourage land managers and advocates to understand each other’s perspectives, to see that we share many goals and values, and to chart positive ways to work together. On all counts the meeting was a huge success.”
The Outdoor Alliance (OA) is a coalition of six conservation and recreation groups: Access Fund, American Canoe Association, American Hiking Society, American
Summit attendees celebrate a productive couple of days at the Outdoor Alliance Partnership Summit in Golden, Colorado.
Whitewater, Winter Wildlands, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Together, they have a long tradition of preserving public access to American’s outdoors, making sure people have crags to climb, trails to hike, waters to paddle, and mountains to ski. The goal of the Outdoor Alliance is to ensure conservation and stewardship of our nation’s land and waters through the promotion of sustainable, human-powered recreation.
The Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) made their final payment last week on their Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign (AFLCC) loan, completing their purchase of the Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders in North Carolina. The six acres of climber-owned boulders are centrally located to Asheville, Charlotte, and Greenville, SC and contain approximately 200 high quality boulder problems. The area sees considerable use from southeast climbers. The CCC and the Access Fund worked together to purchase this popular bouldering area from a private developer in 2009. The CCC is the third organization to fully pay back their AFLCC loan, returning funds to the revolving loan program where the Access Fund will loan the money out again to save another threatened climbing area.
With the help of several BLM staff and volunteer archeologists, Dave and Jeff addressed some issues at the Tablelands in Bishop, CA that were encroaching on archeological sites. The group closed a couple of roads and camping areas, dismantled fire pits, and removed a stone wall that had been constructed as a wind shelter—all of which were impacting the archeological sites. After completing work at the Tablelands, Dave and Jeff moved on to install some trademark “Conservation Team” steps on the approach to the Sad Boulders and, with the help of four dedicated local volunteers, installed a bunch of check dams (more than they cared to count at the end of the day), and addressed other areas of the trail that were a concern. "Overall, the Sads approach is much more sustainable than it was when we arrived," says Dave. Now on to Sonora for the Jailhouse Adopt a Crag....
The Washington Climbers' Coalition has joined forces with the Access Fund for the good of climbers and climbing access in Washington state. You can now join both organizations at the same time, and receive two sets of benefits for the cost of one! Joint membership starts at just $35!
The Access Fund has combined forces with the Boulder Climbing Community for the good of climbers and climbing access in the Boulder, Colorado area. By combining membership, you can now support both the national and local climbing access organizations, as well as receive benefits from both organizations for the cost of one. Membership starts at just $35!
The Conservation Team arrived in Prescott on the morning of November 17th and met with Kevin Keith, the AF Regional Coordinator for the area. After helping Dave and Jeff get situated in a camping spot in town, Kevin gave the guys a tour of the Granite Dells climbing area. They surveyed the High Rappel Dell crag and discovered that the initial approach from what will eventually be a city parking lot/trail head, was severely eroded and abraded.
The Conservation Team determined that traffic needed to be redirected to a more sustainable surface, and elected to install a timber staircase that redirects traffic to the slick rock access to the climbing area. Dave, Jeff, and Kevin spent 3 days working on the project. They installed a beautiful serpentine set of timber stairs and a stone retaining wall, using what stone was available locally to hold the soil in place above the stairs.
Are you an Access Fund member in good standing? Then you’re eligible to receive “preferred pricing” on most Chrysler vehicles, including Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat and Chrysler. Get thousands off MSRP without haggling! This unique membership benefit is part of Jeep® brand’s support of our new Access Fund Conservation Team. Not a member? Join today and you’ll be eligible for this great discount after only 30 days of membership!
On October 26, 2011, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011 which would exchange approximately 2,400 acres of public land for 5,300 acres held by a multi-national mining company for the creation of a massive copper mine. The public land to be exchanged includes the Oak Flat campground, and a popular climbing area with hundreds of existing roped climbing routes and thousands of bouldering problems that for years was home of the historic Phoenix Bouldering Contest. Much of the Oak Flat area was protected from mining through an executive order made during the Eisenhower Administration, but now Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) seeks to take possession of the land through an act of Congress. A spirited debate on the bill in the House of Representatives may be viewed here. The Senate now must introduce and pass a “companion bill” before the exchange is signed into law.
