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Spring into Stewardship!

Posted on: April 29th, 2013 by edemarco

With the snow melting and temperatures warming up, no doubt climbers are psyched to get out of the gym and start pulling on real rock. Another thing to be excited about is a number of community-building stewardship days happening at crags around the country. You can’t get into the full swing of things without a little bit of spring cleaning, and what better way to get things going than getting outside, getting your hands dirty, and giving back to where you climb?

One group which has their annual spring stewardship activities nailed down is the Oregon-based Smith Rock Group. Overseen by the “Mayor of Smith Rock,” Ian Caldwell, the Smith Rock Spring Thing has really been growing over the years. It blurs the line between party and stewardship day once you throw in over 200 volunteers, free burritos, outdoor yoga, slacklining, an auction and a raffle.

“It would have taken us years to pay for all the materials. The AAC Cornerstone Grant knocked it out in a single year.” –Ian Caldwell

Fun and Festivities at Smith Rock Spring Thing 2012

Fun and festivities at Smith Rock Spring Thing 2012

In 2011, the AAC awarded a Cornerstone Conservation Grant to the Spring Thing organizers, who put the funds to good use for the 2012 event by purchasing pressure-treated wood and rebar to build new stairs to the Dihedrals and add nearly 100 extra steps on Misery Ridge. According to Ian, “our fundraising efforts keep our program going from year to year… It would have taken us years to pay for all the materials. The AAC Cornerstone Grant knocked it out in a single year.”

Building stairs to improve access to climbing at Smith Rock

The wood used for the steps is designed to withstand the elements and protect against insects, microorganisms, and fungal decay for up to 20 years. Choosing these materials for the project really demonstrates the Smith Rock Group’s dedication to conservation and the long-term sustainability and protection of this revered climbing area. “The Park Manager was amazed of all the work we got done,” said Ian, and now “it is so easy to hike to the cliff that I have no excuse for not sending my project.”

“Increasingly, we realize that we must give back, in whatever way we can, to preserve these natural resources and our access to them.” –John Connor

Repairing the steps the to Dihedrals at Smith Rock

Repairing the steps to the Dihedrals at Smith Rock

The 21st Annual Smith Rock Spring Thing is happening soon, and the AAC is one of many proud sponsors of this volunteer-driven park maintenance day. According to John Connor, AAC Oregon Section Co-chair, “climbers’ impact to our favorite crags, walls, and alpine areas now outpaces the existing infrastructure, and funding, for their maintenance. Increasingly, we realize that we must give back, in whatever way we can, to preserve these natural resources and our access to them.”

So, if you live nearby, be sure to trade in your climbing helmet for a hard hat on May 11, and join in the fun! Check out the 2013 Smith Rock Spring Thing Facebook page to get the dirt.

Not in Oregon? Contact your AAC Regional Coordinator or Section Chair to find out about stewardship activities happening in your area. Would a Cornerstone Conservation Grant help you get your local stewardship project off the ground? The application period is approaching (June 15–August 15). Get the skinny here, and for questions about this grant opportunity, contact your Regional Coordinator.

All photos courtesy Ian Caldwell.

This event was powered by hard-working volunteers

This event was powered by hard-working volunteers

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