$30,000 in Grants Awarded For Climbing Conservation

Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded more than $30,000 in the first round of the 2020 Climbing Conservation Grant Program to support 12 worthy projects across the country. Access Fund will award up to $60,000 this year to local climbing communities with projects that preserve or enhance climbing access in the United States. Since 1991, Access Fund has awarded over $1.2 million for 392 local projects in 41 states.

Grant funding was awarded to restore trails and belay areas at Lover's Leap, CA, ancestral lands of the Central Sierra Miwok and Washoe.

The Access Fund Climbing Conservation Grant Program puts membership dollars to work supporting local climbing communities across the country. In each funding cycle, Access Fund supporters have the opportunity to review qualifying grant projects and share their thoughts with the grants selection committee through a public rating process. Public input from the climbing community provides valuable insight to the committee. The following projects have been awarded Access Fund grant funding.

Boulder Climbing Community: Upper Dream Canyon Oceanic Trail Restoration
Boulder Climbing Community (BCC) was awarded a grant to fund the Front Range Climbing Stewards, a professional trail crew, to continue its efforts to improve trails at Upper Dream Canyon, located 20 minutes from Boulder, Colorado. Located on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land, this heavily visited climbing area is home to a wealth of routes on various walls within a compact area. BCC and the USFS will continue to reroute one of the main access trails (Oceanic Wall) away from the riparian zone and private property, creating a sustainable new trail that fits into the larger plan management of this area.

Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento: HWY 50 Revival for Lover’s Leap
Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento (CRAGS) was awarded funding to hire professional trail crews and purchase the tools needed to restore Lover’s Leap, an iconic climbing destination in Northern California. Named the HWY 50 Revival, this project aims to bring this important piece of climbing history into the future. As climbing has grown in popularity, increased use has left its mark on Lover’s Leap. CRAGS will work to close redundant access paths, provide stabilization improvements to official trails, harden climbing staging areas, assist with vital maintenance of the Slippery Ford Trail, and provide directional and educational signs throughout the entire area.

Giovanna Bishop, Eastern Washington University: Impact of Climbing on Lichen and Bryophyte in the West
Giovanna Bishop, researcher at Eastern Washington University, was awarded funding to conduct a study on the impact of climbing on lichen and bryophyte. Lichens and bryophytes are the most biodiverse groups living on cliffs in many biomes, making it essential to investigate the impact of climbing on cliff systems and develop conservation strategies. In this study, five established climbing areas around Spokane, Washington, will be compared to several unclimbed cliffs. A conservation strategy will be created, with the cooperation of the Bower Climbing Coalition, Spokane County, and Fisk State Park to better manage the impacts of climbing on lichens and bryophytes. Local climbers will be involved to help conduct field work, enabling those who facilitate climbing management to better understand the organisms living on cliffs.

Harvard Mountaineering Club: Harvard Cabin Privy Conversion
Harvard Mountaineering Club was awarded funding to convert an aging pit toilet to a more sustainable moldering system at the Harvard Cabin at the mouth of Huntington Ravine in New Hampshire, a classic proving ground for alpine pursuits. Since its construction in 1962, the cabin has served as a unique public-use refuge for alpine and ice climbers. The existing toilet was constructed nearly 20 years ago, and the structure and foundation are deteriorating. Waste is currently flown out in barrels by helicopter, disrupting the forest environment through noise and emissions. A moldering system will allow waste to decompose over the course of multiple years, after which the resulting humus will be dispersed locally, decreasing impact on land, water, and airborne resources.

Mohonk Preserve: Low-Impact Climbing Campaign
New York’s Mohonk Preserve was awarded funding to restore damaged top-out areas of popular climbing routes and launch a public-awareness campaign focused on low-impact climbing. In recent years, Mohonk Preserve’s rangers have documented significant increases in climbing activity, which they attribute to the recent growth of outdoor climbing. Although they welcome and encourage this growth in climbing, they recognize that it has also resulted in increased climbing accidents and environmental damage. The rangers will partner with the Gunks Climbers’ Coalition to give presentations targeted to climbers, share information on social media and other online forums, and lead volunteer workdays at top-off areas. The presentations will be given on-site and at climbing gyms or retail outfitter stores in the Tri-State Area.

