Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Huge Progress Made at the MFRP

by Terri

01 October 2014

CONTACT: Bill Strachan, Executive Director
Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition

Rock Climbers and Lee County, Ky Cut Ribbon on Miller Fork Recreational Preserve

ZOE, Kentucky (September 30, 2014) – In a ribbon cutting ceremony, the Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition (RRGCC) and the Beattyville/Lee County Tourism Commission celebrated the completion of preparations to provide access to the 309-acre Miller Fork Recreational Preserve. The RRGCC purchased this 2 1/4 mile-long canyon in June 2013 and immediately opened it for rock climbing development. Over the last year, the RRGCC has worked with the local Lee County community and the Access Fund, a national climbing advocacy organization, to build a parking lot and trail system improvements at the Preserve. The RRGCC worked with local companies including American Natural Gas who donated the labor to build a gravel parking area. Lee County supplied a trailhead kiosk and enlisted AT&T to provide telephone poles used by climbers to build bridges over Miller Fork. The Access Fund mobilized their Conservation Team to provide assistance to install the first bridge and build a primary trail along the valley floor. Volunteers from the climbing community and Eastern Kentucky University outdoor recreation programs then built extensions off of the primary access trail that lead up to the Miller Fork cliffs.

The completion of these preparations and the purchase of this forested canyon by the RRGCC are the result of a successful collaboration between climbers, the local Lee County community, and the outdoor industry. The Miller Fork Recreational Preserve purchase was made possible through a low interest loan provided to the RRGCC by the Access Fund. The Beattyville/Lee County Tourism Commission and the Beattyville-Lee County Chamber of Commerce have worked to support climbing on the RRGCC's existing Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) and the new Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP) by building informational kiosks and facilitating cooperation between the RRGCC and local businesses. The kiosks, in addition to providing climbers with information about the RRGCC and MFRP, will highlight information about local businesses and activities. The kiosks will also give local emergency responders a map and instructions on how to get to popular climbing areas. An engraved lock has been placed on a sandstone boulder facing the kiosk, symbolizing the relationship between Lee County and the RRGCC. The outdoor industry is providing financial support to the MFRP purchase through a $35,000 Conservation Alliance grant to the RRGCC. The Conservation Alliance is a group of outdoor industry companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations.

Between the MFRP and the PMRP climbers are preserving over 1,000 acres of land dedicated to human-powered outdoor recreation. Beyond providing climbing access, these two climber owned properties along with the 2,500 acre Ashland Wildlife Management Area provide a corridor of wildlands connecting the Red River Gorge Geologic Area with the Daniel Boone National Forest lands to the south.

The RRGCC is currently striving to raise $35,000 in funds to match the Conservation Alliance grant. So far over $7,000 dollars have been raised toward that goal. On October 10, 11, and 12, 2014, the RRGCC's Rocktoberfest event will be held in Slade, Ky to raise the additional matching money. Outdoor companies involved in Rocktoberfest include Outdoor Research, Petzl, Black Diamond, La Sportiva, BlueWater Ropes and over 35 other outdoor related companies who will be displaying their products.