Access Fund Transfers Unaweep Cliffs for Local Safeguarding

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Grand Junction, CO. October 19, 2015 – Access Fund, the national advocacy group that keeps climbing areas open and conserved, and the Grand Junction-based Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition (WCCC) are pleased to announce the transfer of three major cliffs in Unaweep Canyon from Access Fund to WCCC. This marks a key milestone in the 25-year history of conservation and public access in the canyon. 

This transfer consolidates and permanently protects 50 acres of land under local nonprofit ownership by WCCC. The 50 acres includes eight cliffs and approximately 200 high-quality granite climbing routes, acquired by either Access Fund or WCCC since the early 1990s. Access Fund will maintain a permanent conservation and recreation easement on these properties to back up WCCC’s long-term commitment and ensure conservation and climbing access into perpetuity.

“Conservation of Unaweep Canyon has been a partnership since the beginning,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “Our goal is to empower and support local climbing organizations like WCCC to own, manage, and steward their local climbing areas.”

Access Fund purchased the cliffs known as Sunday, Fortress, and Hidden Valley in 1991 in partnership with three local climbers. Further west, WCCC secured the Upper Mothers Buttress with the help of Colorado climbers John and Marti Peterson in 2010. Then in October of 2014, WCCC completed a long negotiation to purchase the Lower Mothers Buttress and Television Wall areas with a $134,200 Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan.

WCCC conducted an extensive fund-raising effort that included grants from the Access Fund and Alpenglow Foundation, as well as gifts from Shaw Construction, realtor Christi Reece, and others. WCCC will maintain the cliff line and public access while subdividing and selling residential lots along State Highway 141. A similar conservation strategy was successfully employed by Access Fund in the 1990s and allowed WCCC to secure Upper Mothers Buttress in 2010. The Access Fund easement will protect the land for public access, and the transfer will enable WCCC to adjust property lines for the future sale of road frontage. WCCC is currently working on the pending subdivision and sale with a potential buyer that has expressed a shared interest in climbing and conservation of Unaweep Canyon.

“Protecting Unaweep Canyon’s cliff line is an important part of WCCC’s work and mission as the local nonprofit climbing organization for the region,” says WCCC President Jesse Zacher. “We’re fortunate to have great partners and supporters to make this project happen.” WCCC extends its thanks to Steve Johnson, Marc Kenney, and Dave Foley for providing pro bono legal, engineering, and survey work.

WCCC needs the continued support of climbers, recreationists, and the people of western Colorado to fundraise for the acquisition and stewardship of Unaweep Cliffs. Donations are encouraged and can be made on WCCC’s website at www.westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com.

About the Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition
The Western Colorado Climbers’ Coalition is dedicated to preserving access to Western Colorado’s climbing areas through land conservation and stewardship, education, and land use advocacy. Founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) Colorado nonprofit organization, the Grand Junction-based WCCC has a lead role in conserving and stewarding Unaweep Canyon’s climbing resources for public enjoyment in its natural state. For more information and to donate online, visit www.westernslopeclimbers.blogspot.com and follow the WCCC’s activities on Facebook.

About Access Fund
The Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, the Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing policy and advocacy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. Since 1991, the Access Fund has supported 57 land acquisitions by land trusts, public entities, and local climbing organizations, totaling 15,951 acres across twenty seven states. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org.

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