Access Fund Gives $30K in Conservation Grants 

Putting our donations and membership dollars to work, Access Fund has given 2023 conservation grants to 10 local climbing organizations.

Photo: Matt Cunningham

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Since 1991, Access Fund has awarded more than $1.5 million in Climbing Conservation Grants to nearly 500 projects in land conservation and climbing access. This year, the organization is giving $30,000 to local climbing organizations engaged in erosion mitigation, infrastructure repair, trail work, and climber education.

“Climbers are conservationists at heart and willing to roll up our sleeves on behalf of the climbing environment,” says Jenna Winkler, the National Affiliate Director at Access Fund. “From the mountains of Idaho to the hollers of Kentucky, we’re proud to fund these ten critical conservation projects.”

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Boulder Climbing Community: Blob Rock Climbing Access—Phase I

The Boulder Climbing Community (BCC) has identified critical climbing access improvement needs at the Blob Rock complex in Colorado’s Boulder Canyon. The main trails to Blob and East Blob Rock currently have steep, loose sections that ascend directly up the slope. Stone staircases, retaining walls, and check dams can address this problem. Along with the access trails, the base areas for the main climbing sites require stabilization and infrastructure. The Blob Gully and East Blob Gully hold the most popular climbing routes and see heavy traffic on weekends. These loose, unstable gullies will benefit from the construction of stone stairs and platforms. BCC was awarded funding for a professional trail crew to complete this multiyear project.

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Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition: Recreating in Hueco Tanks After Precipitation Education Campaign

A new campaign from Climbers of Hueco Tanks Coalition will educate climbers in Texas on the importance of waiting to climb after precipitation. They will train guides, create signage and posters for the park and local businesses, spread the word across social media, and build a formal public service announcement in partnership with a professional climber. Access Fund’s grant will support the design and printing of campaign materials.


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Fix CRUS Coalition: 2024 Campaign Support

The Fix CRUS Coalition is working to strengthen free public access to countless acres of public and private land used for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and other recreational activities. A new interpretation of Colorado’s Recreational Use Statute (CRUS) has led to several high-profile private land closures on iconic Colorado 14ers, including Mount Lincoln, Mount Democrat, and Mount Lindsey. FCC is a robust coalition looking to amend the statute to strengthen landowner protections and maintain free public access to public and private land for recreation. Grant funding will support an effort to change the law in 2024.


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Friends of Indian Creek: Continued Baseline Dispersed Campsite Inventory and Education Project

Friends of Indian Creek (FOIC) is continuing their work to inventory camping at this international climbing destination in Utah. Access Fund awarded FOIC funding in 2020, which allowed the group to study more than 200 existing sites. This year’s grant will support FOIC’s efforts to add new climbing sites to its existing inventory. FOIC will also create signage and brochures to encourage Leave No Trace practices.

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Friends of Muir Valley: Concrete Bridge Repair on Muir Valley Floor

Friends of Muir Valley (FOMV) needs to repair a concrete bridge between Hideout and the Great Wall, which provides access to Muir for emergency rescue vehicles. The bridge was washed out during heavy rains in the spring of 2023, making it unsafe for anything other than pedestrian traffic to cross. Addressing this maintenance issue will reduce response times in cases where climbing accidents require evacuation by ambulance and where providing timely medical assistance is of utmost importance. FOMV will use the grant to purchase construction materials to build the bridge.

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Great Plains Climbing Coalition: Environmental Impact Improvement

Palisades State Park in South Dakota and Blue Mounds State Park in Minnesota combine to form an important climbing resource for Great Plains climbers. Using an Access Fund Conservation Grant, the Great Plains Climbing Coalition (GPCC) will mitigate erosion and improve trails and belay pads at these two parks. GPCC will focus its efforts on Community Cove in the Dells of the Sioux River, where serious erosion issues predate climber access. The City of Dell Rapids and GPCC’s board of directors surveyed the area and created a climbing management plan to further sustainability efforts in these spaces. Grant funding will allow GPCC to purchase tools and materials to complete this project.

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Ragged Mountain Foundation: Dam Repair Project

In 1999, the Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF) took ownership of a 52-acre parcel around the Main Cliff of Connecticut’s Ragged Mountain. The property includes a cliff line, hiking trails, and infrastructure—including the Stanley Hart Pond. RMF owns most of this pond’s perimeter, which means it is responsible for maintaining a dam at its outlet. A recent inspection by the State of Connecticut suggested the replacement of the dam’s drawdown pipe and valve. Grant funding will cover contractor costs to conduct this work so they can fulfill their commitment as landowners of this climbing area.

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Southeastern Climbers Coalition: Woodcock Cove Trail Infrastructure

With support from Access Fund and other partners, Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) opened Woodcock Cove to the public on March 1, 2022. The site offers stunning views of Tennessee’s Sequatchie Valley and plentiful rock climbing opportunities on high-quality sandstone, making it a popular destination. Over the past 18 months, SCC staff and volunteers have worked to advance infrastructure and stewardship projects to pave the way for a sustainable future for the area. Due to the steep and rugged nature of the property, SCC still has several sections of technical trail to build and staging areas to stabilize. While the organization will continue to host volunteer trail days throughout the year, some of the technical projects would benefit from the expertise of professional trail builders. Funding will support the time and materials needed to perform the trail work.

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Tom Addison: Shell Road Parking Lot

Shell Road in Tuolumne County, California, provides access to the popular climbing areas on Table Mountain, including the Grotto and Gold Wall. Unfortunately, the road to access the climbing areas is in disrepair and not drivable for most cars. As a result, many climbers park on a county-maintained section of Shell Road, a one-lane road with numerous private residences. These residents have complained to the county about the influx of nonresident vehicles, which have blocked owner’s access to their homes. Shell Road needs a parking area to maintain sustainable access to these climbing areas. A newly planned lot will add more than 45 parking spots, a seven-fold increase. Grant funds will cover the machinery and materials needed to complete this project.

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Wilderness Volunteers: Owl Rock Trail Maintenance & Erosion Mitigation

Wilderness Volunteers will use grant funds to support a weeklong volunteer service project focused on the Owl Rock Trail, which provides access to the Owl Rock and Bread Loaves climbing areas in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve. The project will completely reestablish the trail, making it safer for users and mitigating future erosion and resource damage through new trail construction, replacing dilapidated trail structures, clearing overgrown vegetation, and replacing the trail tread. Funding will cover crew expenses and materials needed to run the service project.

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