Access Fund Announces First Round Grant Recipients

posted by dpm on 04/16/2013


The Access Fund has announced their first round grant recipients for 2013. Of special interest to Southeast climbers like myself are two grants awarded to the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition. In the case of the RRGCC, the grant will help with the purchase of a 309 acre parcel of undeveloped cliff that could yield over 250 new routes. As the RRGCC says, "If we own it, they can't close it." Rumor from the Red River Gorge is that this cliff is as good as all the others, which is really good.  Regarding the SCC grant, the money will go toward the first step in acquiring the land which is to find out how much it's worth before making an offer.

These cases, including a third grant awarded toward acquiring a portion of California's Castle Crags, are an example of the Access Fund working with local climbing organizations to actually purchase property and preserve it for guaranteed future use by climbers. The other grants awarded are just as worthy including a Gym to Crag Transition program for 'city folk' heading to the Gunks of New York, and a continuation of the successful human waste management system in place in the Tetons and San Juan Mountains.   


Official Press Release:

April 11, 2013. Boulder, CO –The Access Fund, the national advocacy organization that keeps US climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment, is pleased to announce that it has awarded over $23,500 in this first round of the 2013 Climbing Preservation Grants Program. Each year, the Access Fund awards up to $40,000 in grant money to local climbing communities with worthy projects that preserve or enhance climbing access. The Access Fund Climbing Preservation Grants Program is an example of membership dollars at work in local climbing communities across the country. Again this round, Access Fund members got the opportunity to review qualifying grant projects and rate them, providing valuable input to our grant selection committee as to which projects they want their contributions to support. We are pleased to announce funding for the following worthy projects.

Gunks Climbers Coalition - Gym to Crag Transition Program
The Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC) was awarded a grant for a program that will help new climbers make the transition to responsible outdoor climbing. The rock climbing and bouldering areas around New Paltz, New York see increasing traffic and climber impacts every year as first-time climbers from gyms in the New York metro area go there to climb outside for the first time. Many of these climbers are not yet familiar with established outdoor ethics or how to reduce and minimize their impact. GCC’s educational program will include videos, presentations, flyers, and incentives for active participation to help address this problem and provide a model for climbing communities around the country. The goal is to get to the root of this problem by educating climbers about best climbing and bouldering practices before they go outside for their first time.

Jenny Lake Rangers - Grand Tetons Human Waste Management
Jenny Lake Rangers of Grand Teton National Park was awarded a grant to help manage human waste in this world-class alpine climbing destination. In 2001, Restop bags were introduced to overnight campers as a voluntary alternative to the fly-out bucket system of human waste management on the Lower Saddle. In 2002, the buckets were removed and human waste pack-out became mandatory for all visitors on the Saddle, with bags provided free of charge and stocked by volunteers and rangers. This grant request seeks funding to cover the cost of the Restop bags. Compliance has continued at nearly 100% since 2003, which affirms the climbing community’s environmental commitment.

Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition - Red River Gorge Acquisition
The Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRGCC) was awarded a grant to help acquire 309 acres of undeveloped cliff line in the southern region of the Red River Gorge. The land includes over 18 individual cliffs and more than 250 potential new routes. This conservation project secured this climbing resource before it was threatened by closure, as well as increased the amount of available climbing in the region to help alleviate overcrowding on other privately owned nature preserves.

San Juan Mountains Association - Weminuche Wilderness Restop Program
San Juan Mountains Association and their partners at San Juan National Forest were awarded a grant to purchase Restop bags to distribute at the Needle Creek Trailhead in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado. The trailhead is the gateway to three fourteeners and a handful of technical climbs. Volunteer Wilderness Information Specialists distribute the Restop bags and educate visitors about the importance of packing out human waste in order to protect this high-use alpine area. In addition, the program provides additional information and seeks feedback through comment cards to ensure the program’s long term effectiveness.

Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) - Southern Cumberland Appraisal
Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) was awarded a grant for the appraisal of a future land acquisition project. They are working with Conservation Fund and Land Trust for Tennessee (LTTN) to conserve a 670 acre cove in the Fiery Gizzard area of Tennessee’s Southern Cumberland region that hosts an extensive sandstone cliff line. Completion of this project would effectively protect 200 high quality routes at a range of grades, and preserve one of the largest climbing areas in the Deep South. The first step in acquiring the property is an appraisal, which SCC and LTTN share this cost 50/50. The Access Fund grant would go towards SCC's portion.

Wilderness Land Trust - Castle Crags Acquisition
The Wilderness Land Trust was awarded a grant to acquire 1,250 acres in the northern reaches of Castle Crags Wilderness near Mt. Shasta, California. The acquisition will provide public access to moderate multi-pitch granite, winter ice climbing, and backcountry skiing. The acquisition will also protect rare wildlife and plant habitat, cultural resources, and the Sacramento River and Delta watershed, which provides clean water for citizens of California. Climber support of this project contributes to a collaborative effort to protect the Klamath-Siskiyou Region and the Castle Crags Wilderness. Acquisition of these parcels are a high priority, since this is a time-sensitive opportunity to prevent future logging and provide improved public access.'

About the Access Fund
Since 1991, the Access Fund has been the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. The Access Fund supports and represents over 2.3 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Five core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, and education. For more information visit www.accessfund.org.


The Access Fund has also put together a great video series that shows some of the work they've done around the country. Click the images below to watch the videos about how the Access Fund worked for climbers at Jailhouse, California; Rumbling Bald, North Carolina; and Red Rock, Nevada. 

Click the image for the Jailhouse, California video.

Click the image for the Rumbling Bald, North Carolina video.

Click the image for the Red Rock, Nevada video.