In reply to:
Access Fund Statement
April 29, 2003
How the Access Fund Manages Its Support
We want to thank all our members and volunteers for their time and support.
Many members have volunteered with trail projects, given significant
donations of time and money, have worked with or started local climber
organizations, have developed good relationships with local land managers or
owners, and volunteered as Regional Coordinators.
In a perfect world, the Access Fund (AF) and many of the other volunteer
organizations working to forward stewardship of recreational areas would put
themselves out of business. As one writer said, ?Access issues will resolve
themselves if climbers acted in a manner that was respectful to land
ownership.? However, climbing is growing rapidly and attracting many people
with many different backgrounds that require environmental education, an
understanding of impact mitigation, and minimum impact in sensitive and
sacred areas. Also, private land is being developed at an exceptionally fast
rate as the quantity of outdoor users groups increases which in turn creates
potential for conflicts.
The simple answer to conflict is to close or severely restrict climbing
The truth is that protecting our rights to public lands and gaining proper
access to private land requires time, dedication, money, and patience. For
our members, we would like for you to know that we take your investment in
the AF as seriously as protecting access for climbing. To be an excellent
representative organization, it is vitally important for us to hear what the
climbing community is thinking and feeling. Below are facts about the AF in
response to a recent posting on Rockclimbing.com.
Salaries & Expenses
AF Board Members are unpaid. They donate hundreds of their hours a year,
mostly pay for their travel to meetings, and also contribute monetarily. In
the earliest days of the AF, some board members loaned the AF money -
interest free - to get us though difficult times.
The recent misrepresentation of an alleged "Summit" was actually a
semi-annual board meeting timed to coincide with a ribbon cutting ceremony
for Minnewaska State Park. There was no meeting with the Mountain House,
and no member of the board stayed there. The opening of Minnewaska State
Park was the first and only New York state park to allow rock climbing, and
it took several volunteers five and a half years of working with the state
to make it happen. There have been conversations with the owners of Skytop
to work with liability concerns. To date, however, these conversations have
not lead to a change in the existing situation. Climbers have no right to
climb on private land without the landowner?s permission and jeopardize the
rights of the rest of the climbing community by their actions. The AF has
limited tools other than trying to buy, lease or negotiate conservation
easements. Success on gaining easements on private land depends on the
landowner?s desire to work with the AF. Private land ownership rights are
important to all, and we encourage all climbers to respect private
landowners and their choices.
The AF has a small number of dedicated full-time staff. Their focus
includes access and stewardship issues, review and comment on policy and
management plans, membership support, coordinating volunteers and
fundraising required in accomplishing our mission. This team is compensated
with salary and benefits as required for fulltime employees by law. Like
any good climber, we are lean and nimble. Compensation is determined by a
national and local average for non-profit organizations. Most of our staff
is paid at or below the national average for non-profits. Without our
dedicated staff, events like Adopt a Crag Day, education materials on
Raptors, and much of our core mission work would not be possible.
The AF has a long history of working with local climbers to protect our
climbing resources through conservation easements. As a last resort, we
acquire land. We never bid against Horse Pens 40. In fact, we spent
considerable time working with the local climbing community and the new
owner to ensure continued climber access.
The grants program puts money in the field for trails, toilets and other
mitigation measures. We are not a foundation whose purpose is to give away
its assets. Instead we created the grants program as a way to leverage the
work we are doing by supporting local activists pursuing these same goals.
The National Park Service recently recognized our efforts in helping to
clean up Denali.
Mostly, we support local volunteers with our professional staff, supply
expertise, encourage others to help protect their local climbing areas and
develop positive relationships with their land managers. For more
information on our grants program see our website at
The AF does own stocks and bonds that were directly donated by its members.
Membership money has never gone to purchase stock. As the economy has
declined during the past few years, we have suffered significant losses to
our stock investments. We are hoping for a rebound so we can devote these
resources to the support of our mission.
The Access Fund
The AF is a national organization that works with private landowners as well
as federal (USFS, BLM, USPS) state, and local affiliations. We are dedicated
to being the voice of the climbing community for resolving access issues and
to promote stewardship of the land. We value input from the community in
order to serve it better.
Please visit our web site at www.accessfund.org
if you would like more information or have questions about the AF. For
those looking for financial information, see our 2002 annual report that we
will post on-line in May.
Thank you for your continued support,
The Access Fund