Access Fund Secures MOU with National Park Service

Date: 6/24/2009

The Access Fund announces today that, after six years of collaborative negotiations, it has finalized and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Park Service (NPS).

The newly signed MOU frames a cooperative relationship between the climbing community and the National Park Service. It outlines the common interests that the parties share—such as conservation and planning—as well as how they will work together to reach common goals.

The greatest value of this MOU will be realized by the Access Fund’s more than 70 affiliated local climbing organizations, which can leverage the agreement to initiate relationships with managers of the national parks in their areas. The agreement will make it easier for climbers to develop mutually beneficial relationships with NPS officials regarding climbing management and stewardship issues. The MOU also will help these organizations express their interests when management planning is undertaken on NPS lands that contain climbing resources.

The Access Fund has been building a case for the MOU since early 2003. An extensive support package was presented to the National Park Service in September 2005, outlining the contributions that the Access Fund and local climbers have made to NPS lands—such as collaborating on conservation events, participating in management planning, granting funds for trail improvements, and installing bear boxes. This package showed NPS officials that climbers are a cooperative and responsible user group.

The Access Fund was also able to show a long history of constructive solution-building between climbers and National Park Service officials, illustrated through successful climbing management in areas like Yosemite National Park in California, Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska, New River Gorge National River in West Virginia, and Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, to name a few.

Numerous NPS officials provided endorsements for the Access Fund in support of the MOU, including the previous superintendent of Yosemite National Park, Michael Tollefson. Tollefson endorsed the MOU “based on years of collaboration … that has directly benefitted park operations and the visitor experience, as well as work that less directly, but importantly, supports park management strategic direction. We enjoy a direct line of cooperative and thoughtful conversation with [Access Fund staff], and believe that this connection allows forward-thinking solutions.”

The MOU is available for review and download at www.accessfund.org/mous.