Access Fund to Refinance Farley Ledge Loan, Saving Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition Thousands

Date: 12/14/2009

The Access Fund announced today that it will provide Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition with short-term financing to pay off an existing $30,000 bank loan on 7 acres of land at the base of Farley Ledge in Erving, Massachusetts.

The funds will be supplied by the new Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, a revolving loan program that provides local climbing organizations with the funds and expertise needed to act quickly to save threatened climbing areas. The Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition has paid down 90 percent of the original $300,000 bank loan. By refinancing the remainder of the loan under the Access Fund’s new program, the Coalition will save approximately $3,500 in interest and fees that can be invested in other projects that benefit the Massachusetts climbing community.

Farley Ledge contains arguably the best climbing in southern New England between Rumney, New Hampshire and the Gunks in eastern New York. In 2007, the Coalition purchased the undeveloped tract at the base of the cliff to protect the access point and allow for a parking area. The Access Fund provided a $10,000 grant to assist with the original purchase.

Prior to the purchase, the parking and trail access for Farley Ledge and the adjacent Metacomet-Monadnock Trail lay across a patchwork of private land parcels at the end of a dense residential neighborhood. Access was constantly threatened by a combination of overuse and lack of adequate public parking, which lead to neighborhood concerns. Farley was closed four times over the last twenty years due to these concerns.

The successful acquisition of this property solidified climbing access by allowing for the creation of a sustainable parking area and a permanent trailhead. The Coalition spearheaded the construction of a new 16-car parking lot, access trail, and kiosk in the fall of 2008, which is now enjoyed by the public.

The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition has a long history of protection and preservation at Farley Ledge, funding biological surveys, writing an award winning climbing management plan, and hosting annual Access Fund Adopt-a-Crag stewardship events. “We are excited to give WMCC a new level of support in this stage of conservation at Farley Ledge,” says Access Fund Access Director Joe Sambataro.

The refinance is expected to close by December of this year. The Coalition has an aggressive fundraising plan in place to pay back the loan, allowing the Access Fund to invest in other projects. Please stay tuned to the Coalition for detailed fundraising plans and opportunities to give your support. For more information, contact Jeff Squire at [email protected] or Joe Sambataro at [email protected]. Visit www.westernmacc.com for new updates.