Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

September 2022

$30,000 in Grants Support Conservation, Protect Climbing Access

Access Fund, with support from Backcountry, recently announced $30,000 in climbing conservation grants, which will help bring 10 local climbing organization (LCO) projects across the country to life. The projects address specific and immediate needs of different climbing locales and their communities.

"Every day, countless climbers walk across bridges, belay from stances, poop in pit toilets, and park in lots funded by Access Fund climbing conservation grants," said Access Fund National Affiliate Director Jenna Winkler. "We're proud to support projects across the country that protect and conserve the land, ensure sustainable access, and build a community of climbing advocates."

Since 1991, Access Fund has awarded more than $1.4 million in Climbing Conservation Grants to support land conservation and protect climbing access. This year's grantees include:

Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC)
CCC recently purchased its fifth climber-owned property, the Maibauer Boulders. This purchase conserved 32 acres of hardwood forest and more than 100 boulder problems near Love Valley, North Carolina. To support sustainable access to this area, Access Fund is awarding a grant to improve the existing trails and build a new parking lot.

Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC)
Northern Alabama, especially the greater Huntsville and Gadsden areas, has seen a spike in the popularity of climbing. To get out in front of the potential for increased climber impact, SCC is leading the community to steward these areas with the Northern Alabama Stewardship Initiative. The project takes a twofold approach to conserving the land and protecting climbing access in northern Alabama—stewardship on existing SCC property, and new climbing access potential to spread out climber impact. Grant funding will go toward supplies and tools for trail days, staff time and updated signage.

Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association (ESIA)
This mapping and usage project digs into climber usage in the Pine Creek and Buttermilks climbing areas in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. It will also help ESIA prepare and plan for future trailwork to reroute, improve and remove existing trails. The grant money supports the Bishop climbing rangers' time spent on this project.

Friends of Cedar Mesa (FCM)
Indian Creek at Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is an international climbing destination. Many visitors—including climbers—don't know about the area's wealth of cultural resources, including rock art, artifacts and ancestral sites. FCM's Visit with Respect campaign educates climbers and other visitors about responsible recreation in and around sacred cultural sites. Grant funding will support design, printing, and installation of seven educational signs in key spots in and around Indian Creek.

Western Massachusetts Climbers' Coalition (WMCC)
Farley Ledges boasts 400 routes and boulder problems that attract climbers from throughout the region. It is the most popular crag that WMCC stewards. The crag's popularity calls for expansion and improvement of parking. Improvements include regrading, new signage, and adding an accessible parking space and guardrail. Additionally, WMCC will buy and install materials to prevent erosion on the upper slope and railroad ties and rebar for a guardrail. Volunteers will install these additions as well as a second kiosk and parking signage.

Great Plains Climbing Coalition (GPCC)
GPCC is the newest LCO in South Dakota. The organization formed to address the increase in climbers and improve climbing opportunities. Two climbing gyms and the general increased interest in climbing have driven more traffic to local crags. Instead of waiting to see how this might impact natural resources, climbers formed GPCC. The group will help maintain local climbing areas and continue to improve climbing access. The grant covers trailwork supplies and initial nonprofit formation costs: IRS filing, website development, and insurance.

Helena Climbers' Coalition (HCC)
Winter Wall in Hellgate Canyon is a popular winter climbing destination near Helena, Mont.—and this project reflects that. It will tackle a spider web of social trails, dilapidated belay pads and an eroding hillside. HCC will use its grant to rehabilitate and reinforce the climbing area. The crew will construct durable stairs and retaining walls that concentrate climber impact where new infrastructure can handle it.

New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC)
Wag bag programs are a proven way to reduce human waste at popular crags. Grant funding will support NRAC's work to install and maintain wag bag distribution stations along the main climbing access trails at Summersville Lake and Sandstonia. Both areas are among the most popular in the region, yet neither provide any way to dispose of human waste. Wag Bag stations will provide users an easy solution to pack out their waste. They ease human impacts on an area and improve the experience for everyone who visits.

Northwest California Climber's Coalition (NWCCC)
Nonprofit incorporation isn't cheap and it can be a barrier for new LCOs. NWCCC's grant will help cover the expense of incorporating as a California nonprofit. Official recognition will increase NWCCC's credibility among climbers and for climbing in northwest California. Funding will also support the purchase of camouflage bolts. NWCCC hopes these bolts will reduce visual impact and improve relations with local land managers.

Ouray Climbers Alliance (OCA)
Rotary Park is a popular crag in Ouray, Colo., that hosts sport climbs from 5.3 to 5.12+. OCA's grant will allow the group to install a shelter and educational kiosk in the park. The kiosk will provide education on low-impact best practices, safe climbing, local geology and wildlife. It will also celebrate the Ute and Pueblo people, the first inhabitants of the Ouray Valley. The shelter will protect visitors from the elements and provide a station to practice sport climbing techniques like cleaning and anchor building. Both the kiosk and shelter are designed to be wheelchair accessible.

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