~ Brady Robinson, AF Executive Director
A great partner knows your strengths and weaknesses, as you know theirs, and climbing together draws upon the team’s collective assets. One person leads the offwidths; the other leads the steep pitches. Someone takes the runout 5.9; the other handles the difficult routefinding. The better the partnership, the less each individual has to prove to the other. Trust is high and communication is minimal, focused on the task at hand. If you’re lucky, you achieve your objective, accomplishing much more than you ever could have on your own.
At their best, nonprofit partnerships are similar to good climbing partnerships. The Access Fund has had some victories that were largely our own, but much of our most important work has been in partnership with other organizations and entities.
At the national level, we’ve long partnered with the American Alpine Club (AAC) on national policy issues and, more recently, on land acquisitions for climber facilities. The New River Gorge campground project was made possible through our partnership, as was the acquisition of the Hueco Rock Ranch. This will benefit Hueco climbers and help maintain a facility that has long played a central role in climber relations with the park.
For the past five years, we’ve been working on national policy issues with other human-powered outdoor recreation advocacy groups through the Outdoor Alliance (OA). We recently convened a national partnership summit that brought together field staff and volunteers from each of the six OA groups, as well as representatives from state and federal land management agencies, to share stories of successful working relationships from around the United States. It is critical to form partnerships with government entities that manage the land we climb on. By focusing on successful examples, we hope to inspire land managers to see these partnerships in a positive light.
On the local level, our most important partnerships are with our many local climbing organizations (LCOs). The Access Fund provides financial capital and transaction expertise for climbing area acquisitions, consulting and expertise on stewardship projects, access to important decision makers at federal land management agencies, and years of policy experience on climbing management planning. The LCOs provide the relationship building, on-the-ground labor, and extensive local knowledge and project expertise. Though the results aren’t always immediately positive, national/local partnerships are a powerful way to work on behalf of climbing access and conservation.
When you support the Access Fund, you are buying into a huge network of partnerships, including national and local governments, advocacy organizations, and over 100 LCOs. When we aren’t worried about who gets credit but are instead focused on utilizing each organization’s strengths to achieve the greatest good, we can get some pretty incredible results. We at the Access Fund strive to be a great partner and thank all those organizations working with us to keep climbing areas open and protected.