Meet Your Regional Access Fund Staff

03/14/2018

The first and best line of defense for a local issue is almost always the local climbers who are familiar with the area and the issues. That’s why Access Fund has been slowing expanding our regional presence, hiring staff in key regions to support all of the great work being done by local climbing organizations (LCOs) to protect and expand climbing opportunities. To make this regionalization strategy feasible, nearly all of our full-time regional staff wear a second hat, bringing another layer of expertise to our national programs. Get to know our regional staffers below!

Zachary Lesch-Huie, Southeast Regional Director

Location: Chattanooga, TN

Zachary works with local climbing organizations and advocates to protect, steward, and expand climbing access (on both private and public lands) throughout the Southeast. He is currently working with the US Forest Service as they revise their management plan for Nantahala & Pisgah National Forest, advocating for sound climbing management policy at places like Linville Gorge and Looking Glass.

Second Hat: National Affiliate Director
Zachary also works to support, empower, and grow our network of over 100 local climbing organizations across the country to address local issues.

2018 Southeast Region Priorities

  • Acquire two new bouldering areas north of Chattanooga, TN.
  • Guide USFS on climbing management in Nantahala & Pisgah National Forest.
  • Establish baseline economic impact of climbing in the New River Gorge.
  • Bring local climbing organizations from across the country togetherl to share best practices around climbing management, stewardship, fixed anchor replacement.
  • Support all the great work the LCOs are doing.

Joe Sambataro, Northwest Regional Director

Location: Edmonds, WA

Joe works with land managers, local climbing organizations, and non-profit partners to steward and protect climbing areas across the Northwest. Last year, Joe helped launch the Washington Climbing Conservation Initiative with Washington Climbers Coalition, worked with Madrone Wall Preservation Committee to re-open Madrone Wall after a 20-year closure, and partnered with Washington State Parks to complete climbing management plans at Index Town Walls and Beacon Rock.

Second Hat: Access Director
As Access Director, Joe runs Access Fund’s Climbing Conservation Loan Program, helping local advocates across the country to purchase and protect privately owned climbing areas. He also manages the Risk Management and Landowner Support program, assisting landowners and LCOs with leases, management agreements, and insurance.

2018 Northeast Region Priorities

  • Fundraise and launch the Liberty Bell Conservation Initiative to begin trail work at Washington Pass.
  • Complete a successful second year of the Washington Climbing Conservation Initiative at Mazama, Index, Goldbar Boulders, and Tieton.
  • Support stewardship initiatives and climbing access projects with LCOs and land managers.
  • Promote and protect public land conservation and recreation with conservation partners in the Northwest.

Ty Tyler, Southwest Regional Director

Location: Anywhere, USA (homebase Tucson)

Ty spends much of the year traveling in his van across the US, but considers the Southwest region his home and continues to drive projects and partnerships there. Last year, Ty launched the large-scale Joe's Valley Climbing Conservation Initiative, a multi-phase conservation project to ensure Joe's Valley climbing will be available and sustainable for years to come.

Second Hat: Stewardship Director
In addition to his work in the Southwest, Ty manages Access Fund’s stewardship and conservation program, managing the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team fleet and deploying crews to help build sustainable climbing areas across the nation.

2018 Southwest Region Priorities

  • Improve access paths throughout Red Rock Canyon.
  • Work with the BLM to improve climber access to the 45+ climbing walls in Indian Creek.
  • Improve land manager relationships throughout New Mexico.
  • Support all the great work the LCOs are doing.

Mike Morin, Northeast Regional Director

Location: North Conway, NH

Mike is a recent addition to our regional team, relocating back to the Northeast last year after retiring from 3 years on the road with the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team. Mike is working to develop partnerships with land managers and local climbing organization to help protect, steward, and expand climbing access throughout the Northeast. Last year, Mike worked to re-open Band M Ledge in Madison, New Hampshire after a 6 year closure.

Second Hat: Sustainable Fixed Anchors
In addition to MIke’s work in the Northeast, he also leads our efforts to address the issue of aging fixed anchors, providing support to LCOs and volunteers across the country.

2018 Northeast Region Priorities

  • Work with Adirondack Climbers Coalition and New York Department of Environmental Conservation to begin the process of establishing a reasonable fixed anchor policy in Adirondack Park.
  • Tackle erosion issues at Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire, alongside the Access Fund-Jeep Conservation Team.
  • Rally New Jersey advocates to establish a new local climbing organization and begin opening closed climbing resources in the state.
  • Work with Gunks Climbers Coalition and New York State Parks to re-open climbing areas within Minnewaska State Park and Preserve.
  • Expand climbing opportunities on both public and private lands in Pennsylvania.
  • Support all the great work the LCOs are doing.

