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Earlier this month, Access Fund, with the generous support of Backcountry, announced $30,000 in climbing conservation grants. These grants will help bring ten local climbing organization (LCO) projects around the country to life—addressing specific and immediate needs of different crags and 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,” says 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.”

Access Fund has awarded more than $1.4 million in Climbing Conservation Grants to support land conservation and protect climbing access since 1991.

This year’s grantees include:

1. Carolina Climbers Coalition: Maibauer Boulders Parking Lot

Bouldering at the Maibauer Boulders. Ancestral Lands of Keyauwee, Cheraw, Catawba, and Yesan (Tutelo).

The Carolina Climbers Coalition 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.

2. Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association: Pine Creek Climbing Impact Mapping and Data Collection

Pine Creek Canyon. Ancestral lands of Northern Paiute, Western Shoshone, Eastern Mono/Monache.

This mapping and usage project digs into climber usage in the Pine Creek and Buttermilks climbing areas. It will also help the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association 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.

3. Friends of Cedar Mesa: Visit With Respect at Indian Creek Climbing Area

Indian creek 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. Friends of Cedar Mesa’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.

4. Great Plains Climbing Coalition: Start Up

Bouldering in Blue Mounds State Park, Minnesota. Ancestral lands of Očhéthi Šakówiŋ and Yankton. (Photo: Ryan Schaefer)

The Great Plains Climbing Coalition (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. Our grant covers trailwork supplies and initial nonprofit formation costs: IRS filing, website development, and insurance.

5. Helena Climbers Coalition: Hellgate Canyon Winter Wall Improvements

We’re proud to support Helena Climbers Coalition (HCC) crag restoration project at Winter Wall in Hellgate Canyon. The area is a popular winter climbing destination near Helena, Montana—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.

6. New River Alliance of Climbers: Summersville Lake & Sandstonia Wag Bag Program

Future wag bag station site at a trailhead in New River Gorge, West Virginia. Ancestral lands of S’atsoyaha, Tutelo and Moneton.

Wag bag programs are a proven way to reduce human waste at popular crags. Grant funding will support the New River Alliance of Climbers’ 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.

7. Northwest California Climbers Coalition: Crag Visual Impact Reduction and Incorporation Startup

Nonprofit incorporation isn’t cheap and it can be a barrier for new LCOs. The Northwest California Climbers Coalition (NWCCC) 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.

8. Ouray Climbers Alliance: City of Ouray Rotary Park Kiosk

Climbing in Rotary Park, Ouray, Colorado. Ancestral lands of Diné Bikéyah, Pueblos, and Ute.

Rotary Park is a popular crag in Ouray that hosts sport climbs from 5.3 to 5.12+. The Ouray Climbers Alliance 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.

9. Southeastern Climbers Coalition: Northern Alabama Stewardship Initiative

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, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) is leading the community to steward these areas with the Northern Alabama Stewardship Initiative. The project takes a two-fold 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.

10. Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition: Farley Parking Lot Project

Farley Ledges boasts 400 routes and boulder problems that attract climbers from throughout the region. It is the most popular crag that the Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition stewards. The crag’s popularity calls for expansion and improvement of the 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.

Access Fund is the national organization that leads and inspires the climbing community toward sustainable access and conservation of the climbing environment. With nearly 25,000 members nationwide, we inspire and serve the entire climbing community by protecting and conserving the land, fighting for sustainable access, and building a community of inspired advocates. For more information, visit accessfund.org.



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