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Access agreements are a great tool for reopening closed climbing areas or providing public access to new areas. These agreements can take many forms—including recreational leases, stewardship agreements, access easements, climbing management agreements, and licenses—and can be tailored to the needs of the area. These types of agreements may be the key for public and private landowners to support climbing in their natural areas and parks.
A recreational lease is the most common type of access agreement, and is a written agreement between a landowner and an individual or organization that allows certain uses of the land during for a defined period of time. Typical recreational uses include climbing, hunting, fishing, camping, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Recreational leases can help owners who have trespass problems gain more control over their land. They can also add diversity and flexibility to usual operations, as well as increase cash income if annual lease payments are incorporated. See more important considerations on recreational leases.
In general, most access agreements are often temporary or non-binding in nature, assigning rights and responsibilities to the climbing community and landowners. An effective agreement should anticipate possible problems and describe how each would be resolved.
One potential model is a jointly held agreement or lease with the private/public landowner, Access Fund, and a local climbing organization (LCO). The benefits of such an agreement would be:
Partnering with local climbing communities and landowners, the Access Fund has successfully protected and opened the following climbing areas:
2012 Auburn Quarry Concession Contract, California
2012 Bubba City Recreational and Parking Lot Easement Agreement, West Virginia
2006 Oak Flat and Queen Creek Canyon Recreational Use License, Arizona
This information is provided as general background and the Access Fund is not providing legal advice. Laws vary from state to state and change regularly. Interested parties should always seek qualified legal counsel by consulting their own private counsel in their local jurisdiction.