Successful access advocacy involves collaboration between land managers, volunteer groups, and other local stakeholders, such as businesses, private landowners, environmental organizations and community leaders. The Local Access Organization’s (LAO) approach to advocacy and organizing should be based on building coalitions amongst players like these.

The most fruitful partnerships include mutual agreements between stakeholders to improve its management, resolve the conflicts that sometimes arise, etc.

Get Organized – Don’t wait for a crisis, get your LAO organized. Develop communication strategies,  including website and email lists.

Understand Your Political Landscape – Post a map of your region and use pins to represent climbing shops, climbing clubs and prominent members. Identify political leaders: city, state and country elected officials as well as Public Areas and National Park system managers.

Get in Touch with Decision-Makers – If an access issue is imminent, respectfully ask for a meeting with the local land manager. Access closures and restrictive decision-making might occur because of poor communication. Be the first to reach out and understand an issue.

Make Your Message Simple – Develop a clear, simple message about how important climbing is to the local community (i.e. climbing promotes good quality of life, brings tourism revenue, etc.). Present yourself as a moderate—extremists quickly lose their credibility. Check out our Pro Climbing Points.

Establish Connections with Policy Makers – Having existing working relationships with local officials helps everyone negotiate a satisfactory conclusion. Consider appointing an official liaison for parks and crags in the area.

Write a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – A MOU is a document that clearly spells out a project’s goals and each stakeholder’s role in getting that project completed. It ensures that everyone involved is on the same page. It is a public statement of goals and duties, a means of reducing potential misunderstanding and conflict between partners without being a legally binding document. See the Access Fund Document on how to write a MOU. Also, see some examples here.

Invite Politicians and Managers to Address Your Group – Invite policy makers to address climbers. Use the event as an opportunity to educate them (and climbers) about local issues.

Get Climbers Appointed to Councils – City, county, state and federal public lands might have governing councils. LAOs should attend these meetings and try to have official capacities. By participating in these councils, LAOs have the chance to show land managers who they are and closely monitor the policies for climbing in that area, besides it gives a more powerful voice to the organization and climbing community.

Be Part of the Outdoors Community – Build coalitions with environmental, hiking, biking and other groups in your area. The more friends you have, the more collective lobbying power you have as a recreational trails community.

Use Your Voice for the Greater Good – Now that you are active, use your voice for the greater good. Spread the word for climbing access and conservation and help your friends by building bridges between them and policy decision-makers.

Openly Support Politicians – Selected the most climbing friendly candidate and publicly support them in the climbing community. They won’t forget who helped them. Consider volunteering in their campaign.

Persuade your LegislatorsLobbying your legislators is about persuading them to do what you want. Lobby them to pass a resolution in favor of a policy you support-or against a policy you are fighting- is an excellent way to raise the profile of your campaign. See examples of pro-climbing decrees and laws here.

Write a Political Action Letter – Writing letters is an important tool and—believe it or not—it works!

Run for Office – One of the best ways to improve access is to have climbers at the highest levels of decision-making power. Consider having climbers run for councils, park board or city office, Congress etc.

Follow-Up – Write thank you letters to those who helped you (politicians, land managers, etc.) letting them know that you appreciate their efforts. Make sure they receive your newsletter.