Access Fund Provides Debt Relief for Loan Partners During COVID-19 Crisis

Access Fund is offering debt relief for all current loan partners who may be facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 crisis. There are currently five local climbing organizations (LCOs) who have active loans through the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan Program (CCLP), which provides bridge financing to purchase at-risk climbing areas.

Denny Cove in Tennessee was purchased with the help of an Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan and is currently held by Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Ancestral lands of ᎠᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East) and Chikashsha Yaki (Chickasaw). Photo courtesy of Adam Johnson.

“Offering our loan partners some relief in this difficult time is the right thing to do,” says Access Fund Executive Director Chris Winter. “The impact of COVID-19, both at-large and to Access Fund and our network of local climbing organizations, is far-reaching. If we stick together, we’ll get through this crisis, but it will take some time.”

Since its inception in 2009, the CCLP program has helped local climbing communities purchase 26 climbing areas across the country, conserving $2.8 million worth of land across 17 states. As a revolving loan fund, Access Fund loans the money out, and then after the local community repays it, it is reinvested into another threatened climbing area. The revolving nature of the fund allows Access Fund to use the same dollars to protect more climbing areas over time.

At this time, Carolina Climbers Coalition, CRAG-Vermont, Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition, Southeastern Climbers Coalition, and Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition have active loans from recent climbing area acquisitions. The CCLP Debt Relief Program will offer these loan partners:

  • No interest on outstanding loans from March through December 2020.
  • Six-month loan extensions for loans due before March 2021, when an updated fundraising plan for the remaining loan balance and property costs is provided.
  • Further relief to be considered as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.

“With the full impact of the COVID crisis still on the horizon, it’s nice to know relief is there, if needed,” says Wade Parker, vice president of Carolina Climbers Coalition, which has an active loan used to protect the Buckeye Knob and Barn Boulders.

Access Fund is also providing its network of LCOs with resources and tool kits to aid in their response to COVID-19. This includes guidance on communications, climbing area closures/management, and webinars on how to tap into federal relief funds, host virtual events, and adjust fundraising. Learn more about the Climbing Conservation Loan Program and COVID-19 Resources for Climbers.

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
© Irene Yee

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