Access Fund Announces First Round Grant Recipients for 2014

4/3/2014

The Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded over $21,000 in this first round of the 2014 Climbing Preservation Grants Program. Each year, the Access Fund awards up to $40,000 in grant money to local climbing communities with worthy projects that preserve or enhance climbing access. The Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grants Program is an example of membership dollars at work in local climbing communities across the country. Again this round, Access Fund members got the opportunity to review qualifying grant projects and rate them, providing valuable input to our grant selection committee as to which projects they want their contributions to support. We are pleased to announce funding for the following worthy projects.

Blount County: Palisades Park Acquisition (AL)
Blount County was awarded funding for the purchase of 20 acres adjacent to Palisades Park near Oneonta, Alabama. The private property features approximately 750 feet of bluff for rock climbing and scenic views, as well as several large, quality boulders. The acquisition will protect the forested area’s beautiful natural setting and a variety of plants and wildlife that will enhance the existing park. The climber-friendly county has received positive feedback and support from the climbing community and local partner Southeastern Climbers Coalition.

Central Wyoming Climbers Alliance: Start-Up Costs (WY)
Wyoming climbers were awarded grant funding to form the Central Wyoming Climbers Alliance, a coalition to support climbing areas and grassroots efforts such as the International Climbers Festival and anchor replacement. The local climbing organization plans to serve as the formal, on-the-ground partner with land managers and the outdoor community to protect popular climbing areas such as Sinks Canyon, Wild Iris, the Wind River Range, and various bouldering areas. The fundingwill help cover the cost of seeking federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status so local climbers can better work for the needs of the central Wyoming climbing community. 

Clifton Climbers Alliance: Eagle Bluff Acquisition (ME)
Clifton Climbers Alliance was awarded funding to help save Eagle Bluff, a popular crag in Clifton, Maine, that was closed to climbing in 2013 and put up for sale. Climbing began here in the late 1960s and features over 130 cracks and sport climbs as well as bouldering below the bluff. Eagle Bluff has introduced many people to outdoor climbing and is utilized by several local groups and organizations. The climbing community has secured the sole right to acquire Eagle Bluff with an Option Agreement currently held by the Access Fund, and has until August 1st to raise $150,000 to protect this beautiful dome rising from the Maine woods.  

Daniel Boone National Forest: Red River Gorge Staging Area Impact Study (KY)
Daniel Boone National Forest was awarded funding to help recreation planner and graduate student Nicholas Walendziak conduct an important research project at climbing areas in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky. The project will compare and analyze the biophysical impact trends at staging areas below popular climbs with the same standardized data collection employed in 2008. The results will inform a climbing management plan to keep recreational impacts within the Forest Service’s Limits of Acceptable Change. The research will also help partners, such as the Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition, to prioritize trail projects. 

Manti-La Sal National Forest: Mill Creek Trail Improvements and Kiosk (UT)
The Manti-La Sal National Forest was awarded funding to enhance access to the increasingly popular Mill Creek Gorge climbing area outside Moab, Utah. The area currently lacks a designated trail system to the climbs, and with the increasing amount of human impacts, climbing access is likely to be threatened in the near future. Manti-La Sal National Forest will use grant funding to design and construct a sustainable access trail and install an information kiosk at the trailhead to reduce the impacts of human use on the sensitive riparian area. Friends of Indian Creek will provide volunteer support to help ensure a future of sustainable climbing access. 

Red River Gorge Climber's Coalition (RRGCC): Miller Fork Infrastructure Improvements (KY)
RRGCC was awarded funding for improvements to Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP), a previously undeveloped 300-acre area in Lee County, Kentucky, which they purchased last year. Route development has already begun at the MFRP, but the area lacks a sustainable trail system, bridges, and parking. RRGC will use grant funds to create a parking area for over 30 cars, bridges to cross numerous creeks on the property, and a sustainable trail system, providing access to over 20 crags with over 250 newly developed climbs. 

Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI): Shelf Road Trail Improvements (CO)
RMFI was awarded funding to improve the trail infrastructure at the Bank area of Shelf Road, Colorado. RMFI will improve 0.5 miles of climbing access trails and restore 0.25 miles of heavily eroded social trails. Shelf Road continues to increase in popularity; a user count tallied over 30,000 visitors to the Bank Area in 2013. This project will result in improved access to the crag while building stewardship support for Shelf Road’s natural resources—protecting it for future recreational use.  

Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA): Joe's Valley Recreation Site Assessment (UT)
SLCA was awarded funding to conduct a site assessment that will improve access and protect natural resources at Joe’s Valley in Utah, an expansive bouldering area of growing national popularity. SLCA will conduct professional GIS mapping and spatial analysis of bouldering sites, dispersed campsites, social trails, and parking. The data will be compiled into a formal report and give recommendations to the land managers of Joe’s Valley for future trail work, restoration, and recreational improvements. This assessment will serve as a model for other climbing areas and will set a precedent for land managers to seek input from recreation groups in their planning efforts. 

Western Massachusetts Climbers' Coalition (WMCC): Farley Ledge Parking Improvements (MA)
The WMCC was awarded funding for parking improvements at Farley ledge, where they purchased property at the base of the cliff in 2007 to protect against potential development and provide access to the cliff and trail system. Farley’s popularity has continued to grow, and it is now necessary to improve portions of the current parking lot to alleviate concerns about erosion, rutting, and occasional inaccessibility. This funding will help pave the existing steep, gravel driveway to ensure a more sustainable and durable site, demonstrating a proactive resource management and improvement initiative.