Access Fund and Backcountry Award Over $35,000 in Climbing Conservation Grants

Access Fund, with the generous support of Backcountry, is pleased to announce more than $35,000 in Climbing Conservation Grants. From among a pool of outstanding applicants and projects, the Access Fund and its Grants Committee identified projects that stand to have the highest positive impact on climbing access and conserving climbing areas. The six projects that were selected span the country and include parking lot build-outs, education kiosks, land acquisitions, and trail erosion mitigation. Since 1991, the Climbing Conservation Grant program has awarded more than $1.4 million for 427 local projects in 42 states, including the six worthy projects below.

Gunks Climbers’ Coalition: Millbrook Mountain Conservation Loan Payback

Ancestral lands of the Munsee Lenape.

In fall 2020, Gunks Climbers’ Coalition (GCC) purchased a significant portion of the cliff area on Millbrook Mountain in New York plus an easement for a driveway, parking area, and pedestrian access trail. This land acquisition makes it possible to access the south ridge (Ant Lion Crag) from the road for the first time. This new crag will open up access to 70+ new trad routes. GCC was awarded funding to help pay back the loan used to purchase this area.

Illinois Climbers Association: House Boulders Parking & Infrastructure Development

Ancestral lands of the Kiikaapoi, Kaskaskia, Osage, Myaamia, O-ga-xpa Ma-zhoⁿ, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.

Purchased by Illinois Climbers Association (ICA) in 2021, the fine-grained sandstone blocks of the House Boulders are a climber's dream. ICA was awarded grant funding to purchase the materials for the parking lot build-out, including an information kiosk and trail signage. With these crucial pieces of infrastructure in place, ICA plans to open the area to the public in fall 2022. ICA expects the proposed parking site and materials to yield 18 to 20 parking spots including four to six additional spots adjacent to the access driveway.

Iowa Climbers Coalition: Comic Gallery Stabilization Project

Ancestral lands of the Anishinabewaki and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.

The Comic Gallery area at Pictured Rocks County Park hosts some of the most popular climbs in the state of Iowa. Unfortunately, access from the trailhead to the base of these climbs has been deemed dangerous by the Department of Natural Resources due to excessive erosion caused partly by climbers accessing these routes. Iowa Climbers Coalition will restore the trailhead junction between the Comic Gallery by acquiring large locally sourced stone to create lasting steps to this wall. Grant funding will go toward the purchase of limestone for the stairs and a professional trail team to accomplish the build-out.

Monadnock Climbers Association: Hewes Hill Upgrade

Ancestral lands of the Pennacook , Wabanaki (Dawnland Confederacy) , and Abenaki / Abénaquis.

The parking at Hewes Hill in New Hampshire is extremely limited and has caused access issues due to an overflow of cars. Many climbers end up in the surrounding neighborhood, causing complaints from locals. The Monadnock Climbers Association will build a new lot and dig culverts to provide drainage and reduce muddy conditions. Grant funding will go toward the materials, tools, and labor necessary to complete the lot.

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The Conservation Fund: Sheridan Ranch Acquisition

Ancestral lands of the Shoshone-Bannock.

The Conservation Fund (TCF) recently acquired 360 acres of vacant land adjacent to City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park in Idaho in order to protect and conserve the land. The Sheridan Ranch parcel contains climbing within its own boundaries and also provides easy access to additional climbing within the City of Rocks boundaries. TCF’s fast action protected the land from development, and since then it has worked to secure agreements with state and federal agencies to purchase the land. Despite existing funding for the purchases, a shortfall remained. Alongside funds from Southern Idaho Climbing Coalition, Access Fund grant funding will cover part of the gap in funding in order to make The Conservation Fund whole again and pave the way for it to act quickly and decisively on future acquisitions.

Wilderness Volunteers: North Country Trail Construction to Improve Climbing Access and Reduce Climber Impact

Ancestral lands of the Eastern Shoshone, Arapaho, and Cheyenne.

The North Country Crag at Wild Iris in central Wyoming offers summertime shade, making it a desirable crag. Initial access to the North Country Crag was a trail leading to a hairpin turn on a relatively busy road that also provided local access to private homes. The limited parking at this point in the road results in unsafe driving conditions, increased impact from cars parked on the grass, and frustration from locals. The proposed North Country Trail will improve parking access and create new access for different sections of the North Country Crag that were not previously accessible by a formal trail. Wilderness Volunteers was awarded grant funding to help pay for the trail crew’s time and expenses.

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