2016 Conservation and Advocacy Recap

It’s a wrap! 2016 was a strong year for the AAC. As we turn off the lights at the Clubhouse for the holiday break, we have a lot to celebrate. In 2016, we ramped up our efforts in protecting healthy climbing landscapes and advancing climber competency. Here are a few highlights on the conservation and public policy side:


AAC on Capitol Hill:
In the last several weeks, two bills AAC lobbied on were signed into law. Our partners at the Outdoor Industry Association have reached out to let us know that AAC’s lobby day last February made a difference in the passage of the REC Act and the National Park Service Centennial Act. More about these pieces of legislation:

  • REC Act: Recreation’s Economic Contributions (REC) Act directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis to quantify how much the outdoor industry contributes to job creation and consumer spending. We anticipate the outcome of the analysis will further justify the importance of outdoor recreation and keeping public lands public.

  • Centennial Act: The Centennial Act will provide greater funding for our national parks and will leverage philanthropic support to sustain the parks we love for the next one hundred years. 

Climbers have a vested interest in what happens in D.C., and showing up to make our voice heard is key to the future of the sport. By working together, with the industry and partner organizations, we are stronger as a community.
–AAC Policy Committee Member, Brad Brooks


The Walker Order:
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell released her Secretary’s Order—called the “Walker order” in memory of past AAC President Doug Walker. The Order is an effort to decrease barriers for disadvantaged youth to access public lands and waters through expediting the permit process. Secretary Jewell first announced the Walker Order at the AAC Annual Benefit Dinner in D.C. February, 2016.

Protecting Bears Ears:
Southeast Utah contains some of the best climbing in the country—Indian Creek, Lockhart Basin, Arch Canyon, Comb Ridge, Valley of the Gods and plenty yet to be discovered. Home to more than 100,000 cultural and archaeological sites, the Bears Ears area is also the most significant unprotected archeological area in the country. Together with Access Fund and Outdoor Alliance, we rallied climbers to send letters to the Obama administration, encouraging protection of climbing and Native American cultural resources. We delivered an analysis of the letters to policymakers. AAC CEO Phil Powers, Board President Matt Culberson and Policy Committee member Peter Metcalf co-authored a letter (CEQ) in support of the Monument.

AAC Conservation Grants & Awards:
2016 saw an increase in the amount of funding we awarded to our conservation grant recipients:

  • Cornerstone Conservation Grant: In 2016, AAC awarded a Cornerstone grant to 13 projects across the country. Learn about those projects here.

Check out our education page to learn more about how we're increasing climber competency as well as conserving our resources. A huge thanks to all our members, partners, and supporters who make these accomplishments possible!