Earlier this year, the Access Fund submitted comments on the bill, H.R. 1904. Because provisions favorable to climbers which were included in past versions of the bill have been removed, new environmental concerns have emerged (namely the omission of a pre-exchange NEPA process), and climbers have yet to complete an agreement with RCM to address the loss of climbing resources, the Access Fund opposes H.R. 1904 while these issues remain unresolved.
The Access Fund and Arizona climbing community have long worked to protect climbing in central Arizona, first through the Friends of Queen Creek, then the Queen Creek Coalition (QCC), and more recently the QCC and the Concerned Climbers of Arizona (CCA). Strategic disagreements in the climbing community split the QCC into two groups: one that retains the QCC name and works to “maximize rock climbing resources in the Queen Creek region of Arizona by maintaining productive relationships with involved companies, land managers and civic leaders” and the CCA who “advocate for continued recreational access to climbing areas that are threatened by development or other forms of encroachment.” Comments on H.R. 1904 from the QCC may be found here. The CCA position on H.R. 1904 is found here.
The Access Fund has not exclusively sided with either of central Arizona’s climbing advocacy groups, but continues to work with each organization, Congress, and RCM directly to advocate for climbing access and the conservation of climbing resources in Arizona.
There are many recent articles which cover the bill in greater detail. RCM has posted a video promoting the mine, which includes an overview of the block cave mining technique and a simulation of the damage that would occur through surface subsidence.
Although both Arizona Senators Kyl and McCain are in favor of the exchange, the controversial bill will face greater opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Access Fund will continue to monitor the situation, directly engage members of Congress, and send an action alert soliciting climber input when the companion bill is introduced in the U.S. Senate.
Southern hospitality is alive and well in the Red! The feedback we received from the locals was great—everyone was very appreciative of our visit and our work. We completed a stone step project at the Solar Collector/Gold Coast approach. The project consisted of installing 15 stone steps and a stone retaining wall to replace the existing decaying wood structures. We were fortunate to find good building stone in abundance in the area, and the soils there lend themselves very well to trail work, being primarily composed of clay. We spent two long days completing the project, and overall were very pleased with the finished product. We were assisted by Matt Tackett of the RRGCC during a brief site visit in which we discussed the details of the project.
There are still a few tools that we need to acquire that would make our lives easier and our work better. I also need stronger forearms to climb in the Red. Dave's good, even without much of an index finger. So if you guys could get on that, that would be great ;).
In addition to our work at the Solar Collector/Gold Coast area we were fortunate to meet with Rick & Liz Weber, the owners of Muir Valley. Rick took us on a tour of the property, where we made an assessment of some trail work. There is an endless potential for future projects in the Red, both in the PMRP & Muir Valley. And RRGC and Rick and Liz are enthusiastic about us returning in the spring for a bigger project with more volunteer support.
We hit Rocktoberfest on Friday and Saturday nights and worked the Access Fund booth—great time. On Sunday night, we were invited to Dr. Bob Matheny's for a much appreciated post-event dinner/party.
Thanks to Bob, Matt, Rick and Liz for a memorable trip. Now on to Indian Creek!
As reported in August E-News, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Idaho is proposing a climbing ban on its property at Massacre Rocks and making its ban at Castle Rocks permanent due to fears that climbing could potentially have negative impacts on cultural resources at each location. The Access Fund is working with the Boise Climbers Association (BCA), the Eastern Idaho Climbers Coalition (EICC), members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation, the local BLM, and other concerned stakeholders to find a reasonable compromise that allows climbing and protects valuable culture resources.
