Access Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded more than $25,000 in Climbing Conservation Grants to support 10 worthy projects across the country—including trail work, parking areas, educational signage, waste management, and graffiti removal. Access Fund will award up to $60,000 in total this year to support local climbing communities with projects that preserve or enhance climbing in the United States. Since 1991, Access Fund has awarded more than $1.3 million for 411 local projects in 42 states.
Arkansas Climber’s Coalition: Waste Management Project
Arkansas Climber’s Coalition (ARCC) was awarded funding to support waste management at high-traffic crags in the state. The sheer number of climbers visiting Arkansas crags has put an unmanageable strain on the land’s natural ability to process human waste. In 2019, ARCC partnered with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on a waste management program that placed three wag-bag stations across the state at Cowell/Fountain Red, Cave Creek, and Mount Magazine State Park. This year, ARCC will use the grant funding to expand the program to three additional areas: Rock Creek, Hudson Mountain, and Candy Mountain. ARCC also plans to increase educational outreach to expand climber’s knowledge of proper disposal of human waste at high-traffic crags.
Boulder Climbing Community: Avalon Climbing Access Trail
The Boulder Climbing Community (BCC) was awarded funding for a large-scale climbing access trail project, executed by the Front Range Climbing Stewards, at one of the most popular crags in the Boulder area. Part of the Avalon approach trail is located on soil and is extremely steep, averaging a 40% slope. It is eroding quickly due to heavy climber traffic and natural events such as rain and snowmelt. The base of the cliff and surrounding areas are also becoming increasingly more eroded due to climbers going off trail to navigate around each other and to store gear. BCC will split the project into two phases: Phase 1 will take place during the 2021 trail season and will focus on the approach and base area at the Middle Wall; Phase 2 will take place during the 2022 trail season and will focus on rerouting the main approach trail through the talus field.
Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition: Parking Area and Kiosk at Bens Branch
The Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition was awarded grant funding to build a four-car parking area and a kiosk with access, route, trail, and other local information at Bens Branch in Virginia. Right now, there is no adequate place for climbers to park when visiting the crag, resulting in dangerous and unsustainable parking on the shoulder of a steep gravel road. Climbers’ cars often block service trucks navigating to and from city water supply and utility lines. The climbing area is open with city permission, but parking is a key, final piece to ensure sustainable access to the area.
Friends of Red Rock Canyon: Graffiti Removal
Friends of Red Rock Canyon were awarded grant funding to host 6-10 graffiti removal events at Calico Basin, First Creek, Ice Box Canyon, and Blue Diamond Mesa at Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon (RRC). The climbing and recreation opportunities in RRC have been increasing in popularity, making the area an international destination. In 2020, RRC had a record 3.2 million visitors, and this increased visitation has resulted in more graffiti near popular trails that lead to bouldering, scrambling, and climbing areas.
Gunks Climbers Coalition: Millbrook Mountain Parking Lot
Gunks Climbers Coalition (GCC) was awarded grant funding to build an environmentally sustainable 8-10 car gravel parking lot and access driveway to open access to 70+ new trad routes at the pristine Millbrook Mountain. With help from Access Fund, the GCC purchased this new climbing area at Millbrook—known as Ant Lion Crag—during the fall of 2020. Currently, the 40-minute approach to this new crag begins off a quiet residential street in a wooded area where street parking is prohibited. The new parking lot will prevent climbers from illegally parking on neighboring land and damaging the landscape.
Castle Country Climbers Alliance: Startup
The new Castle Country Climbers Alliance was awarded grant funding for local climbing organization startup costs, including 501c3 filing fees, liability insurance, and logo design. The mayor of Helper, Utah—who is supportive of climbing—seeks to organize local volunteers and establish this new local climbing organization to improve climbing opportunities in Carbon County, including the Spring Canyon Area. This group will work to maintain climbing areas in the county, draft maps of current climbing routes, monitor and rate conditions, and develop a priority list of improvements.
Madrone Wall Preservation Committee: Overlook Safety Railing
The Madrone Wall Preservation Committee (MWPC) was awarded funding to build an overlook at the Madrone Wall crag in Oregon, which was a component of the site plan approved by Clackamas County Parks when they granted climbing access in 2017. MWPC is now ready to make good on that commitment, installing a safety railing at the top of the cliff. Once the overlook construction is complete, MWPC will be able to move forward and build a trail from the base of the cliff around each end and across the top, improving the visitor experience.
Mark Twain National Forest: Devil’s Elbow Climbing Risk Signs
Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri was awarded funding to create signage for Devil’s Elbow climbing area. Funds will be used to create two rock-climbing disclaimer signs that will be placed at the top of each access path. These signs will provide proper notification of the inherent risk all climbers undertake when entering Devil’s Elbow, and will allow the USFS to avoid more restrictive practices in climbing management.
Valdez Adventure Alliance: Berry Trail Construction
Valdez Adventure Alliance (VAA) was awarded funding to finish construction of a trail between Blueberry Rock and Raspberry Rock in Alaska. With several events and an outdoor college program starting in the fall, this trail needs to be completed to avoid potentially negative environmental impacts and to make these two areas accessible to the public.
Wagon Wheel Co Opt: Hueco Tanks Educational Signage
Wagonwheel Co Opt (WWC), a local guiding company, was awarded funding for educational signage to protect cultural resources and possibly expand bouldering opportunities at Hueco Tanks in Texas. Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site is a world-class bouldering area, as well as sacred land to many Indigenous nations. Currently, it’s hard for climbers to recognize when a specific area is closed to climbing. WWC will develop explicit signage to direct people away from closed areas and toward spots that are cleared for bouldering. This new signage will educate visitors on the ancient rock paintings, their origins, and what they mean to the Indigenous people who value and regard them as important cultural symbols. WWC’s hope is that by doing a better job of protecting these closed areas, they may be able to open up others.