Katie Goodwin, California Regional Director

Location: Sonora, California

Katie works with land managers, private landowners, and local climbing organizations to protect and expand climbing opportunities through the state of California. Last year, she worked closely with Inyo National Forest on regional planning and installation of port-o-potties at Pine Creek for the 2018 climbing season, as well as interpretive signs to help visiting climbers understand responsible outdoor climbing ethics in the region.

Second Hat: Public Lands Associate
In addition to covering California, Katie also acts as Access Fund’s Public Lands Associate, working with public land managers and climbers across the country to protect and conserve public lands and find the balance of climbing access and resource protection.

2018 California Priorities

  • Work to establish a California state office of recreation.
  • Re-open Big Rock in southern California to climbing.
  • Continue working to re-open Williamson Rock in southern California.
  • Expand stewardship and access work in Bishop, Tahoe Basin, and southern California.
  • Continue working on several private land access projects.
  • Support all the great work the LCOs are doing.

Brian Tickle, Texas Regional Director

Location: Austin, TX

Brian is the newest addition to our regional team and is working to protect and expand climbing opportunities on both private and public lands in Texas. Brian has been working with local climbing organizations, land managers, and lawmakers to preserve access at the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Miller Springs, Bull Creek District Park, and Hueco Tanks. He is currently working with the owners of Continental Ranch to expand access to nearly 17 miles of cliffline. He is also working with the Texas Climbers Coalition to permanently acquire and protect Medicine Wall in San Antonio.

2018 Texas Priorities

  • Pursue legislation that would add rock climbing to the Texas recreational use statute, providing private landowners with a layer of liability protection when opening their land to climbing.
  • Work to establish an outdoor recreation industry office in Texas.
  • Establish an annual outdoor climbing festival at a local ranch with untapped climbing resources.
  • Support legislation that will fully fund the operations of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
  • Support all the great work the LCOs are doing.

Annabelle McClure & Andrea Hassler, Conservation Team National Crew

Location: Anywhere, USA

Annabelle and Andrea have returned for their second year as the Conservation Team National crew, traveling the country for 10 months a year doing stewardship work and engaging the climbing community on ways to get involved and give back.

2018 Tour Highlights

  • Tucson, AZ
  • Dixon Lake, CA
  • Red Rock Canyon, NV
  • Indian Creek, UT
  • Smith Rock, OR
  • Mazama, WA
  • Duluth, MN
  • New Hampshire
  • Breaks Interstate Park, VA
  • Linville Gorge, NC
  • Foster Falls, TN
  • Denny Cove, TN

Kate Johnson & Chris Wu, Conservation Team East Crew

Location: East Side, USA

Kate and Chris are back for their second season as the Conservation Team East crew, focused on building sustainable climbing areas east of the Mississippi. This crew tackles large-scale, highly complex projects that span multiple weeks, and sometimes months.

2018 Tour Highlights

  • Denny Cove, TN
  • Old Wauhatchie Boulders, TN
  • Roadside Crag, KY
  • Moss Rock Preserve, AL
  • Butchers Branch, WV
  • Cathedral Ledge, NH

Carolyn Prescott & Allen Jircik, Conservation Team West Crew

Location: West Side, USA

Carolyn and Allen have joined as our new Conservation Team West crew, focused on building sustainable climbing areas west of the Mississippi. This crew also tackles large-scale, highly complex projects that span multiple weeks, and sometimes months.

2018 Tour Highlights

  • Joe's Valley, UT
  • Gate Buttress, UT
  • Black Wall, CA
  • Liberty Bell Group, WA

Curt Shannon, Arizona Policy Analyst

Location: Gold Canyon, AZ

Curt is mainly focused on fighting to save the Oak Flat and Queen Creek climbing areas from mining interests. Last year, during the ongoing NEPA scoping process, Curt focused on submitting extensive comments that highlighted the environmental and recreational impacts of the proposed mine.

2018 Arizona Priorities

  • Continue to oppose mining efforts at Oak Flat.
  • Support Access Fund’s policy program and efforts to keep public lands in public hands.
  • Work with local climbing organizations on policy issues related to climbing in Arizona.