August 28, Clifton, Maine - The Clifton Climbers Alliance (CCA) and Access Fund are thrilled to announce the final acquisition of Eagle Bluff in central Maine for permanent conservation and recreational access. In February 2014, the Access Fund secured an Option Agreement to purchase Eagle Bluff and a recreational lease to re-open this incredible area. In just six months, climbers and conservationists from New England and beyond have raised over $100,000. Access Fund assigned the Option Agreement to CCA, which completed the purchase this week. The Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, the program that provides local climbing organizations with the funds and expertise needed to quickly save threatened climbing areas, provided a small loan to bridge the gap between available donations and pending grant applications.
“The Access Fund is proud to play a role in permanently protecting Eagle Bluff for conservation and recreation,” says Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson. “We are excited to support CCA and the local community of central Maine in this collaborative effort.”
Climbers have been enjoying the granite cracks of Eagle Bluff since the late 1960s. Today, the area features over 130 cracks and sport climbs as well as bouldering below the bluff and a popular trail to the top of the bluff. In the mid-1990s, climbing access was threatened when the property was listed for sale. The Access Fund started working with the local climbing community to fundraise, but the previous owner was unwilling to wait, and local climber Donald Nelligan stepped up to purchase the property. Donald passed away in the Summer of 2013 with no will to outline the future of Eagle Bluff, and the Nelligan family closed public access due to liability concerns and immediately sought to sell the property.
The Access Fund and CCA would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who generously donated to save Eagle Bluff. “The amount of support for this effort has been overwhelming,” says Ben Townsend, an attorney and longtime climber who has volunteered legal services for the project. “Don Nelligan had a vision that Eagle Bluff would be a public resource for rock climbing, hiking, and other public recreation, and by acquiring this property, we're pleased to be able to assure the long-term protection of that goal."
This project was made possible by hundreds of individual donations, as well as key support from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Boston Chapter Mountaineering Committee, CCA Bluff Fest supporters, Quimby Family Foundation, Black Diamond Equipment, Davis Family Foundation, and an anonymous major donor. The Town of Clifton Planning Board Chair and Maine Coast Heritage Trust provided valuable in-kind support. CCA and the Access Fund have additional grant applications pending to fully fund the acquisition and stewardship of Eagle Bluff. CCA received initial approval on a grant from Land for Maine’s Future, a competitive state funding source reserved for critical conservation and recreational areas like Eagle Bluff. Additional steps are required to receive final approval from the State of Maine, which is anticipated later in the year.
“Clifton Climbers Alliance has a long-term goal of assuring responsible stewardship of the unique climbing resources of Eagle Bluff,” says Jeremy Robichaud, President of CCA. “Purchasing the property is a great first step.” CCA is in the process of identifying priorities for needed improvements for public access, which may include signs, work on the parking areas, and possibly a vault toilet.
About the 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 over 6.8 million 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 management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. Since 1990, the Access Fund has supported 47 land acquisitions by land trusts, public entities, and local climbing organizations, totaling 15,291 acres across twenty five states. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org.
About the Clifton Climbers Alliance
The Clifton Climbers Alliance works to conserve and protect climbing resources in the Clifton area and Central Maine. As a newly formed Maine nonprofit organization, CCA is fully prepared to manage Eagle Bluff for future generations to enjoy in its natural state. For more information, visit www.cliftonclimbersalliance.org.