Access Fund Awards $30,000 in Climbing Conservation Grants

04/08/2019

Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded $30,635 in the first round of the 2019 Climbing Conservation Grant Program. These grants fund local climbing advocacy work across the country, including trail work, climbing area restoration, human waste management, research studies, climbing area acquisitions, grassroots organizing, and much more.

Gate Buttress area in Utah. Photo courtesy of Andrew Burr.

This year Access Fund will award up to $55,000 to local climbing communities with projects that preserve or enhance climbing access in the United States. In each funding cycle, Access Fund supporters have the opportunity to review qualifying grant projects and share their thoughts with the grants selection committee through a public rating process. Public input from the climbing community provides valuable insight to the committee. The following projects will receive grant funding during this round:

Arkansas Climbers Coalition: Wag Bag Station Initiative
After observing a substantial increase in human waste throughout climbing areas in Ozark National Forest, Arkansas Climbers Coalition (ACC) will install several wag bag stations and an educational kiosk to teach climbers about their impacts and how to properly dispose of waste. An Access Fund grant will go toward materials (wag bags, wooden posts and panels, and signage); volunteers will do the installation.

Boulder Climbing Community: Upper Dream Canyon Stewardship Project
Boulder Climbing Community (BCC) will receive funding to finish rerouting a sustainable trail at Upper Dream Canyon. The current trail touches private property and needs to be rerouted onto U.S. Forest Service land. BCC received a grant from Access Fund in 2018 to start work on the approach trail that leads to the Oceanic Wall. The end goal is to restore an old trail to create a more sustainable approach that is entirely on USFS land and install a port-a-john to be monitored by volunteers. Funds will go toward toilets, Front Range Climbing Steward labor, and project planning.

Carolina Climbers Coalition: Opening Rocky Fork State Park to Rock Climbing
Rocky Fork State Park is home to four large quartzite cliffs featuring aretes, dihedrals, and roofs—unique among the slabby granite domes common to this area. The state park supports climbing but requires the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) to complete a biological study of the two main cliffs, build a sustainable trail to the base of one cliff, and map out all potential climbing areas. Grant funds will go toward trail-building supplies and the biological study.

Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition: Connecting Climbing Areas Through Sustainable Trails
The two main climbing areas at Breaks Interstate Park—Prospectors and River trails—are connected by a half-mile section of trail that traverses into the slope of a natural drainage. The trail has eroded to the point of being unidentifiable, and the repair is too technical for volunteers to manage. Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition (CACC) received grant funds to contract a professional trail crew and create and install educational signage. After the professional trail crew is finished, a volunteer trail day will help CACC complete access trails and improve staging areas.

Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation: McConnells Mill Access and Safety Improvements
The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) works with 121 state parks and 20 forests to plan and carry out stewardship initiatives through volunteerism, education, and recreation. As part of its effort to enhance visitor safety at McConnells Mill State Park, PPFF received grant funds to improve access trails through erosion control and added steps, build fencing to protect vegetation and guide climbers, and post signage to show visitors to safer trails. These improvements will help PPFF work with the park to avoid accidents and ensure climbing access.

PDX Climbers of Color: Portland Climbers of Color Climbing Stewardship
PDX Climbers of Color works to increase diversity among climbing area stewards by helping more climbers of color make a connection to the land. The organization is collaborating with Mount Hood National Forest to organize a trail day to encourage the local community to participate in stewardship events. This Portland-based group received grant funds for materials to brush trails, install steps, replace handrails, repost signage, and close three social trails. Some money will also go toward transportation to the work site, food for volunteers, protective equipment, and educational materials.

Salt Lake Climbers Alliance: Gate Buttress Infrastructures Project - Phase 2
The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance will use grant funds to hire professional trail crews to continue stewardship work at Gate Buttress in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Phase 2 of this initiative will improve climbing access trails to some of the most popular climbing areas, including The Fin, Altered States, Lizard Head, The Thumb, and the Black Peeler. Connector trails to the Gate Buttress parking lot will be created to discourage roadside parking. Staging areas will also be improved and defined.

San Luis Valley Climbers Alliance: LCO Startup
The San Luis Valley Climbers Alliance (SLVCA) is Access Fund’s newest affiliate local climbing organization. This group works to protect and steward climbing areas in southwest Colorado, such as Penitente Canyon. SLVCA received grant funds to develop a website, incorporate and file as a 501(c)(3), and produce brochures.

South Central Pennsylvania Climbers: Governor Stable Bridge
South Central Pennsylvania Climbers (SCPC) received funding to build a bridge at Governor Stable for safer and more sustainable access to the Cave Area. Climbers are currently using wet and muddy logs to make the crossing over a marsh. SCPC and volunteers will remove the logs and install a 20-foot by 2-foot bridge to guide visitors to the Cave Area.

Southeastern Climbers Coalition: Cherokee Rock Village Climbing Stewardship Initiative
Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) is noticing heavy impacts from climbers who have used Cherokee Rock Village for the last 30 years. Trails have eroded and vegetation has disappeared. SCC received funding for a multiyear project aimed at fixing current problems and building this area up to be the first outdoor adaptive climbing area. The first year will focus on creating sustainable staging areas at the most popular climbing areas, notably Boy Scout Wall. Funds will also be used for educational signage and the SCC Stewardship Director's travel to the site.

Town of Monterey, Tennessee: Climbing Access Trail
The town of Monterey, Tennessee, received funding to build a mile of trail that will provide safe and legal access for climbers to reach the Monterey Crag. Climbers are currently parking on private property and entering the park through a crudely constructed path that is also on private property. This property was sold recently and plans for its development are imminent, essentially cutting off access to the climbing area from this direction. Grant funds will help establish a new trail from a parking lot that is being built within the park, allowing access to the climbing area without crossing private property. Grant funds will go toward a survey of the terrain, a professional trail builder, rental equipment, and other supplies.

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