02/11/2022

Meet the 2022 Conservation Teams—Coming to a Crag Near You

As the Conservation Team program was about to enter its 11th year, we reflected not only on the successes but also on how the program must adapt to fit the needs of the here and now at local crags across the country.

Access Fund launched this innovative program in 2011 to bring professional trail-building and conservation expertise to local climbing communities across the nation—in other words, boots on the ground at crags in every community. Crags everywhere are struggling to keep up with the impacts of our growing sport, and the need for on-the-ground support for local climbing organizations and land managers is growing right along with it.

This year, our CTs will focus on specific, targeted projects and community engagement opportunities in order to have the most impactful season of conservation work. Listening to the needs of our partners and the climbing community, it was clear that we needed to deepen our engagement with climbers to provide critical education and outreach that helps keep climbers up to speed with best practices in climbing areas—that’s where CT Community Connections comes in. At the same time, our crags and boulder fields are deteriorating with increased use, meaning that highly technical infrastructure is needed now, arguably more than ever—and the CT Special Projects team is ready to make it happen. Both crews will work alongside volunteers and local climbing organizations to provide a helping hand where it’s needed the most.

Meet the Crew

Loryn Posladek & Kyle Leihsing: CT Special Projects

We’re thrilled to have Loryn Posladek and Kyle Leihsing return for another season as our Special Projects team.

Undaunted by the challenges of their last two seasons in the program, like losing a significant number of their 2020 and 2021 volunteers to COVID-19 cancellations, social distancing, and changing land manager priorities, Posladek and Leihsing are back and ready to work alongside psyched volunteers from the climbing community. Prior to joining Access Fund, Posladek and Leihsing gained their passion for conservation while working for the Idaho Conservation Corps. They’ll be spending their first couple weeks in Tucson, Arizona, and Texas before heading to Arkansas and then Virginia. From there, they will head to the Northeast and back west to Lovers Leap, then on to Indian Creek to finish out the season.

Emily Hernandez & Karson Leonard: CTCommunity Connections

Hernandez and Leonard are joining the Access Fund team this year as the Conservation Team Community Connections. With deep roots in the Southeast from their home base in Florida, they are passionate about using climbing as a tool to connect people with each other, empower communities, and inspire care for the natural world. They’ll be taking up the mantle for an important part of the Conservation Team mission—connecting with and educating climbers on how to be good stewards of their local climbing areas, as well as helping local climbing organizations improve stewardship through education and outreach abilities. They’ll be at Work Week in the Creek before heading to Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Seattle. From there, they’ll head through the Midwest and finish up the season in the Southeast.

Coming to a Crag Near You

Special Projects

  • February 25-27 | Tucson, AZ, w/Climbing Association of Southern Arizona
  • March 13-27 | Dardanelle Rock, AK, w/Arkansas Climbers Coalition
  • April 1 - May 8 | Breaks, VA, w/Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition
  • May 27-29 | Ross Pond, CT
  • June 3-5 | Gunks, NY (SP) for National Trails Day
  • June 10-12 | Hanging Mountain, MA, w/Western Mass Climbers Coalition
  • June 13 - July 3 | Red River Gorge, KY, w/Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition

Community Connections

  • March 15-17 | Indian Creek, UT, for Work Week in the Creek
  • March 25-27 | Bishop, CA, for Flash Foxy Festival
  • April 5-13 | Indian Creek, UT w/Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps
  • May 19-29 | Los Angeles, CA
    • Echo Cliffs: May 21
    • Stoney Point: May 22
    • Holcomb Valley: May 28 & 29
  • June 3-5 | Yosemite, CA for National Trails Day
  • June 10-19 | Bay Area, CA, w/Bay Area Climbers Coalition
  • June 24 - July 3 | Seattle, WA, w/Washington Climbers Coalition

You can follow the Conservation Teams’ adventures on their Facebook page.