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2012 Cornerstone Conservation Grant Recipients Announced

Posted on: October 17th, 2012 by The AAC

By Emma Walker, AAC Conservation & Advocacy Intern

The American Alpine Club is pleased to announce that it has chosen the recipients of the 2012 Cornerstone Conservation Grant. The Cornerstone Grant funds essential infrastructure to reduce climber impacts at the climbing areas we love. Launched in 2011, this new AAC grant aims to protect, restore and sustain local crags around the country. This year, we are thrilled to award $25,000 to seven outstanding projects, from the Pacific Northwest to New England.

The climbing areas receiving facelifts with 2012 Cornerstone funds include such iconic destinations as Indian Creek, Eldorado Canyon, the Gunks, and Rumney Rocks. Of the seven projects being funded, four seek to implement better human waste solutions (“exit strategies” as we like to call them), including a pilot program at Rumney involving Pack-Out bags and educational signage encouraging climbers to pack out their waste. New or improved latrine facilities—including two waterless vault toilets, at Kentucky’s Muir Valley Nature and Climbing Preserve—will be built at three climbing areas.

Both Rocky Mountain Region projects, at Eldo and Indian Creek, seek to build better access trails for the most heavily used areas, thereby eliminating social trails and reducing climber impact on the environment.

Finally, the Gunks Climbers Coalition plans to use its Cornerstone funds to pilot a Gym-to-Crag program, which will help climbers transition from indoor to outdoor climbing and better prepare them to become active stewards of their environment.

The AAC’s Conservation and Advocacy Department would like to thank each of the applicants for 2012 Cornerstone Grants for their interest in protecting our nation’s climbing. If you see a need for improvement of your local crag’s infrastructure, please visit the Cornerstone Conservation Grant website for more information on how and when to apply for funds.


2012 Cornerstone Conservation Grant Recipients:
Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, Joe’s Valley Latrine Project
Joe’s Valley is an increasingly popular bouldering destination with hundreds of established routes; currently, no human waste management program exists at the area. The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance plans to use its Cornerstone funds to install two seasonal latrines to help alleviate environmental impacts from human waste.

Friends of Muir Valley, Muir Valley Nature Preserve and Climbing Arena, KY; toilets

Over 30,000 people visited this world-class climbing area in 2011, and the high traffic created a great deal of unmanaged human waste. Two small, waterless, unisex restrooms will be installed in the most heavily used areas of Muir Valley.

Washington Climbers’ Coalition, Vantage, WA; toilet
The Washington Climbers’ Coalition plans to use its grant to mitigate the impact of increased traffic to Frenchman’s Coulee, a classic Pacific Northwest climbing destination, by installing a permanent vault toilet.  A combined effort among local climbing organizations including the Mountaineers, the WCC and the AAC have brought this decades long effort to the home stretch.

Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Indian Creek, UT; trail work
User-created social trails have sprung up all over Indian Creek, causing erosion in a sensitive ecosystem. RMFI will use its Cornerstone funds to construct sustainable access trails, aligning them with the topography and adding stabilizing features, including risers, steps, and crib walls.

Gunks Climbers’ Coalition, Gym to Crag Education and Stewardship Program
Many climbers transition from climbing at the gym to climbing outdoors with little knowledge of outdoor ethics and personal responsibility inherent to outdoor climbing. The Gunks Climbers’ Coalition will implement a program to fill the education gap and prepare new climbers to lessen their impact.

Rumney Climbers’ Association, Rumney Rocks, White Mountain National Forest, NH; Pack Out Project
Rumney Rocks has seen an increase in human waste issues, and this program will help to promote the reduction of human waste left behind by educating visitors about human impact in the backcountry.

Boulder Climbing Community, Eldorado Canyon, the Flatirons, and Boulder Canyon; Front Range Trail Team

Climbers leave their greatest footprint on their way to and from the rocks, and the Boulder Climbing Community plans to alleviate that impact by establishing a three-person team of trail building experts to improve the most heavily impacted access trails in Boulder, CO. The Front Range Trail Team will collaborate with land managers and community volunteers to reduce climber impacts.

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