Recently, Jason Keith (AF Senior Policy Advisor) and R.D. Pascoe (AF Policy Director) travelled to Idaho for several meetings with the Working Group to find possible solutions. The AF, the BCA, and potentially the EICC are drafting a joint comment letter that provides site specific suggestions that accommodate climbing and protect sensitive cultural resources. Members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation, Idaho State and County Officials, and local civic leaders are encouraging the BLM to consider an option that permits climbing. The AF is offering climbing management expertise, funding for research/monitoring, and volunteer stewardship support. Stay tuned for more to come.
The 2011 National Access and Stewardship Summit in Golden, CO was our largest to date and featured three concurrent tracks for attendees to choose from. The Access Fund provided travel scholarships to encourage regional diversity, and attracted nearly 75 climbers from across the States as well as Canada and Latin America. A total of 17 workshops covered important topics in stewardship, education, land conservation, policy, and local support and mobilization. Rocky Mountain Field Institute and Colorado Mountain Club hosted hands-on training in volunteer management and advanced rock work at the Access Fund-owned Golden Cliffs Preserve.
Thanks to all the presenters, volunteers, sponsors, and attendees. And a special thanks to Colorado Mountain Club, who provided the American Mountaineering Center to host the conference. And a special thanks to CLIF Bar for their incredible support as part of the Meet the Moment Campaign. CLIF Bar went above and beyond, and even hosted a taco truck for volunteers. If you missed out on the Summit, don’t fear—all the workshops were professionally filmed by Louder than 11. Stay tuned for online videos in the coming months. You can also contact email@example.com to access workshop materials.
The Access Fund is excited to announce that the Access Fund’s new traveling Conservation Team, sponsored by Jeep® brand, is ready to hit the road—first stop the Rocktoberfest climbing festival in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky. After the festival, the crew will take on their first stewardship project in collaboration with the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition.
After interviewing many great candidates, the Access Fund is pleased to welcome Dave Montgomery and Jeff Young as the Conservation Team crew. The duo met during their days working for Jefferson County Open Space in Colorado as trail technicians, and applied for the crew together. Both are avid climbers and come to the Access Fund with extensive trail building, stewardship, and conservation expertise.
Dave and Jeff check out the new 2011 Jeep Patriot as they prepare to hit the road. Shown with Stewardship Manager, Jenny Blackmore who will be managing Conservation Team logistics from the Boulder office
Dave, a native to Colorado, is a dedicated volunteer and has worked to coordinate numerous stewardship events at climbing areas in the South Platte. He has also worked extensively with kids, teaching Leave No Trace clinics and coaching a youth climbing team for a recreational center. Jeff, an Illinois native, is also an avid volunteer, lending his time and trail building skills to numerous Adopt a Crag events across the Colorado front range. The Access Fund is thrilled to have Dave and Jeff leading the Conservation Team.
The Conservation Team will be leaving the Access Fund office in a new 2011 Jeep Patriot on October 4 and will make their way to Kentucky by October 7. “We’re excited to work with the Red River Gorge climbers to help address their conservation needs,” says Dave. The team will work with locals to provide training on planning and stewardship best practices.
“We are honored and excited that the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team is kicking off their tour at the Red River Gorge,” says Rick Bost of the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition. “This program is going to have a huge positive impact on the climbing areas throughout the US as well as promote more cooperation between the local climbing organizations and the Access Fund.”
The Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team mission is to address conservation issues at climbing areas around the country before they become dire. To make a donation to support this critical work, visit www.accessfund.org/CTdonate.
The Conservation Team is made possible by Title Sponsor, Jeep, and Supporting Sponsors, CLIF Bar, Outdoor Research and REI.
The Gunks Climbers' Coalition has joined forces with the Access Fund for the good of climbers and climbing access along the Shawangunk Ridge and surrounding areas. You can now join both organizations at the same time, and receive two sets of benefits for the cost of one! Joint membership starts at just $35!