Access Fund Gathers Land Managers and Climbers in Vegas

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11/4/10 – On October 22 through 24, the Access Fund, the national non-profit advocacy group that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment, brought federal land managers and field-level personnel who are involved in recreation policy together to share best practices in climbing management.

More than 80 land managers and climbers from around the United States gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Access Fund–hosted National Climbing Management Summit. Federal land managers from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service outlined their management practices at climbing areas such as Yosemite, Red Rocks, the Black Canyon, Indian Creek, Denali National Park, and White Mountains National Forest. Together with climbers, the group tackled complicated climbing management issues related to cultural resources, fixed anchors, sensitive species, and wilderness designations.

With land management offices starved for resources, both human and financial, the easiest way to deal with management challenges like climbing is often to restrict access or just close the area down. This summit was meant to provide land managers with proven tactics to address common climbing management issues, bring consistency to policy and enforcement, and impose fewer unnecessary climbing restrictions.

“There are a lot of misconceptions out there that are tied to climbing issues,” says Access Fund Policy Director Jason Keith. “With better communication, land managers will be more prepared to understand and meet climbing management challenges and be less reactive. Our hope was to provide them with a network of people to go to for solutions to climbing issues they might be experiencing.” The group spent a day in the field at Red Rocks, observing climbers. The rest of the conference was spent on presentations and discussions related to climbing techniques, management best practices, and how climbers interact with the surrounding environment.

The Access Fund is working with its agency partners to create an online information center that will provide contact information for planning experts, model management plans, and other planning resources that will assist with solving future climbing policy challenges.

About the Access Fund: Since 1991, the Access Fund has been the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. The Access Fund supports and represents over 2.3 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Five core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, and education. For more information visit www.accessfund.org.