Local Climbers Encourage a Lifetime of Public Lands Stewardship Through (not)Work Week
Local climbers Sarah Brengosz and Jeff Hearn create natural stairs. Photo by Jay Young, NRAC.
The New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC) board member and co-founder Gene Kistler had a vision for bringing climbing and trail stewardship together. In collaboration with the National Park Service at the New River National River, Gene and other local climbers drafted a plan and created the first (not)Work Week in 2015 to enhance access on pubic lands.
Throughout the week volunteers work with experienced trail builders learning about trail stewardship and best practices for trail development and management. Lex Rogers, 29, from Martinsburg, WV reflected on his first (not)Work Week experience, “The more time I spent in the Gorge, the stronger my sense of responsibility and stewardship for the place became.”
Vista view of the New River National River from the (not)Work Week project. Photo by Jay Young, NRAC.
The relationship between climbers and NPS personnel continues to grow and shape management plans of the area as climbers show their interest in the West Virginia mountains. In 2018, climbers contributed $12.1 million dollars to the local economy. In turn, as the sport of climbing gains population it is inherent that groups like NRAC continue to promote best practices at the crag, trail development, and overall stewardship to protect and preserve the wild and wonderful natural resources the Mountain State holds.