New Mexico Climbers Resource and Advocacy Group: Kit Canyon Project
New Mexico Climbers Resource and Advocacy Group was awarded funding to help address the growing impact of vehicles at popular bouldering areas in Kiowa National Grassland (KNG) near Roy, New Mexico. The popularity of bouldering at KNG has grown rapidly for the past 10 years, in an area with a lifetime’s potential for climbing. The proposed Kit Canyon Project would eliminate vehicular impacts by requiring all vehicles to park at the proposed gravel lot within the NM 120 right-of-way. All climbing access would be concentrated onto one trail with a stile crossing over a barbed-wire fence. A kiosk at the parking area will provide information on the regulations for N.M. State Land Office lands and best practices for limiting impacts from climbing. Grant funds will be used to construct a parking lot, driveway, and culvert per N.M. Department of Transportation standards.

Southeastern Climbers Coalition: Grassroots Waste Disposal Program
Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) was awarded funding to purchase human waste disposal bags to distribute to climbers for free. As climber visitation increases across the Southeast, large concentrations of cat holes, as well as exposed waste, have the potential to significantly impact the health and enjoyment of climbing areas in the region. While SCC does advocate for permanent facilities throughout the region, widespread proliferation of human droppings requires a grassroots approach to re-train climbers on best practices for disposing of human waste. Putting wag bags in the hands of climbers means they are prepared to pack out waste from climbing areas. SCC will also hand out small biodegradable bags for microtrash.

Southwest Oregon Climbers’ Coalition: Honeycombs Toilet Development
Southwest Oregon Climbers’ Coalition (SWOCC) was awarded funding to purchase materials for a minimally invasive vault toilet for the Honeycombs climbing area in Oregon, which has experienced an increasing number of visitors in the past two years. The toilet will be placed in close proximity to the highest-use climbing crags, encouraging proper waste disposal and reducing climbers’ impacts as the popularity of this area continues to grow. For safety reasons, the toilet will be installed after a future timber harvest.

The Rock Domain: Parking Lot Improvements
The Rock Domain, a privately owned Kentucky climbing area that is open to the public, was awarded funding for parking lot improvements to mitigate erosion and enhance climber access. The area is home to more than 300 bolted routes and over 10 miles of trail for climber use. Runoff has washed out some sections of the parking area, leading to large ruts across the lot as well as some soft sand deposits. Grant money will be used primarily for gravel, which will improve climber access and mitigate erosion. Larger stones will also be installed around the perimeter of the parking area to control erosion in susceptible areas.

Valdez Adventure Alliance: Berry Trail Construction
Valdez Adventure Alliance was awarded funding to hire professional trail crews to construct a trail to safely and sustainably connect two climbing areas with easy access to bathrooms. The area around Valdez, Alaska, has many incredible climbing areas. Most are simply discovered and shared by the climbing community. Because of this, most areas have never been developed in ways that would maximize and preserve climbing for the enjoyment of current and future recreationists. Such is the case with Raspberry Rock and Blueberry Block. Grant funds will be used to cut a trail around Thompson Lake to connect the two areas for safety and easy access to bathrooms.

Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition: Hanging Mountain Acquisition
Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition (WMCC) was awarded funding to help pay back its loan on Hanging Mountain, allowing them to continue to invest in appropriate infrastructure for climbers. In 2019, WMCC purchased Hanging Mountain, a raw and undeveloped property in the Berkshire Mountains that contains 10 crags up to 250 feet. Climbers had been aware of the potential climbing at Hanging Mountain, but the property was privately held and previously inaccessible as a climbing site. WMCC purchased the 14-acre parcel for approximately $120,000, with the assistance of the Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF) in Connecticut.

William Kilgore: Replacing Rumney Rocks Signs
William Kilgore, a local volunteer, was awarded grant funding for a trail sign project at Rumney Rocks in New Hampshire. As part of the Restore Rumney conservation effort, he will create and install signs to direct visitors to climbing areas. Current signs are damaged, outdated, or missing. New signs will help prevent erosion by keeping visitors on designated trails. The U.S. Forest Service has approved the installation, as well as the design and layout. The signs will be installed in the spring of 2020.

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