News From WMCC

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Western Massachusetts Climbers’ Coalition

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Hadley, MA (February 24, 2014) – Western Massachusetts Climber’s Coalition announces new President!

 

One of the Northeast’s most active climbing advocacy groups, the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition (WMCC), is proud to announce another milestone in its mission to protect our most valuable climbing resources.  After twelve years serving the climbing community, WMCC founding member and President Jeff Squire will be handing off the sharp end and stepping down as President of the organization (effective April 2014). 

 

Squire will be passing the rack into the capable, charismatic and highly motivated hands of Peter Clark of Hadley, MA. Mr. Clark will work alongside the WMCC’s membership and five-member Board of Directors, bringing a diverse and deep skill set rooted in natural resource management, non-profit development, and sports marketing.  Mr. Clark has been involved with the WMCC for over a decade as a driven volunteer dedicated to bettering the climbing landscape and conservation of the vertical environment. Mr. Clark was elected President by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors and has, along with Mr. Squire, crafted a transition plan to ensure that the long success the WMCC is paid forward into its next generation of leadership.  Squire will remain a Board member of the WMCC and a Special Advisor to Mr. Clark.  

 

 “The Western Massachusetts Climber’s Coalition has been on the leading edge of local climbing organizations since its launch in 2002.  The work completed under Jeff’s leadership is both inspirational and staggering.  Because of his drive, dozens of climbing areas including Farley Ledge are now secure; an achievement that will historically define climbing in Southern New England.  It’s hardly enough, but I know I speak for the entire WMCC membership and every climber who has ever walked the Red Trail at Farley in thanking Jeff for his tireless service on our behalf.  I look forward to the challenges the next 10 years will bring us and aspire to the example that Jeff has set for us all.” said Clark.  “The WMCC is in an exciting place with several shovel-ready projects.  With stage one of the Farley Ledge Preservation project nearly completed, we plan to work even harder to develop stronger relationships with landowners to further secure climbing access throughout the Commonwealth, grow support with private and government agencies as well as within our own community to strengthen our voice, and engage with future generations to educate the next group of stewards of these places we love.”

 

Squire, author of the original Farley Management Plan, which is directly credited for opening the door for climbing access remarked, “On a muggy summer evening in 2002, a few climbers got together to think about how to protect our favorite climbing area. We penned a few ideas on a napkin and at the top we wrote ‘Western Mass Climbers’ Coalition,’ which is exactly what we became.  Nearly fifteen years later, that spirit of banding together to protect the climbing experience has helped us negotiate access to several premier crags hosting over 2,000 routes and boulder problems and to represent thousands of climbers throughout the East Coast. Climbing and its community in Western Massachusetts is in my blood and will always be a part of my life.  It has been my sincere privilege to have worked with all of our dedicated volunteers, develop relationships with the landowners that let us climb on their land, and help build a cohesive voice to represent the interests of climbers everywhere.  I look forward to heading out to the crag!” 

 

Integrated into one of the organization’s yearly events, we will be honoring Mr. Squire at the WMCC Annual Silent Auction (April 6th, 2014 at Café Esselon in Hadley).  We encourage everyone to mark their calendars, dry clean their puffy jackets and formal wear, and prepare for an evening of merriment! 

 
 

Access: Rattlesnake Gutter

 

June 2010

As you may or may not be aware, the WMCC has been actively working  with the Town of Leverett to develop management strategies for rock-climbing in Rattlesnake Gutter. Currently, climbing is neither prohibited nor actively managed in the Town owned portion of the Gutter, which includes the majority of the boulders and cliffs within the gated road.   In June, the Leverett Conservation Commission agreed to endorse WMCC efforts aimed at investigating the re-introduction of climbing in the area known as the "Main Cliff"-a privately owned section that has been closed to climbers (and the general public) since the late 80's.

The Town of Leverett had recently purchased land for conservation purposes at the top of the "Main Cliff".  This land was purchased using Community Preservation Act funding, which requires that land must also have a Conservation  Restriction (CR) placed on it.  According to state law, this CR must  be held by an entity other than the Town. The obvious choice to hold the CR was the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust (RGT), a local land trust comprised of passionate, mindful, and dedicated volunteers who work to protect land in Leverett.

The WMCC has had several meetings and conversations with the RGT since mid-September about climbing at the "Main-Cliff" and about the final CR language.  Despite these efforts, the final CR draft explicitly  PROHIBITED climbing and climber access to the top of the "Main Cliff".
 
This final draft was submitted to the Leverett Selectboard for final approval at their  meeting on Tuesday, November 30th.  The Leverett Conservation Commission and the WMCC attended the meeting to speak in favor for continued access to the top of the "Main Cliff" and, specifically,  that the CR language should reflect the overall goals of the Town; 64 out of the 102 Leverett residents who responded to the Conservation Commission's "Open Space and Recreation Plan Survey" ranked climbing as a recreational activity of medium to high importance.  Fortunately, democracy prevailed and the Select Board agreed that CR language which specifically prohibited climibing in this area was not appropriate for CPA funded, Town owned land.  They thus requested that the Conservation Commission and the RGT work together to come up with more community focused and diplomatic language.

The WMCC is committed to maintaining a positive working relationship with the Town of Leverett, private landowners, the Leverett Townspeople, and the RGT.  As you can imagine, future access at the "Main Cliff" is uncertain, and will require careful planning under direction of all stakeholders.  Thanks to those who came to the hearing and showed their support. For now, the best way to help is to follow the guidelines posted on our Rattlesnake Gutter Crag Page.

As always, your questions and feedback are appreciated!
 
-WMCC Board of Directors
 
 

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