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Access Fund Announces 2012 Sharp End Awards

Each year the Access Fund recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that go above and beyond to volunteer their time and efforts to protecting America’s climbing. 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.

Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award - Gene and Maura Kistler
The Access Fund is proud to recognize Gene and Maura Kistler with a Menocal Lifetime Achievement Award for years of climbing advocacy, stewardship, and service in the New River Gorge. Gene and Maura have dedicated hundreds of hours to stewardship efforts, worked with countless land managers, founded the New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC), served on the AF board of directors and as regional coordinators, and launched one the most successful and popular grassroots climbing events in the country—the New River Rendezvous. Through the Rendezvous, Gene and Maura continue to inspire climbers across the country with a grassroots event that has access as its underlying cause. Their energy and commitment to the climbing community has inspired many, and their work protects one of the country’s most important climbing areas.

Bebie Leadership Award - Matt Perkins
The Access Fund is honored to present a Bebie Leadership Award to Matt Perkins of the Washington Climbers Coalition. Matt has been a tireless advocate for climbing access in Washington for over 15 years. In 2012 alone, Matt worked to gain a reduced nesting closure near North Bend that drew full climber cooperation, advocated for reasonable fixed anchor policies in the North Cascades, helped raise money for a toilet at Vantage, and coordinated ten days of trail work at Index that involved 4 non-profits and a state agency. In addition, Matt was the face of the Washington Climbers Coalition in meetings with recreation groups and government agencies.

Reese Martin Award - Eric Sorenson
The Access Fund is thrilled to present Eric Sorenson with a Reese Martin Award for his climbing advocacy and stewardship in central Oregon. Cofounder of Central Oregon Rocks (COR), Eric has worked tirelessly to preserve and steward the many bouldering areas surrounding Bend. His leadership and collaborative approach has resulted in successful partnerships with local BLM and Forest Service offices, and preserved access to areas like the Widgi Boulders and Meadow Camp. Last year, Eric led a coalition of climbing advocacy organizations to work with the BLM toward more appropriate seasonal cliff-nesting bird closures at Trout Creek.

Sharp End Award - Bill Strachan
The Access Fund is proud to present Bill Strachan with a Sharp End Award for his many years of dedicated climbing advocacy in the Red River Gorge region of Kentucky. Bill serves as the executive director of the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition and has worked alongside other RRGCC advocates and volunteers toward the completion of the Pendergrass-Murray acquisition. He has faithfully represented climbers’ interests by showing up for every Forest Service meeting that affects climbing management. His commitment and involvement has also been key to RRGCC’s ongoing work with Daniel Boone National Forest to steward climbing areas, increase climbing access, and implement better climbing management overall.

Sharp End Award - Erik Eisele
The Access Fund honors Erik Eisele, Access Fund regional coordinator for New Hampshire, for his leadership in helping pass state legislation that supports climbing access. Avid climber, newspaper reporter, and North Conway local, Erik spearheaded a push to add climbing-specific language to NH House Bill 1551 to protect landowners who open their land for recreation and other uses. The law strengthens climbing access in NH and increases the likelihood that landowners will allow climbing on their land.

Sharp End Award - Sam Lightner Jr.
The Access Fund is pleased to honor Sam Lightner, Jr., for his dedicated and effective work as the president of the Friends of Indian Creek (FOIC). Even before taking the helm of FOIC, Sam worked proactively with local land managers at Indian Creek, Castleton, Arches, and elsewhere in the greater Canyonlands region to improve climber–land manager relationships, protect access, and organize stewardship projects. As FOIC president, Sam has greatly increased climbers’ ability to positively influence management proposals. His advocacy continues to strengthen climbing activism across southeastern Utah. And if you’ve ever rappelled off a bomber set of camouflaged bolts in the desert, chances are you’ve got Sam to thank!

Sharp End Award - Josh Reyes
The Access Fund is proud to recognize Josh Reyes for his work to permanently protect Hospital Boulders of Alabama and his service to the Southeastern climbing community. Josh has been an active board member of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition since 2007. He has consistently maintained positive relationships with the Hospital Boulders’ former landowners, with the goal of negotiating a purchase to protect the beautiful boulder field. Despite ongoing challenges, and nearly losing the boulders at private auction, his dedication and hard work paid off in November 2012 when Josh, along with SCC and the Access Fund, completed the purchase. 

Sharp End Award - Black Diamond
The Access Fund is honored to present Black Diamond with a Sharp End Award for their unwavering commitment to preserving and protecting the climbing environment. A generous supporter of the Access Fund since our grassroots beginnings, Black Diamond has helped the Access Fund grow stronger and expand our advocacy. Over the years, Black Diamond has joined the Access Fund in political action to protect climbing, and they continue to lead the outdoor industry in preserving the wild and natural places we climb. We applaud the company’s community-minded vision and commitment to access and the environment.

Land Conservation Award – Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition
The Access Fund is excited to present RRGCC with a Land Conservation Award for its dedication to protecting the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP). Situated in southeastern Kentucky’s Cumberland Plateau, the 750-acre preserve contains over 300 sport and traditional rock climbs. The area is extremely popular, attracting climbers from around the world. RRGCC purchased the PMRP in 2004 and fundraised for eight years through their annual Rocktoberfest event, major donors, and two Access Fund grants. In 2009, the Access Fund refinanced RRGCC’s remaining $65,000 seller-financed loan, eliminating the risk of losing the property if an annual payment was missed. With the support of climbers nationwide, the loan was repaid in October 2012. We congratulate RRGCC on this hard-won success!

Land Conservation Award – Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition
The Access Fund is proud to present the Western MassachusettsClimbers’ Coalition (WMCC) with a Land Conservation Award for its dedication to protecting climbing access at Farley Ledges. In December 2012, WMCC completed five years of fundraising for the Farley Ledges Preservation Initiative. Farley Ledges contain arguably the best climbing in southern New England between Rumney, New Hampshire, and the Gunks in eastern New York. WMCC’s 2007 acquisition of the area, after decades of troubled access, secured parking and critical access for climbers. WMCC paid down a significant portion of the original bank loan through annual fundraising events, major donors, an original Access Fund grant, and other grassroots fundraising. In 2009, the Access Fund refinanced the coalition’s remaining $30,000 bank loan. The WMCC successfully repaid the loan in December 2012, returning the money to the Access Fund’s revolving conservation fund where it will be available for future conservation efforts. 


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