Access Fund and Backcountry Award More Than $30,000 in Climbing Conservation Grants

Access Fund, with the generous support of Backcountry, is pleased to announce $30,000 in climbing conservation grants. These grants will help bring ten exciting local climbing organization (LCO) projects around the country to life. These projects address specific and immediate needs of different crags and communities.

“Every day, countless climbers walk across bridges, belay from stances, poop in pit toilets, and park in lots funded by Access Fund climbing conservation grants,” says Access Fund National Affiliate Director Jenna Winkler. “We’re proud to support projects across the country that protect and conserve the land, ensure sustainable access, and build a community of climbing advocates.”

Since 1991, Access Fund has awarded more than $1.4 million in Climbing Conservation Grants to support land conservation and protect climbing access. This year’s grantees include:

Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC): Maibauer Boulders Parking Lot

Bouldering at the Maibauer Boulders. Ancestral Lands of Keyauwee, Cheraw, Catawba, and Yesan (Tutelo).

CCC recently purchased its fifth climber-owned property, the Maibauer Boulders. This purchase conserved 32 acres of hardwood forest and more than 100 boulder problems near Love Valley, North Carolina. To support sustainable access to this area, Access Fund is awarding a grant to improve the existing trails and build a new parking lot.

Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC): Northern Alabama Stewardship Initiative

Northern Alabama, especially the greater Huntsville and Gadsden areas, has seen a spike in the popularity of climbing. To get out in front of the potential for increased climber impact, SCC is leading the community to steward these areas with the Northern Alabama Stewardship Initiative. The project takes a two-fold approach to conserving the land and protecting climbing access in northern Alabama—stewardship on existing SCC property, and new climbing access potential to spread out climber impact. Grant funding will go toward supplies and tools for trail days, staff time, and updated signage.

Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA): Pine Creek Climbing Impact Mapping and Data Collection

Pine Creek Canyon. Ancestral lands of Northern Paiute, Western Shoshone, Eastern Mono/Monache.

This mapping and usage project digs into climber usage in the Pine Creek and Buttermilks climbing areas. It will also help ESIA prepare and plan for future trailwork to reroute, improve, and remove existing trails. The grant money supports the Bishop climbing rangers’ time spent on this project.

Friends of Cedar Mesa (FCM): Visit With Respect at Indian Creek Climbing Area

Indian Creek, Bears Ears National Monument, UT. Ancestral lands of Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain, Hopi, and Zuni.

Indian creek is an international climbing destination. Many visitors—including climbers—don’t know about the area's wealth of cultural resources, including rock art, artifacts, and ancestral sites. FCM’s Visit with Respect campaign educates climbers and other visitors about responsible recreation in and around sacred cultural sites. Grant funding will support design, printing, and installation of seven educational signs in key spots in and around Indian Creek.

Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition (WMCC): Farley Parking Lot Project

Farley Ledges boasts 400 routes and boulder problems that attract climbers from throughout the region. It is the most popular crag that WMCC stewards. The crag’s popularity calls for expansion and improvement of the parking. Improvements include regrading, new signage, and adding an accessible parking space and guardrail. Additionally, WMCC will buy and install materials to prevent erosion on the upper slope and railroad ties and rebar for a guardrail. Volunteers will install these additions as well as a second kiosk and parking signage.

Great Plains Climbing Coalition (GPCC): Start Up Funding

Bouldering in Blue Mounds State Park, Minnesota. Ancestral lands of Očhéthi Šakówiŋ and Yankton. © Ryan Schaefer.

GPCC is the newest LCO in South Dakota. The organization formed to address the increase in climbers and improve climbing opportunities. Two climbing gyms and the general increased interest in climbing have driven more traffic to local crags. Instead of waiting to see how this might impact natural resources, climbers formed GPCC. The group will help maintain local climbing areas and continue to improve climbing access. Our grant covers trailwork supplies and initial nonprofit formation costs: IRS filing, website development, and insurance.

Helena Climbers’ Coalition (HCC): Hellgate Canyon Winter Wall Improvements

We’re proud to support HCC’s crag restoration project at Winter Wall in Hellgate Canyon. The area is a popular winter climbing destination near Helena, Montana—and this project reflects that. It will tackle a spider web of social trails, dilapidated belay pads, and an eroding hillside. HCC will use its grant to rehabilitate and reinforce the climbing area. The crew will construct durable stairs and retaining walls that concentrate climber impact where new infrastructure can handle it.

New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC): Summersville Lake and Sandstonia Wag Bag Program

Future wag bag station site at a trailhead in New River Gorge, West Virginia. Ancestral lands of S’atsoyaha, Tutelo and Moneton.

Wag bag programs are a proven way to reduce human waste at popular crags. Grant funding will support NRAC’s work to install and maintain wag bag distribution stations along the main climbing access trails at Summersville Lake and Sandstonia. Both areas are among the most popular in the region, yet neither provide any way to dispose of human waste. Wag Bag stations will provide users an easy solution to pack out their waste. They ease human impacts on an area and improve the experience for everyone who visits.

Northwest California Climber’s Coalition (NWCCC): Crag Visual Impact Reduction and NWCCC Startup

Nonprofit incorporation isn’t cheap and it can be a barrier for new LCOs. NWCCC’s grant will help cover the expense of incorporating as a California nonprofit. Official recognition will increase NWCCC’s credibility among climbers and for climbing in northwest California. Funding will also support the purchase of camouflage bolts. NWCCC hopes these bolts will reduce visual impact and improve relations with local land managers.

Ouray Climbers Alliance (OCA): Rotary Park Kiosk

Climbing in Rotary Park, Ouray, Colorado. Ancestral lands of Diné Bikéyah, Pueblos, and Ute.

Rotary Park is a popular crag in Ouray that hosts sport climbs from 5.3 to 5.12+. OCA’s grant will allow the group to install a shelter and educational kiosk in the park. The kiosk will provide education on low-impact best practices, safe climbing, local geology and wildlife. It will also celebrate the Ute and Pueblo people, the first inhabitants of the Ouray Valley. The shelter will protect visitors from the elements and provide a station to practice sport climbing techniques like cleaning and anchor building. Both the kiosk and shelter are designed to be wheelchair accessible.

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