LCO 101: Preparing for Large-Scale Stewardship Initiatives

Categories: LCO 101

LCOs everywhere are recognizing that climbing areas are in need of a real overhaul to truly achieve sustainability. So how do you take the leap from one-day Adopt a Crag events to multi-month or even multi-year stewardship initiatives?

  • Consider the entire climbing system. Where do climbers park, where do they use the restroom, how do they get to crags, how do they get off the boulders, are there other users (hikers, equestrians) who need to be accommodated, are there any species of concern, do fixed anchors need to be replaced?
  • Outline the needs and develop a plan. Start with a comprehensive map that includes trails, parking, popular crags, etc. Then put pen to paper and outline all the needs throughout the area. Think of reasonable time frames and phases in which the work can be accomplished. Prioritize the needs and document how these may be met in a proposal with a realistic budget.
  • Consider regulations and policies. If you’re working on public land, become familiar with the laws, policies, and regulations that land managers work under. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) governs this process on all federal lands, and you’ll need to provide as much information as possible in your project proposals to establish the need, prove you’ve done due diligence, and show a good concept and implementation plan. If you’re working on private land, make sure you establish a relationship with the landowner to work through project proposals and necessary permissions.
  • Find experts to get work done. The type of recreation infrastructure needed at most climbing areas is not something every volunteer or even trail crew has the expertise to produce. The Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team crews are a good place to start, and you can supplement with a dedicated group of volunteers or other professional crews or Conservation Corps.
  • Get funding. Look to leverage any and all resources. Federal, state, and local grants are great avenues, especially for well-thought-out proposals by qualified organizations tackling complex conservation issues. A local fundraising campaign within your community can also be very effective. Consider local companies that are invested in a higher quality of life for people in their community. Also, don’t forget the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Grants program as a seed source.

— Julia Geisler, Executive Director of Salt Lake Climbers Alliance

Thank you to the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance for your commitment to large-scale stewardship initiatives like the Gate Buttress Project. The video below highlights the ongoing effort and impact of this approach at Gate Buttress in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Tell Land Managers: Let Climbers Tackle Stewardship

Land managers often lack the funding and expertise to fix growing impacts. There are several bills and initiatives being drafted now that will streamline approvals for public lands, and we need your help to show land managers a groundswell of support from climbers.
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