Over $25,000 in Grants Awarded For Climbing Conservation

Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded $25,556.13 in the second round of the 2019 Climbing Conservation Grant Program. Through numerous grant cycles, Access Fund will award up to $55,000 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 380 local projects in 41 states.

Grant funds were awarded for a climber study in Bishop, CA. Paiute (Nüümü) and Shoshone (Newe) Territories. © Kyle Queener

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 and Rocky Mountain Field Institute: Scarface Approach Trail
Boulder Climbing Community and Rocky Mountain Field Institute will use grant funds for trail building materials and professional trail crews to restore the approach trail at arguably the most iconic climbing area in the Indian Creek area, Scarface Wall. The end result will be a durable and sustainable trail for future generations. Boulder Climbing Community’s trail crew, the Front Range Climbing Stewards, and Rocky Mountain Field Institute will use professional trail teams and volunteers to continue improving the Scarface area by constructing stone stairs and retaining walls, and closing social trails.

Carolina Climbers Coalition: Mechanized Equipment Education
Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) is working to open up a new climbing area called Pumpkintown at Table Rock State Park in South Carolina. This granite cliff offers the potential of 50+ routes in the 1-3 pitch range. The park is requiring CCC to build a machine-cut trail in order to open the Pumpkintown Wall to the public. CCC was granted funds to take a class on professional machine trail cutting to reduce the cost of contracting the work for this project and for future projects in the area.

Central Wyoming Climbers’ Alliance: Aspen Glades Vault Toilet
The Aspen Glades parking and camping area is one of the main access points to the crags of Wild Iris in Lander, Wyoming, but it lacks a sorely needed toilet facility. During summer and fall, many people are camped and parked at Aspen Glades, and on weekends it is often packed with 30 or more vehicles. There is visible human waste and toilet paper on the ground in this vicinity, which is not only unsightly but also unhealthy for visitors and the environment. The Central Wyoming Climbers’ Alliance was awarded grant funds toward a permanent vault toilet and installation materials. They hope to have it installed before the 2020 International Climbers’ Festival.

CRAG-Vermont: Bolton Dome Conservation
CRAG-VT was awarded grant funds to help pay back a portion of its Climbing Conservation Loan on Bolton Dome, a large schist crag 20 minutes from the state capital of Montpelier. CRAG-VT purchased the property in 2018 and has already subdivided it into two parcels, selling a house site to pay back the bulk of the loan. CRAG-VT is currently fundraising to make up the difference, and has received significant support from the climbing and outdoor community.

Eastern Kentucky University: The Economic Impact and Minimum Impact Awareness of Bishop
Eastern Kentucky University and Bishop Area Climbers Coalition in California have been awarded funding to conduct a study measuring both the economic impact and minimum impact awareness of the local climbing community. An important part of the rural economy, Bishop represents a significant land steward scenario. This study will add to the understanding of climbers’ economic behaviors and impact. Grant funds were awarded for proprietary files that will allow the researchers to establish how climber expenditures change the local economy. Such changes include job creation, labor income, the development of specific industries, and even local and state tax benefits.

Friends of South Cumberland: Denny Cove/Foster Falls Climber Count
Friends of South Cumberland was awarded grant funds for trail camera technology to count climbers, helping the park create a better strategic plan for climbing areas and generate accurate data to include in grant applications and projects with the state. The South Cumberland State Park is made up of nine discrete pieces of land in four counties totaling over 30,000 acres; it is the largest state park in Tennessee. Without a centralized entry point, it is currently very difficult to collect data on the total number of park visitors and to identify what type of recreational activities they engage in. Cameras will be placed in climbing-specific areas and monitored to differentiate between climbers and other users.

Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition: Economic Impact Study
The Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition has been awarded funds to assist Dr. James Maples and team from Eastern Kentucky University in updating the 2015 economic impact study on climbing in the Red River Gorge. Since the 2015 study, a number of new businesses have appeared in the Red along with an increase in the number of climbers now making regular trips to the region. These changes support updating earlier estimates of $3.6- $3.8 million in climber expenditures to illustrate changes in mean expenditures and visitation patterns. Updating the 2015 study also supports the RRGCC’s work in Kentucky during a time of change in the state’s approach to public lands.

Rumney Climbers’ Association: Rumney Wag Bag Program
Rumney Climbers' Association has been awarded funds to stock wag bags at Rumney Rocks—New Hampshire's premier sport climbing crag—for the next three seasons. Climber visitation is on the rise at Rumney Rocks, and improperly disposed human waste is having a negative impact at the cliffs. There are no ideal locations to bury human waste at Rumney, since the trail system and crags are closely interconnected. Fostering a “pack it out” mentality by offering wag bags at three preexisting locations will help to minimize this specific user issue.

Southeastern Climbers Coalition: Southeast Climbing Resource Inventory
Southeastern Climbers Coalition was awarded grant funds to assist with a Southeast Climbing Resource Inventory. The goal of this inventory is to collect data to assess existing resources at climbing areas in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Data points will include climbing resources, such as facilities, trails, and staging areas; natural resources, such as flora and fauna, water, and soil; policies that affect climbing and recreational access; land manager relations; cultural resources, such as archeological and indigenous histories; and social resources, such as climber numbers, values, and patterns. This information will provide a comprehensive assessment of the climbing environment that can be repeated in subsequent years and analyzed to understand the scale of impacts relative to other climbing areas in the region.