Climbing Stewardship Initiative Comes to Birmingham Region

05/12/2016

Access Fund and Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) are excited to launch a three-year stewardship initiative to improve rock climbing areas in the greater Birmingham, Alabama region. Named The Greater Birmingham Climbing Resource Improvement Project, the initiative will target four climbing areas in the region: Moss Rock Preserve, Trussville Boulders, Palisades Park, and Steele.

Climbing sites in the greater Birmingham area are some of the most popular and historic in the southeastern region. Since at least the 1970s, the area’s many sandstone cliffs and boulders have attracted visiting climbers, including famous climbers like John Gill, Robyn Erbesfield, and Jimmy Webb. However, increased use has led to deteriorating conditions at many areas, including extensive graffiti and trash issues at Moss Rock. Similarly, erosion issues at Steele, Palisades Park, and Trussville Boulders require infrastructure improvements.

“Birmingham is a hub for climbers living in the deep South, and a destination for traveling climbers who bring out-of-state money in to strengthen the local economies. This project will help address unsustainable conditions at both popular and little-known climbing areas, ensuring these special resources can continue to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” says Access Fund Southeast Regional Director, Zachary Lesch-Huie.

Over the next three years, the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team will lead stewardship initiatives at all four climbing sites, working closely with SCC, local climbers, and volunteers. The Conservation Team is an Access Fund program, sponsored by Jeep, that puts two teams of conservation specialists on the road each year to work with land managers and local climbing organizations across the country to build more sustainable climbing areas. Both Conservation Teams will take part in this multi-year stewardship initiative.

“Protecting access to climbing areas is core to SCC’s work, but long-term stewardship is equally important. We are so excited to work with Access Fund’s Conservation Team to improve Birmingham climbing areas and set the highest standard possible for climbing stewardship,” says Cody Roney, SCC Executive Director.

Work will kick off later this month with the City of Hoover at Moss Rock Preserve, where the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team will spend several weeks leading volunteer groups to remove extensive graffiti and develop trails and infrastructure that will dramatically decrease erosion and support increased climber traffic. The Conservation Team will also partner with the City of Trussville on bouldering area plans, and travel north to Steele and Palisades to rehabilitate trails and mitigate impacts from erosion.

“By addressing these infrastructure issues, we hope to bring these top-notch climbing areas back into the national consciousness of climbers and strengthen the local economy,” says Access Fund Stewardship Director Ty Tyler.

This initiative is made possible by a considerable grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and support from SCC and other local partners who recognize the economic benefits that climbers are having on rural communities in the southeast. Together, we will work to make the region’s outstanding climbing and outdoor recreational resources accessible and sustainable.

“We are excited to partner with the Access Fund and SCC to improve, protect, and promote the wonderful climbing resources we have in the Greater Birmingham area,” says Gus Heard-Hughes, Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. “We have been impressed with the quality of these partners’ work and their commitment to collaborating with local volunteers. The four sites are special in their natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation, and efforts to preserve them for all are so important.”

The Access Fund is thrilled to partner with local climbers and members of the broader Birmingham community to restore the beauty and sustainability of these incredible recreational resources.