2022 Advocacy Conference

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
Bryan Miller

Thank you to everyone who met us in Chattanooga on November 11 and 12, 2022!

Every year, Access Fund brings together luminaries from the climbing advocacy community to lead workshops, sit on panels, and conduct field visits in an educational, inclusive, and laid-back learning environment. This year, we teamed up with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition to put together a program focused on the future of conserving and protecting our climbing areas.

Photo © Caleb Timmerman


Check out the presentations and links to resources below. To get connected to a speaker, email [email protected].

Friday, November 11

Protecting Cultural Resources: This session focused on educating our communities to recognize and protect cultural resources at climbing areas.

Moderator:

  • Aaron Mike, Native Lands Regional Coordinator, Access Fund

Speakers:

  • Morgan Smith PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Department of Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
  • Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Access Fund & Founder, Indigenous Field Guide
  • Skye Kolealani Razon-Olds, Co-Founder, Kānaka Climbers & Founder, Indigenous Field Guide & Council Woman, O’ahu Nā Ala Hele Trails Council


LCO Development: Updating How You Engage Your Community: Speakers presented new tools that LCOs can add to their marketing strategies to educate local climbers and rally support.

Moderator:

  • Andrea Hassler, Field Manager, Access Fund

Speakers:


Economic Impact of Climbing:
Attendees learned about the economic impact that visiting climbers can have in the region surrounding popular climbing areas.

Moderator:

  • Zachary Lesch-Huie, Vice President of Programs and Acquisitions, Access Fund

Speakers:

  • Andrew Bailey Ph.D., UF Foundation Associate Professor, University of Tennessee
  • Tom Lamb, Director, Hamilton County Parks
  • James Maples Ph.D., Associate Professor, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Billy Simek, Executive Director, Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition


The State of Climbing on State Lands: Speakers covered the potential challenges and unique opportunities advocates encounter when working with state land managers.

Moderator:

  • Daniel Dunn, Southeast Regional Manager, Access Fund

Speakers:


Exploring Land Manager Motivations:
This session was a deep dive discussion on patterns of land management decisions highlighted with specific examples of recent policy from across the country.

Moderator & Speaker:


Starting and Supporting Affinity Groups: Community leaders explained how to start or grow an affinity group as well as the best ways to support these community leaders.

Photo © Caleb Timmerman

Moderator:

  • Briana Mazzolini-Blanchard, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Access Fund

Speakers:

Saturday, November 12

Attendees chose between four different crags, each with their own unique challenges and success stories, to hear from the advocates who were directly involved with the work.

  • Walden's Ridge Park:
    The advocacy work at Walden’s Ridge showcases successful partnerships with other user groups and the importance of building durable and sustainable infrastructure when given the opportunity. Topics included stewardship, managing multi-user recreation, working with land trusts, partnering with local municipalities, and establishing new climbing.
    • Speakers:
      Daniel Dunn, Southeast Regional Manager, Access Fund
      Kate Hanes, Stewardship Director, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
      Tom Lamb, Director, Hamilton County Parks
      Les Warnock, President, Southern Offroad Bicycle Association - Chattanooga
      Tim Laramore, Executive Director, North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy
      Gaston Farmer, Conservation Project Manager, The Land Trust for Tennessee

  • Wauhatchie Boulders:
    By working with the Lookout Mountain Conservancy, Access Fund was able to open up access to these downtown-adjacent boulders and build sustainable landing zones and trails in partnership with SCC. Topics included working with land trusts, stewardship, grant writing, urban accessibility, and establishing new climbing.
    • Speakers:
      Ty Tyler, Stewardship Director, Access Fund
      Meagan Evans, Executive Director, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
      Holly Odell, Community Outreach Coordinator, Lookout Mountain Conservancy

  • Castle Rock:
    Castle Rock proves the power of relationship building with private landowners. Attendees heard more about how climbers engaged with the private landowner to secure access at Castle Rock. Topics included acquisitions, leases, and raptor management.
    • Speakers:
      Andrea Hassler, Stewardship Manager, Access Fund
      Caleb Timmerman, Marketing & Outreach Director, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
      Rick Huffines, Executive Director, Tennessee River Gorge Trust
      Eliot Berz, Director of Conservation and Access, Tennessee River Gorge Trust

      Photo © Caleb Timmerman

  • Denny Cove:
    Access Fund and SCC partnered with state-level agencies and land trusts to protect Denny Cove, purchasing the property and then transferring it to Cumberland State Park for permanent ownership and management. Topics included acquisition, stewardship/buildout, partnerships, state level policy, establishing new climbing, working with land trusts, and data collection/GIS.
    • Speakers:
      Zachary Lesch-Huie, Vice President of Programs and Acquisitions, Access Fund
      Matthew Gant, Co-Chair of Fixed Anchor Committee, Southeastern Climbers Coalition
      George Shinn, Park Manager 2, South Cumberland State Park


    Our Partners

    An event this big doesn't come together without a little help—or, in the case of SCC, a whole lot of help. We can't thank them enough for their dedication to helping us make this year's conference one of the best yet. In addition to SCC, our generous sponsors below pitched in to get the conference up and running: