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The AAC and Access Fund. Kiss or Kill?
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By Tradoholic
Aug 10, 2012

As you may know there are a few prominent climbing advocacy groups in the US. Here is a thread to talk about them. In no particular order here are some things to discuss:

-Are you a member of one or both? If so, why?

-How can either of the groups do better?

-Would you be interested in a joint membership?

-What if the AAC library was Netflix style, how much would you pay for that?

-Who can name the president of either group?

-What are the goals of each group?

-Tell us a story, how has the AAC or AF effected your climbing?

-Could a climbers advocacy group ever be a powerful lobbyist?

-Let 'er rip, why are these groups a waste of money, time, and resources?

-Can these groups be feared like the NRA or ATV Assoc? Should they be feared? Should climbers sue for access?


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Aug 10, 2012

You've exceeded the "one-question-per-thread" limit. Not that any such limit exists.


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By Brad W
From San Diego
Aug 11, 2012

What I don't get and have been wondering lately is why there are two groups, ASCA and ARI, that seem to have the same purpose.

As for the OP, im a member of both. AAC for a few years, AF for one. I like the advocacy that both groups do, especially the AF. An AAC membership pretty much pays for itself for me in the alpinist and other discounts, which is a nice bonus. I like the reports they put out and the grants they've started recently.


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By Tradoholic
Aug 11, 2012

Pick one Frankie and go with it.


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By Ethan Henderson
From Silverdale, WA
Aug 11, 2012
aliens

I really dig the AAC Library.


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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Aug 11, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks

I am a member of both!!!

The insurance alone is worth the membership to AAC. The library is awesome!!! The whole building in Golden is awesome!!!

As for the access fund......well anytime we gain more access or save areas it is a good thing.

Can either do more for me?? Not really..... Maybe more AAC climbing huts..... And of course the Access fund could work on Sphinx Rock!!!!!!


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By Tradoholic
Aug 11, 2012

Ethan Henderson wrote:
I really dig the AAC Library.


Yes, but why? Is there anyway it could be better?


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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Aug 11, 2012
Sure, I can belay

Access Fund member and contributor for many years.
I would like to see the fund solicit new members much more aggressively. There is no excuse for any climber NOT to be a member. The more members, the more clout with beaurocracies and the more cash to fund worthwhile projects.

I have been an AAC member in the past and frankly saw little benefit. At the time there was no hut reciprocity in Europe, so we had to join the French Alipne Club anyway. Rescue is not commonly billed in the US so the insurance doesn't help me and my recollection is that overseas coverage was not straightforward.
I would consider joining, but just don't see why.
It would however, be great to see the AAC library holdings available in digital form.

Mark


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By Mr. Holmes
From Cascade West
Aug 11, 2012
#2

Not only am I an A.F. member, I am also a (volunteer) Regional Coodinator for Oregon. I have been for over 9 years and love the work the Access Fund does. I have seen it open more doors and open seats at table discussion with land managers where climbing access was already considered closed or closures were immenant.

Fun fact: The A.F. actaully split off from the AAC.

I agree that more energy could/should be put into member drive(its is one of the biggest challenges we face because hey- what climber wants to give up beer money for an intangible thing like access. It is also a bit like insurance in that there's little percieved value when everything at my local crag is copesetic. but all of a sudden I hike out to my crag and there's a No Tresspassing sign... all of a sudden climbers LOVE the A.F.! I alos thing we need to see more pro athletes step up and speak out for support. We had the Ambassador program rollin fr quite a while with creat success but with schedules and contracts it is hard to nail them down for the long haul.

In regard to a formitable power house I say yes, the Access Fund lobbies on the Hill regularily and has leveraged an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) at a federal level with the USFS stating that access Fund representation (this can be a local climber) is allowed/invited at ANY USFS meeting when climbing access is on the agenda. Again thats any state, any district, any issue... thats a good start. We are looking for ways to appropriatly partner with other user groups (like ATV) when it is appropriate when dealing with access issues in "mixed- use areas" to increase the political "clout".

I would love to hear more on how folks feel these groups could do better. there is always room for improvement!

Hope this helps.


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By doligo
Aug 11, 2012
Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style

The AF t-shirt designs are way better than the ones of the AAC.


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By Tradoholic
Aug 11, 2012

Now we're talkin'. With money comes power so I'd like to see a stronger focus on recruiting members. My strong recommendation is to offer a joint AAC and AF membership that is, most importantly, billed via credit card on a monthly basis. This I can guarantee will foster a more continuous and most importantly lucrative membership.
With this monthly membership can come a Netflix style AAC library (at additional cost perhaps?), newsletter, magazine, whatever will hold a majority of climbers interest on a monthly basis. I'd pay $9.99 a month for that and that's equal to more than what the AAC and AF charge per year combined.

Overall I want to see a more continuous interaction between these groups and climbers, a announced and defined set of goals, plus a bit of entertainment to keep me engaged.


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By Mr. Holmes
From Cascade West
Aug 11, 2012
#2

doligo wrote:
The AF t-shirt designs are way better than the ones of the AAC.

+1


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By Mr. Holmes
From Cascade West
Aug 11, 2012
#2




I think this sums up the product that needs to be better packaged for the A-typical American Consumer asking "why are you charging my card once a month?"


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By Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
Aug 15, 2012

I've been a member of both organizations forever, it seems. I was on the founding board of the Access Fund and have been an AAC member since the early '80's. I started and served as a board member of the AF for 13 years and will continue to be a member because we will always need advocates to keep climbing areas open. I'm an AAC member because I appreciate the way they preserve and celebrate the legacy of climbing, they keep me informed of what's going on via the AAJ and ANAM and, importantly, I take advantage of all the ways they support climbers and climbing on a day-to-day basis.

I don't care about joint membership. I will always be a member of both groups because they serve different purposes. It may make some marketing or membership-drive sense to offer a promotional joint membership to members of college climbing clubs or whatever.

Goals:
The Access Fund's goal is to preserve access to climbing areas.

The American Alpine Club has too many goals. So many, in fact, that you need an instructional manual (2012 AAC Guidebook to Membership) to know what they do. I'm a member because the AAC is simply the single best resource for American Climbers. If I were the boss of writing tag lines, the AAC's would be AMERICA'S CLIMBING RESOURCE. Through the library, museum and rare books collection and, to a lesser extent, the AAJ and ANAM, they preserve climbing's legacy. Through their grants and educational programs they build climbing's future. And, importantly, through the long list of benefits (insurance, research, events, hut system, campgrounds, discounts, etc) they support my day-to-day climbing.

There are not enough climbers and we don't spend enough money to buy any legislators. If, however, we join with other groups that recreate in the outdoors, we become the third largest private economic engine in the US valued at $646 Billion. If we (climbers, environmentalists, photographers, mountainbikers, horseback, hunters and fishermen, ATVs and motos, backpackers and all the businesses that support the recreation community) could ever get on the same side of the table and form a PAC, then we'd have more juice than all the business sectors except banking and insurance.

Read that last sentence again. It's important.

Our goal as recreationists is not to be feared. It's to be loved.

Cheers,
Malcolm


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Aug 15, 2012
The Shield

I am a member of both and have been since the early 90's (AAC) and its founding (AF). I think it could be easily proven that without the Access Fund climbing would be radically different for us in the US, as in much, much more limited. Every climber should be a member of this organization... it does nothing but good and without it we would not enjoy the sport the way we do.


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By Tradoholic
Aug 15, 2012

Malcolm Daly wrote:
I don't care about joint membership. I will always be a member of both groups because they serve different purposes. It may make some marketing or membership-drive sense to offer a promotional joint membership to members of college climbing clubs or whatever.


I see your "different purposes" point but as you say later on climbers as a whole would be more effective as a unified group. I think generally speaking the two groups are very similar, they promote climbing and would probably have a much better impact if they could unify once again.

Malcolm Daly wrote:
Goals: The Access Fund's goal is to preserve access to climbing areas. The American Alpine Club has too many goals. So many, in fact, that you need an instructional manual (2012 AAC Guidebook to Membership) to know what they do. I'm a member because the AAC is simply the single best resource for American Climbers. If I were the boss of writing tag lines, the AAC's would be AMERICA'S CLIMBING RESOURCE. Through the library, museum and rare books collection and, to a lesser extent, the AAJ and ANAM, they preserve climbing's legacy. Through their grants and educational programs they build climbing's future. And, importantly, through the long list of benefits (insurance, research, events, hut system, campgrounds, discounts, etc) they support my day-to-day climbing.


That's a pretty good explanation and it seems to paint the AAC as the mother organization? Perhaps the AF should become reabsorbed into the AAC?


Malcolm Daly wrote:
There are not enough climbers and we don't spend enough money to buy any legislators. If, however, we join with other groups that recreate in the outdoors, we become the third largest private economic engine in the US valued at $646 Billion. If we (climbers, environmentalists, photographers, mountainbikers, horseback, hunters and fishermen, ATVs and motos, backpackers and all the businesses that support the recreation community) could ever get on the same side of the table and form a PAC, then we'd have more juice than all the business sectors except banking and insurance. Read that last sentence again. It's important. Our goal as recreationists is not to be feared. It's to be loved. Cheers, Malcolm


I think it's pretty far-fetched to imagine a table with all of those groups on the same side and currently those groups are splintered even more than described. I would say that if the ones with strong crossover, climbing/photography/MTB etc, were able to at least loosely combine then we could get somewhere. However, I can't see those other types of people joining something called the American Alpine Club, just the name has strong connotations that don't include them. Hence, to unify as many people as possible a new Org would have to be created or at least a name change to the AAC.

As I said above money=power and they way to get more money is to get more members and the ways to get more members is to appeal to many different kinds of people because currently that community is very splintered.

Anyone got some good names for a group that would appeal to the mass outdoor recreation crowd?


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By jmeizis
From Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 15, 2012
The Beginning of Mr. Clean (5.8) at the Barkeater Cliffs in Adirondack Park NY.

I don't belong to either. Part of the reason why is I already have member fees with the AMGA and since, at least in the talking I've done with recruiters at events (ice fest, rendevous, etc.) they're more focused on general climber access. Which I am of course for but since commercial access is how I am able to make a living I invest what little money I have where I think I'll get the most return.

What I would like to see is all these climbing and guiding advocacy groups work together even with other outdoor recreation groups to promote access (recreational and commercial) along the lines of what Malcolm mentioned. Hard to do though since some of those groups have conflicting interests.

Sometimes you don't have to buy a legislator. Sometimes you just have to scream loud enough that they'll do anything so you'll shut up.


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By doligo
Aug 15, 2012
Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style

There are already big outdoor recreation organizations that appeal to the larger crowd and who have a clout in D.C. - Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) from the North East and River Keeper just to name the few. When I lived in the NE, I used to be a member of the AMC and volunteered a lot with them. Unlike the Sierra Club, who make political endorsements and commit faux-pas like endorsing "green" Clorox, the AMC is politically neutral, but quietly gets things done like obtaining a Wilderness designation for the White Mountains of New Hampshire during GWB administration.

I don't think the AF needs to be incorporated into a larger non-profit. Larger non-profits become bureaucratic machines, less agile and more wasteful. I like giving to smaller non-profits like the Center for Biological Diversity - I believe they were named one of the most efficient environmental groups in terms of dollars spent/things done. They work in a unique way of litigating to gain protections for endangered species (you can read more about them on their site www.biologicaldiversity.org/support/membership/index.html). They were one of very few voices raising an alarm when the BP/Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico couple years ago. I like Malcolm's idea of a PAC though...


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By Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
Aug 15, 2012

S.P.L.T. Image,

I don't agree that the AF and the AAC should join forces. Their missions are distinct and all climbers should be members of both. Clear and separate missions will allow each organization to best pursue their own goals.

It's no stretch of the imagination to imagine a diverse group of outdoor recreation organizations to sit on the same side of the table. Imagine if the area around Canyonlands National Park were threatened by oil and gas drilling, tar sands operations, uranium exploration, mining and milling and more potash mining and mills. Why is it a stretch for you to imagine the motos, ATVs, hikers and climbers on the same side of the table? After all, if the area gets blown up, drilled, mined and otherwise fucked up, it will be removed from the recreation equation for all of us.

This doesn't mean that we'd have to form a single club for all of us to join. A Super PAC , funded by businesses and organizations that represent the third largest sector of our private economy, Outdoor Recreation, is a reasonable way to present a large force in DC when we have a shared interest to fight for.

But I digress. Much like mixing religion and government messes up both, a joining of the AF and the AAC would obscure their mission and make it harder to achieve their goals.

Join both organizations.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

climb safe,
Mal


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By Vaughne
Aug 15, 2012

Join the American Alpine Club

Join The Access Fund


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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 15, 2012
Andrew Gram

Malcolm, it is a stretch because motos and ATVs are worse than drillers/miners. We need what drillers/miners provide even if we don't much like where they want to get it from, and at least nowadays they clean up after themselves. Motos/ATVs are scum that tear up the desert for no gain at all - they just totally trash whatever places they go. At least in Utah, the motorized rec lobbies have probably been just as effective at preventing land protection as extraction companies are.


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By Tradoholic
Aug 15, 2012

Malcolm Daly wrote:
S.P.L.T. Image, I don't agree that the AF and the AAC should join forces. Their missions are distinct and all climbers should be members of both. Clear and separate missions will allow each organization to best pursue their own goals.


I don't disagree that climbers should join both, my point is that they won't. Likely they will do one or the other, much like jmeizis has chosen the AMGA over the rest. Perhaps I should elaborate on my idea; There would be a representative group that acts as an umbrella for many groups. Each group would get one board member or whatever, the details can be worked out. Why did the AF split from the AAC in the first place?

Malcolm Daly wrote:
It's no stretch of the imagination to imagine a diverse group of outdoor recreation organizations to sit on the same side of the table. Imagine if the area around Canyonlands National Park were threatened by oil and gas drilling, tar sands operations, uranium exploration, mining and milling and more potash mining and mills. Why is it a stretch for you to imagine the motos, ATVs, hikers and climbers on the same side of the table? After all, if the area gets blown up, drilled, mined and otherwise fucked up, it will be removed from the recreation equation for all of us. This doesn't mean that we'd have to form a single club for all of us to join. A Super PAC , funded by businesses and organizations that represent the third largest sector of our private economy, Outdoor Recreation, is a reasonable way to present a large force in DC when we have a shared interest to fight for. But I digress. Much like mixing religion and government messes up both, a joining of the AF and the AAC would obscure their mission and make it harder to achieve their goals. Join both organizations. Seems like a no-brainer to me. climb safe, Mal


I agree but I would point out that on only a few issues could these groups all come together. Again, an over-arching central group could represent the collective interest off all "Outdoor Recreation" if these Orgs were willing to become "members" of the Umbrella group.

Crystal Cave in NM is about to the closed and there is apparently nothing the AF can do about it:
mountainproject.com/v/crystal-cave-closed/107741874#a_107750>>>
clearly, AF the and other groups need to form a PAC to fight the interests on tribes and the ineptitude of the Forest Service.



What can the AF do here, specifically?


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By Guy Keesee
From Moorpark, CA
Aug 15, 2012
Big Boulder, just a bit downhill from Temple of Kali. Alabama Hills, CA.

"What can the AF do here, specifically?"


Get Williamson opened up


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By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From Lander, WY
Aug 15, 2012
The Shield

Everyone wants their crag saved or protected by the Access Fund. And to prove it, they will pay $35 and then complain that the t-shirt doesn't fit right and the water bottle leaked in their bag after the lid wasn't totally tightened... at best. Don't look at what they send you in the mail, look at what they give you over the long haul and just send them a little money.

If you pick one, pick the Access Fund. And i say this believing in the work of the AAC and feeling they have come around a bend and are on par with the average climber. This is simply because the AF is indespensible. Without it, you probably would not be a climber right now.

And they should be separate organizations that work for climbers as best they can in tandem. One has a specialty, the other works in all sorts of areas.


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By Guy Keesee
From Moorpark, CA
Aug 15, 2012
Big Boulder, just a bit downhill from Temple of Kali. Alabama Hills, CA.

AF seems to be mostly concerned with stuff out in Colorado and other spots......

In California, not much protecting, or even complaining via the courts.

We have lost Fossel Falls, Castle Crags, Auburn Quarry and Williamson, without squat being done.

Maybe time for AF/California?


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Aug 15, 2012
Pulling a small roof at 2/3 height on Mission Impossible.  Adam Sanders photo.

Guy Keesee wrote:
AF seems to be mostly concerned with stuff out in Colorado and other spots...... In California, not much protecting, or even complaining via the courts. We have lost Fossel Falls, Castle Crags, Auburn Quarry and Williamson, without squat being done. Maybe time for AF/California?


I won't pretend to have all the facts, but I'm pretty sure this is untrue. The Access Fund sued (albeit unsuccessfully) over Cave Rock. And I'm fairly certain they were pivotal in securing access to Jailhouse Rock.

More specifically, according to this the AF is heavily involved in resolving the Auburn Quarry situation.

I think if you look at their track record over the past 15 years they've done a good job of spreading the love around the country.


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